Review: Volkswagen Passat Elegance

Volkswagen Passat Elegance

Where Malaysia Price RM188 On sale now Engine 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 188bhp at 4180rpm Torque 320Nm at 1500rpm Gearbox 7-spd wet-clutch dual-clutch Kerb weight 1455kg Top speed 238km/h  0-100km/h 7.9sec Fuel economy 15.4km/L CO2 NA Rivals Honda Accord, Toyota Camry

What is it?
The Volkswagen Passat Elegance is the flagship Volkswagen model in Malaysia. The B8.5 generation Passat replaces the complicated earlier line-up of three trim levels and two engine and gearbox options that was offered in the B8 model. Now there’s just one: an updated 2.0-litre engine that produces 188bhp and 320Nm with a new seven-speed wet-clutch, dual-clutch gearbox. The engine output has been reduced by 27bhp and 30Nm compared to the Passat Highline. The difference is its kick-off to 100km/h: the Elegance is 1.2 seconds slower. The Elegance is a family saloon and competes against the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Edit: since our review, the Volkswagen Passat R-Line and Volkswagen Arteon have been launched.

What is it like?
The updates in the B8.5 Passat Elegance make it look more sophisticated and more luxurious than the B8 Passat. The changes are subtle, redesigning styling features outside and inside, introducing new materials and decorative elements.

Leather seats and ambient lighting makes the car feel very premium while fold down rear seats and foot-activated automatic boot are handy conveniences.

Diagonal lines and black highlights on the front bumper and splitter make the car look lower and wider. The headlights look the same but are now adaptive LED projectors with automatic high beam dimming. At the rear, the Passat name has been centralised across the boot lid and the new-style dynamic LED tail lights have sequential turn signals.

The Passat Elegance isn’t a direct replacement for the 2.0 Highline. It’s more a consolidation of the three trim levels into one which optimises features. There are new features like tyre pressure monitoring and blind spot monitoring. Some have been removed like lane keeping assist, automatic parking, adaptive damping, Dynamic Chassis Control, torque vectoring and Electronic Differential Lock. Rejigging the specs and omitting DCC and EDL has reduced the price of the Passat by around RM17,000. It puts the Passat Elegance within the price range of the market leaders, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

The infotainment system upgrades in the new Passat include wireless Apple CarPlay which eliminates the need for cables. This is useful because all USB ports are USB-C, a little inconvenient for those who don’t have the latest USB-C smartphones. The touchscreen monitor is now larger and the features can be accessed by voice or gesture controls. One sliding motion in front of the screen and the menu glides to the next option. It’s cool the first few times but the hit or miss randomness of getting the radio channels or menu to change soon wears thin. It’s faster to use the controls on the steering wheel, right by your thumbs or extend your hand and tap the screen. 

In front of the driver is the new digital cockpit, a 11.7-inch TFT screen which can be customised to display the information the driver prefers, including the map from the built-in navigation. It won’t however, display the Waze map from Apple CarPlay.

Our review car came in the hero colour, Aquamarine Blue, which is bold and dramatic but stops short of being loud. It’s… elegant.

Should I get one?
The D-segment is a very competitive and price sensitive category. We think the Passat Elegance strikes the right balance between price and features. The Passat Elegance is around RM14,000 below the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. It has the most appeal for someone who wants to enjoy driving instead of merely tolerate their forced time behind the wheel. If you revel in the daily commute being a chore to be endured then the Volkswagen Passat Elegance is not the car for you.