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Satish Kalepu Satish Kalepu Wednesday 10 October 2007

The entry-level engine is a mere 1.6-litre petrol, which struggles a little. The 1.9-litre diesel has plenty of pull but is noisy. 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units are the mainstays, and all versions are well suited to the car. The 3.2-litre V6 range-topper develops 247bhp for impressive performance.
  Volkswagen Passat - Ownership
Ride & handling
The Passat is a nimble and alert family saloon with a great ride. If you want something even sharper and are prepared to forego a bit of comfort, there's also a Sports option with firmer suspension. The 3.2 V6 is fitted with VW's 4Motion four-wheel-drive system.
The Passat shuts out most external noises as well as the average executive car. There's hardly any road noise, and although you can hear the wind rushing over the screen on the motorway, even that's very subdued. The diesels aren't the most refined, however, and can unsettle the calm.
Buying & owning
The Passat is a little more expensive than its rivals, and you won't be able to negotiate as big as discount, either. It should hold its value better than most, though, and other running costs are about par for the course.
  Volkswagen Passat - Ownership
Quality & reliability
Volkswagen has a reputation for quality and the Passat mostly lives up to this. It looks appealing and the switchgear operates with a precise action, but some hard, flimsy plastics on the lower dash let the side down a bit. The mechanical parts are proven and shouldn't give trouble.
Safety & security
You'll get a full set of electronic systems to help you avoid a crash, and six airbags. The front headrests have anti-whiplash protection. A key that fits into the dashboard offers a degree of theft protection, and keyless entry and starting is optional.
Behind the wheel
An extensive range of seat and wheel adjustment means almost anyone can make themselves comfortable at the wheel, although the optional sports seats don't offer enough shoulder support. The control layout is clear and logical, and there are plenty of places to stash odds and ends.
  Volkswagen Passat - In the cabin
Space & practicality
The Passat can't quite match Ford's Mondeo for interior space, but it's still huge. There's ample leg, shoulder and headroom for four, although a hefty transmission tunnel does make life a little uncomfortable for a central rear passenger. The 485-litre boot can easily cope with a family's holiday luggage.
S, SE, Sport and SEL are the four trim options available. All models include an electric push-button handbrake, a cooled glovebox, trip computer, automatic boot opening and dual-zone climate control. You can load the car up with luxury options such as swivelling headlights, a premium stereo system, Bluetooth mobile phone operation, DVD-based satellite-navigation and an electric rear sunblind.

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