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New Passat test drive
Yesterday, I test drove the new '97 VW Passat, in 1.9TDI form. This was my
first experience with both the car and the TDI engine (I have driven N/A
SDI cars before). On the road, this is a VW that thinks it's an Audi. Very
solid-feeling, unlike any VW I've driven before. The amount of wind noise
is a little higher than my amazingly quiet 80, but tyre noise is a lot
lower. The only noisy thing on the car is the blower, which got up to
hurricane power on its first setting. The A4/A6 suspension makes for nice
cornering- I couldn't really compare it to my car, 'cause this one had
crappy Continental tyres, so I didn't want to push it. There is
unfortunately no sports suspension available (yet?), as I would like a
little less body roll. The power steering is just right, and the ABS brakes
feel very reassuring. The wheel is adjustable radially as well as axially,
which enables you to get a perfect driving position.
The ComfortLine package on the demonstrator added some nice extras, such as
a height-adjustable centre armrest (the bees knees for long-distance
Rear seat leg/headroom are also more than adequate, along the lines of the
The TDI engine in 90hp guise is up to the job, and performance is better
than my 1.8 90hp petrol Audi 80. It's not the quietest Diesel I've driven,
but it is the nicest overall. Bags of torque (202Nm @ 1900rpm), which makes
for an absence of turbo lag. This is even better than the TurboDiesel
Peugeot I've driven. We got the car up to 180 km/h with no trouble, and it
felt solid and stable. It can also be driven in a very lazy fashion, 30mph
in 5th with no trouble and in virtual silence.
Here in Holland, these cars are priced a couple of thousand guilders below
the A4. What you get for the money is a car that's roomier (you need a road
map for the trunk!) and less sporting, but comfier on long distances
because of the longer wheelbase. You get the Audi's suspension, base unit,
engines, gearboxes (very good BTW) and build quality.
What I didn't like about it: noisy fan, body roll, headache-inducing shiny
chrome VW badge on the steering wheel, and the quality of some of the minor
switchgear was below par. I could however easily live with this car...
especially if it were the 110hp TDI, which would be fun.
Waiting for the VR5 Syncro (quattro, really) version...
Tom Nas Zeist, The Netherlands
"The prince wants your daughter for his wife."
"Well, tell him his wife can't have her."
-- Blackadder III