For buyers of the UK version of the Volkswagen Passat Saloon performance comes from diesel power alone when the car is launched.
There are four main power outputs on offer along with six-speed manual and six-speed or seven-speed DSG automatics.
Right at the core of the range is a 2-litre engine which gets either 148bhp or 188bhp, and 340 or 400Nm respectively, available with six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Both do 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, while top speed is 137mph (or 136mph with DSG auto ‘box).
We’ve only driven the 148bhp version, but can report it’s the ideal companion for the Passat. It’s versatile and has more than enough grunt to get you where you need to be. The only downside is it’s a little noisy, but we suspect that’s more to do with how quiet the rest of the car is rather than this engine being particularly gruff.
Our thoughts are mirrored by VW itself, which claims 80 percent of Passat models will feature this engine.
Need more power?
At the top end you’ve got the 2-litre BiTDI engine which develops 237bhp and torque of 500Nm. It is coupled only with automatic gearboxes. This model also gets the 4MATIC four-wheel drive system and will cover 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds. Top speed is 150mph.
This engine is great, with next to no hesitation when you press the throttle and a real shove in the back as you accelerate. It doesn’t feel massively faster than the 148bhp engine, though, so we’re struggling to think of a way to justify paying extra for it unless you need the ultimate towing capacity and four-wheel drive.
At the lower (and cheaper to run) end of the spectrum there’s a 1.6-litre TDI with 118bhp and 250Nm of torque. This is coupled with either manual or seven-speed automatic gearboxes.
We’re expecting a petrol/electric hybrid Passat GTE to be launched in October 2015.
While it isn’t the most engaging car in its class to drive, the Passat Saloon actually handles very well when driven enthusiastically.
There’s minimal body roll and the steering is well-weighted and accurate. At lower speeds it lightens nicely for easy manoeuvring.
Thanks to a diet which has seen the Passat shed up to 75kg, it’s definitely more agile than the previous version.
We tested cars fitted with the Dynamic Chassis Control option (which is standard on four-wheel drive BiTDI models) and found this to be very impressive. In Sport mode the car’s body control is greatly improved, making more level cornering and an engaging experience a reality only dreamt about in earlier Passats. Choosing Comfort does the opposite, but also greatly improves the ride quality.
The BiTDI model also gets four-wheel drive, so if you’re going to be towing, this is the model to choose as it also gets the highest towing capacity of 2,200kg. If that’s the case, think about going for the optional factory fitted towbar because then you can have Trailer Assist, which will automatically steer your car and trailer into a parking space, with you controlling the throttle and brakes. We’ve tried this and it works brilliantly, albeit with a little practice to begin with.