October 25, 2021

Review: Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Very Nearly Perfect!

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Do you live in an urban area with mad traffic? Somewhere like KL, Penang or even JB? Do you work long hours at the office and take pride in working overtime? Perhaps you have spent years and years of your life working up the corporate ladder and now you are almost at the top.

Your family life is near perfect. Kids are in school, your trophy wife is dedicated to ensuring the home always remains comfortable and the kids balance their time between work and play.

And now it has come time to reward yourself.

But you are a price conscious man. You do not want to spend too much money on a car that takes you to work and home and back to your parents home in a town three to four hours away every three to four months away. But we are talking about a Volkswagen here, so you can accept a little bit of depreciation.

Or maybe you are none of the above and just want a nice car to go about your daily business then. It does not matter what category you fall into, or if there is even a category to define you.

Lets then talk about the Volkswagen Passat R-Line – a car so fine that you won’t mind spending hours stuck in traffic in it. And yet it falls short of being perfect.

Design

The design of the Passat has come a long way. Even without the R-line kit the Passat is already a handsome car, but the R-line kit simply accentuates its good looks and adds a dash of sportiness to it. The R-line gives you bigger, sportier wheels, sports bumpers, a sportier steering wheel, Nappa leather upholstery, and a lot more inside and outside the car, but it does not add more power and add any electronic gizmo. Everything else remains the same.

We particularly loved it in white and as the saying goes, if you don’t look back at your car after parking it, you bought the wrong car. The Passat R-line had us looking back at it a lot, and we think you will too.

Interior

The interior is spacious and comfortable. The drivers seat is adjustable in 14 different ways, so it is impossible to not get comfortable in it.

We particularly appreciate how well built everything feels, and though it does not exude luxury and opulence, it is a great place to be in. When compared to the competition in its segment especially the current throne-sitters like the Camry and Accord, the Passat and its European build and style makes it feel as if it were a bargain at a little under RM205,000.

And yes, it is more expensive than its segment competitors and price-wise at least, it deserves to be put up against the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4. And even then it would still seem like a bargain as you get so much more living space for a lot cheaper.

If you don’t mind the badge, then the Passat offers a lot more value for money than its Euro rivals. And if you don’t mind spending a little more than the Asians, you will love the interior ambiance and comforts.

Technology

During the entire review period, the Passat appealed to the techie in us. Whether it was the digital meter panel or the eight speaker sound system, or the armada of safety technologies, the Passat has plenty of tech to offer.

The Wireless App-Connect smartphone connectivity in particular was shockingly easy to use. The iPhone connected to the onboard Apple CarPlay quickly and drama free, and most importantly, wirelessly. It was perfect and for those of you who suffer from cable-anxiety where you have to carry cables everywhere, this tech is God sent. Sadly, this tech is only available for Apple iPhone users, Android users will still need to suffer the inelegance of carrying cables around.

The drive mode selector too is just two quick dabs of a button away – touch the Drive Mode button located by the gear shifter and then touch the 9.2-inch screen to select your preferred mode. The Passat R-line has five driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual, which lets you adjust things like steering wheel heft, accelerator pedal sensitivity and gear shift speed. Because the Passat also comes with Dynamic Chassis Control, you can also adjust how comfortable the car feels, a plush for those highways cruises, and hard suspension for when you feel like attacking corners and for ultimate chassis and suspension response.

Power and Economy

We hear the groans, yes we know 190PS (187hp) and 320Nm of torque does not warrant us talking about power, but it honestly feels good enough in the Passat.

Keep in mind that this is a car that has been designed for comfort and safety for the family. Yes this is a family man’s car, and we beg of you not to kit it up with a spoiler and loud ‘wannabe’ akrapovic exhaust kit, because that will just make you look stupid and the car is not designed for this (yes, there actually are people that do such things to a Passat).

The Passat R-line is designed for the daily grind, and that’s what it does best – to keep you comfortable and to keep your money in your wallet and not poured into the fuel tank. Volkswagen Malaysia says the Passat R-line needs just 6.5 litres of fuel for every 100km, real world figures suggest something along those lines and up to 7.6 litres for every 100km when you’re not flooring the right pedal all the time. But we do believe their claim that the Passat is capable of 1,000km per tank. Of course this depends on your driving style, but if you keep your right foot on a leash, those figures are achievable.

All-round daily runner

This is what we love the Passat for, a no-nonsense, fuss-free, comfortable, loving car. It has everything you will want in a car and has it all packaged handsomely. It is a car that you can drive to the office and to impress your clients and to show that you are a person with taste yet don’t want to spend silly money on a car that ultimately does not give you back as much. It is also a car that your family will love and will also ultimately impress the cousins and kampung folks with its good looks.

Road Noise

The 19-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli Cinturato P7 (235/40 R19) rubbers are good in the wet and have decent dry weather handling, but are extremely noisy at highway speed. And this noise creeps back into the cabin to the point where you actually have to raise your voice significantly to have a conversation. This can get irritating and uncomfortable at highway speed. It is particularly annoying when you have to make and accept phone calls, hands free of course.

Confusing entertainment system and a screen that loves fingerprints

As great as the entertainment system is, we suspect that non-tech inclined drivers and passengers will find the onboard systems a little confusing to use. There is no doubt that the systems are especially friendly towards iPhone users (no complains there for this iPhone user), but the entire Discover Pro entertainment system requires a little getting used.

As for the screen that too easily smudges, this irritates the neat freak in us because the screen somehow does not cope very well with all that fingering around. After a day’s driving, the screen is full of smudges. Of course there is a way around it and that is to visit your favourite accessories story and to install a screen protector. It is not a deal breaker, but still very irritating.

Uninspiring dashboard

Yes yes we were raving about how well built the interior feels and all that jazz, but if you are artistically inclined the design of the dashboard may leave you longing for more. Of course less is always more, and the overall interior quality feels great, but as far as exciting interior designs go, the dash of the Passat will perhaps leave you longing for more after a while.

There is little not to love about the Volkswagen Passat, especially in R-line trim. It may be pricey especially when compared to the Japanese rivals, but you get good value for money. There are plenty of complaints about Volkswagen and retaining its used car prices, but we are firm believers in living in the moment and worrying about the future when the time comes, so if you want a car that looks good and makes you feel great as well, then the Passat R-line checks all the boxes.

And for those concerned about owning a Volkswagen, the company has heard of such concerns and now offers a 5 year unlimited mileage warranty, 3 year free maintenance as well as 5 year free roadside assistance. Talk about drama free ownership.

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