Test drive: VW Passat 1.8 TSI Trendline

A true minimalist’s haven on four wheels, especially for those seeking a proper European offering

Passat Trendline 17

If you’re in the market for a basic, mid-sized sedan that isn’t one of the usual Asian-made suspects, you’d probably have lined up this new generation Volkswagen Passat 1.8 Trendline featured here as a prime candidate.

Having spent a good weekend in its hot seat, there’s plenty to love about this basic German four-door despite its few quirks here and there. We’ll start off with the good stuff, and there’s plenty.

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On the outside, this Passat is the perfect example of a neat and understated car. It isn’t as understated as its predecessor thanks to small details such as the chiselled shoulder lines running across its sides, the pronounced wheel arches and wheel nut covers, plus the shiny and larger front grille.  Overall, anyone with a good eye for design will be stoked to have one.

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On board, it becomes immediately clear this car’s interior is a minimalist’s haven. Instead of shouting excess, it boasts a good mix of soft-touch materials and shiny bits in all the right places. Surely, this mid-sized VW saloon now feels much closer to its more expensive Audi cousin here than ever before, even in this entry-level Trendline form.

Being the base model in its range does mean it makes do with fewer features and amenities, but there’s enough to please anyone. The highlights include the touchscreen infotainment unit with steering-mounted controls, automatic dual-zone air-conditioning plus rear air vents, as well as keyless lock operation and ignition.

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Thumb the engine start button and things become typically German in a good way. This Passat harnesses VW’s signature 1.8-litre TSI and 7-speed DSG powertrain package, offering both adequate performance and impressive fuel efficiency, depending on how smoothly you feather your right foot of course.

Though not as nimble as a Golf GTI, its comfort-focussed chassis setup is ideal for any family man. You probably won’t hear too many cries of discomfort from the missus, kids or even your in-laws when ferrying them in it.

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Of course, there are a few niggles here and there, starting with the tyre roar intrusion in the cabin. However, this only occurs if you’re driving at speeds beyond the national speed limit, so best take it as an inadvertent safety device of sorts, if you will. What could be a deal-breaker here is the absence of cruise control, which is a shame, given this car’s impressively efficient mile-munching ability.

Perhaps that absence can be forgiven because of the presence of this Passat’s many standard safety features – ABS, stability control, ISOFIX child seat anchors and the six airbags lining its cabin. Couple that with VW’s five-year unlimited mileage warranty plan, and its slightly steep sticker price of RM159,990, sans insurance and registration, doesn’t seem too bad.

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In reality, though, this Passat’s only real rival is itself: we’re talking about the recently introduced Passat Trendline Plus variant that offers more (leather seats, bigger wheels and window tints) for RM15,000 less. However, you might want to take note that that pricing of the Plus is for a limited time only – it’s an introductory offer.

- Thoriq Azmi

Engine: 1,798cc, 4-cylinder turbo, FWD, 177bhp, 250Nm
Price: RM159,990
Economy: 5.7L/100km, 129g/km Co2
Performance: 0-100kph in 7.9 seconds, 232kph
Weight: 1,405kg

Verdict: 7/10
Low feature count and tyre roar let it down slightly, but otherwise a solid European choice in this segment

Author: TopGear
TopGear is the world’s best-selling motoring magazine. The Malaysian edition holds similar status, as acknowledged by the industry.