1 Apr 2011
The B7 Passat is effectively an evolutionary re-skin of the previous B6 generation, with all panels except the roof being re-shaped over the same underpinnings and carryover powertrains, but with a range of new features and tweaks thrown in to improve safety, efficiency, comfort and value.
Leather became standard across the range, as did a new driver fatigue sensing system, Bluetooth with audio streaming and fuel-saving brake energy recuperation technology.
Fuel savings over the previous Passat varied from 4.6 per cent for the flagship petrol V6 to 12 per cent for the 2.0-litre diesel. The latter also got VW's BlueMotion idle-stop, bringing the claimed combined fuel consumption for the diesel down to 5.7 litres per 100km – making it the most economical Passat in history at the time of launch.
All B7 Passat engines were mated to automated dual-clutch transmissions – seven speed on the 118TSI and six speeds on both the 125TDI diesel and 220FSI V6.
The base-level 118TSI Passat sedan was good for an 8.5-second sprint from zero to 100km/h, while combined fuel economy was rated at 7.2L/100km.
The torquey 125TDI diesel was only a smidgen slower to 100km/h at 8.6 seconds, but returned the best fuel economy at 5.7L/100km for both the sedan and wagon.
The swiftest Passat, the V6-powered 220FSI, could hit 100km/h in 5.5 seconds, but was is also the thirstiest at 9.7L/100km.
V6 Passat buyers not only got more bang for the buck but a load of extra features, starting with that 4Motion AWD system to tame the extra power.
An alarm, 18-inch wheels in place of the 17s on the lesser models, adaptive chassis control and 12-way powered front seats were among the 220FSI's standard kit.
Drivers ticking the Park Assist option could enjoy a new party trick, self-guided parking. The system not only automatically parallel parked the car into tight spots, but could also reverse-park into right-angle parking bays without the driver having to touch the steering wheel.
Once activated, the system sought out a parallel parking spot while cruising along the street at up to 40km/h, and crammed itself into a bay with just 80cm of space at either end of the car. The system could even extricate the car from the spot with just 50cm of space at either end in case another driver came and parked closer behind or in front.
Adaptive cruise control was standard on the V6 flagship and an option on other models and would automatically maintain a safe distance from cars in front via radar when cruising in traffic but would also bring the car Passat to a halt if the lead car stopped, for example at traffic lights, resuming cruise when the driver tapped the accelerator pedal.
The cruise control system also provided an emergency braking ability, preparing the car for a potential crash, warning the driver and automatically braking if the radar detects that the vehicle in front stopped or slowed suddenly.
Boot space of the sedan was a handy 565 litres, while the four-cylinder wagons swallowed 603 litres of luggage, or 1731 litres with the split fold seats down. The V6 sedan and wagon held slightly less due to the 4Motion system under the rear floor, taking 541 litres (sedan) and 588 litres (wagon) respectively.
When it was new