Taking care of business in the Volkswagen Passat Wagon

If ‘does what it says on the box’ was going to be applied to any vehicle I have driven, the Volkswagen Passat Business Wagon, would be a worthy candidate. This is a wagon for business people, who up until recently anyway, would have been racking up thousands of kilometres in a week driving the length and breadth of the country.

The suitable vehicle for this line of work would need be comfortable, easy to live with and frugal on the fuel. The Passat wagon is all of these and with the added bonus of being a good family car at the same time. The ride is pleasant; the Passat is a very solid feeling car and the cabin is a nice place to be.

The 2.0L, 4 cylinder inline turbo petrol engine has an adequate 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque and is paired with a 7 speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) and front-wheel drive. The Passat certainly isn’t a performance wagon, with a 0-100km/h time of 8.1 seconds, but where it does shine is fuel use with an official combined fuel consumption of 6.6L/100km and for my week I used 7.8L/100km.

The front-wheel drive wagon does suffer from some loss of traction from the front tyres under hard acceleration off the line, but in saying that I did spend all of my time driving in Sport mode. There are four drive modes in the Passat in all, the other three being Eco, Normal, or Individual. For Individual mode there is adjustment for Steering, Drive, Active Cruise Control and Air Conditioning.

The Passat cabin design is stylish and there are soft feeling plastics wherever your hands touch and I liked that the centre console had minimal gloss black surfaces because I do not like dust or finger marks on here.

The same cannot be said for the 8.0” colour capacitive touch screen display with smartphone style graphics, as it suffered badly from finger smudge marks. The system does have gesture control, but I couldn’t work out how to get this to function properly.

The infotainment has Discover Media audio with media input from AM/FM radio, USB-C compatible with MP3, WMA and AAC music files. It also has App-Connect with Wireless Apple CarPlay or you can connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto using a USB-C cord. Under the arm rest there is one USB-C port and at front of arm rest there is one 12V outlet. Plus at the front of the centre console there is a ledge for your mart phone with another USB-C port.

The leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel is easy to navigate and use to change the digital display on the central part of the driver’s dash between the two analogue dials. Annoyingly though there are no phone controls on the steering wheel and the voice control functionality was unavailable on my Passat, so I was unable to test it out. On the positive side though the voice control was designated by an androgynous face, unlike many other car brands that use a man’s face.

Some thoughtful design features in the cabin include removable rubber mats for easy cleaning in each of the storage cubby/cup holders in the centre console and all of the door cubbies are cloth lined to stop your drink bottle from rattling.

As a driver you will really appreciate the Vienna Leather appointed front seats that have 14-way power adjustment including 4-way lumbar support and heating. The driver also gets two memory positions and basic massage function, which would be nice if you were spending long periods of time driving the Passat.

The two outer rear seats are contoured nicely, comfortable to sit on, heated and there is ample head and leg room for two adults to sit here. For your children, there are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points. The centre seat folds down and there are three different sized rigid drink holders in it. Rear passengers get digital temperature control with manual speed on/off control and manual blinds, but no mat over the transmission tunnel. One thing I did notice was my daughter found the rear doors heavy to close.

There is much to admire about the boot in the Passat wagon; to start with it has nifty boot release ‘hidden’ in the VW emblem at the back of the car, but only manual open and close. The boot is very large (officially 650 litres) and would accommodate a pram and the weekly shop with ease. The cargo cover has handy mid-way lock position so you don’t have to fully open unless you need to and there are four hooks, four tie down points and one 12V and you even get a full size spare tyre. A cargo net can be installed behind the rear seats or the front seats, if the 40/20/40 split folding rear seats are completely laid down, and when you do this the boot volume goes up to 1,780 litres.

Active safety features on the Passat include adaptive cruise control, front collision assist, lane keep assist with or without steering vibration, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a standard rear view camera with front and rear sensors. I found out by accident, when my dog walked behind the Passat as I was slowly reversing out of my driveway, that when the sensor detects an object it automatically applies the brakes.

Passive safety features include dual frontal, side chest and side head-protecting airbags (curtains) for both front and second row seats and a driver’s knee airbag. All models in the Passat range have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating (2015) and this is based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP.

All new Volkswagen models come with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty and one year’s membership to Volkswagen Roadside Assist. Roadside assistance can be extended if your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition and you have the Volkswagen standard scheduled service carried out by a participating authorised Volkswagen Dealer, but Dealers may charge a service fee to activate this. Service intervals for the Passat are 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. Using the Volkswagen Assured Service Pricing I calculated for the first five services of a 2020 Passat wagon would cost $2,692.

With a larger cargo area and better fuel efficiency than many heftier vehicles, the Volkswagen Passat Business Wagon makes a lot of sense for those who have to drive long distances for their work. The wagon I tested was standard with no optional extras and was $47,990 plus on-road costs. Visit your preferred Volkswagen dealer for more information.

ProsCons
Big bootBad finger marks on infotainment screen
Comfortable front seats with massage functionNo phone control buttons on steering wheel
Wireless Apple CarPlayManual opening boot

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.