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Volkswagen Passat R36 engines, drive and performance

2008 - 2010 (change model)
Performance rating: 4.5 out of 54.5

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The R36 is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine – a development of the 3.2-litre unit found in the standard Passat. It delivers 300bhp and huge amounts of pulling power from low down which translates into great acceleration from a standstill. It’s the most powerful engine fitted to a Passat and easy to exploit, making overtaking a breeze. 0-62mph comes up in just 5.6 seconds in the saloon and 5.8 seconds in the estate but it’s the effortless fashion in which it gains speed that impresses most.

The automatic DSG gearbox is standard and features one of the fastest shift speeds around so the changes are almost seamless. But while this means storming pace the downside is that there’s not a great sense of acceleration in the cabin plus the engine and exhaust note are strangely muted with only a brief howl accompanying each change up.

A revised suspension set-up means the Passat R36 rides lower than the standard car and it’s certainly better through corners with direct steering and little bodyroll. Thanks to the 4MOTION four-wheel drive system there’s excellent traction, particularly out of slow corners, grip levels are high too and the larger brakes provide excellent stopping power.

On more demanding roads the Passat is agile and enjoyable to drive – if not particularly involving – and although the DSG gearbox system is a superb piece of engineering, it’s a shame there’s no manual available. It does feature steering-wheel mounted paddle shifts however, which allow you to control the gears yourself.