Lumbar support is a wonderful addition to the modern driver seat.
Those of us now suffering from spending their formative years slumped over school desks and, latterly, hunched over laptops appreciate the respite offered by a forced upright position and support for the lower back.
Not only does this improve posture and reduce back pain, it also improves driver safety. Long journeys in our Volkswagen Passat mean less fidgeting now we have established the optimum seating position. And this means better concentration.
On some cars, the lumbar support appears to deflate during the journey; on the Passat it stays pretty solid, only occasionally requiring a minor readjustment.
The Passat also has an excellent adjustable headrest.
Anyone viewing the crash test data from Thatcham will realise the importance of having a head rest which sits flush to your head – yet few manufacturers offer a decent solution.
The Passat’s headrest slides fore and aft as well as the usual up and down, ensuring your head nestles snugly again the padding. In the event of an incident, this means whiplash would be eliminated. Given the rising cost of whiplash claims, the car should be awarded an improved insurance rating for this innovation alone.
Four months into our year-long test and I’m discovering new family-friendly features on the Passat.
The latest was the centre arm rest in the rear seats which pulls down and clicks out to reveal handy cup holders perfect for kids’ water bottles (while offering a handy ‘seat’ for their favourite soft toys).
Meanwhile, for the grown-ups, the Passat offers, in addition to the aforementioned supportive seats, the triple-whammy of ample leg and headroom, a smooth ride and an iPod USB connection that actually works with a fifth generation model.
Actually, that last one might be more for me. I’ve become used to resorting to a sub-standard aux connection for my ageing iPod but, to the delight of two children (though not necessarily my wife), the opuses of At The Drive-In, Stiff Little Fingers, Pixies and the like now accompany our longer journeys.
It’s a rare trick for a car to keep both adults and children happy, particularly without the ‘cheats’ of DVD in headrests or the novelty factor of MPV trickery like automatic opening doors (although it has the automatic opening boot), but the Passat ticks all the boxes for a family company car.