The Volkswagen Passat is proving to be a welcome addition to our fleet: it offers a comfortable ride on the UK’s increasingly potholed roads, predictable and precise handling, good body control a slick gear change and a stop-start system that engages effortlessly.
The driving experience is trouble-free and that extends inwards as well. The interior puts some premium rivals to shame with its eye-catching contrast of tactile plastics, cloth and metallic surfaces plus a clean, intuitive dashboard layout.
Getting to grips with every function, from iPod docking to sat-nav programming, takes no time – and certainly no reference has been made to the user manual.
Overview, the user experience is very good. True the Ford Mondeo takes the plaudits on pure driving enjoyment, but the Passat has the edge on interior quality, space (especially boot), engine refinement, sound insulation (thicker glass and the windscreen has a thin layer of plastic sandwiched between the two panes to keep unwanted sounds out) and running costs thanks partly to its strong residual values.
The only area we can’t report a total success is the automatic boot opening system. Wafting a foot beneath the rear bumped should activate a sensor which opens the boot – the innovation is designed to minimise hassle when you approach the car with hands full (of shopping or kids).
My success rate of getting the boot to open is poor and certainly nothing like the demonstrations I’ve seen previously. It usually results in my clicking the key fob or taking the traditional route of flipping the button, which neatly doubles as the rear VW badge.
I rather fear I’m not touching the sensor in the right place – does this mean a first dip into the user manual?