The new Volkswagen Passat Sport is a smooth, sophisticated saloon and seriously fast, finds Kate Ginn.
They say:“The mid-size car for your full-size life” We say: “Sporty number”
The clever clogs at Volkswagen have taken the Passat, its mid-size saloon, and given it an automotive makeover. As well as a redesign, they’ve created a smart, tech-savvy car that is a must in these enlightened times.
I’ve been a fan of VW since my student days, when my then boyfriend drove a battered old Golf, which was our escape to head off for weekend adventures. That car was like a tank; it never broke down and a tank of petrol seemed to last for months.
VWs were renowned back then for their durability and driveability.
Nowadays, drivers want the same qualities but cars need to also have style and a touch of panache.
Which is clearly what the VW designers have taken on board. The new Passat is very stylish with bags of kerb appeal. My test car, the Sport trim, was an elegant dark-grey colour, like a sleek seal gleaming in the sunlight, with contrasting alloy wheels.
It exuded an air of slight superiority, which I liked, and would, I imagine, attract executives wishing to make a statement albeit an understated one.
This is not a car for someone who favours the brash, in-your-face approach.
It might be too discreet for some, who would argue it’s unexciting, but it suited me down to the ground.
With its elongated lines and discreet sporty touches – chrome accents and futuristic-looking LED headlights and taillights that flow with the design – it’s low key but dynamic enough to be noticed on the road.
After a short but sweet introduction to the finer points of the car at VW’s Azaiba showroom, I was handed the keys, and the open road beckoned. As I’m notorious for losing my keys in the cavernous handbag that I drag around with me, I really appreciated the keyless access facility. With the
key in your pocket (or bag), you can unlock the car door just by gripping the handle. Once inside, it’s a push-button start.
Inside, there seem to be acres of room to stretch out. Even my long frame was happy in the driving position with plenty of head and legroom.
The interior is in keeping with the subtle exterior. I loved the multifunction flat-bottomed steering wheel, which made me feel that I was at the controls of a fighter jet, as well as putting all the controls at your fingertips.
There’s a decent-sized touchscreen, allowing you to scroll through everything from navigation to music, which is pumped out courtesy of a premium Fender audio system.
It was a hot day and the dual-zone aircon really came into its own, allowing the driver and passenger to have their own preferred temperature, which in my case is on a par with Antarctica.
As you would expect, the Passat Sport has connectivity for on-the-move communications, with Bluetooth as well as USB ports in the rear.
There’s also the intelligent Volkswagen App-Connect, which lets you link a compatible smartphone with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or MirrorLink to use selected apps on the touchscreen, allowing streaming of music for instance.
As we hit the road, I wanted to see what this baby was capable of. She didn’t disappoint. It’s quick, very, very quick. A bullyboy SUV came onto my tail, flashing headlights with impatience and insisting that I meekly acquiesce to his demands. Not a chance, buster! My foot pressed lightly down on the accelerator, the 2.5-litres and 170 horses snapped to attention and we were off, leaving the bullying SUV a disappearing dot in my rearview mirror. He didn’t try that again.
As I said, the Passat (even the Sport) looks mildly unassuming but it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which, when pushed, reveals its true colours.
As you would expect with a VW, safety is first class with features such as automatic post-collision braking system, which can help to prevent the car moving after impact (very handy on Oman’s roads). Front and rear parking sensors, with a rear camera, are standard on the Sport trim and provided a lifesaver when trying to navigate our way into a tight spot in one of the mall’s spaces.
Returning, loaded down with shopping bags, the hands-free easy open boot was worth its weight in Jimmy Choos. With the key in your pocket or bag, you simply wave your foot under the bumper and hey presto, just like magic, the boot pops open!
It’s little touches like this that made the Passat Sport stand out for me.
Engine: 2.5-litre 5-cylinder ￼￼
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Price: RO12,346 (ex-showroom)