The latest Volkswagen Passat may be bland but it is, as mid-sized sedans go, brilliant. It’s comfortable. It’s spacious. It drives well. Most of all the Passat represents fantastic value for money when compared to its similar in-house rival, the Audi A4.
Take the frugal new 2.0TDI model for example. Launched locally this week you can buy a Passat 2.0TDI Luxury for R493 400. For this capital outlay you get the following: 130-kilowatts, 350 torques, LED headlights, heated leather seats, three-zone climate control, cruise and park distance control plus an eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity.
All you want to add to this mix is the optional Active Info Display. Basically Volkswagen’s version of Audi Virtual Cockpit, this TFT display replaces those old analogue instruments sitting in front of your steering wheel with slick new digital ones. In the equivalent A4 this package will set you back R42 660. In the Passat you’re looking at R22 000 and this includes satellite navigation. So with this box ticked the purchase price goes up to R515 400. Tick it in the Audi A4 2.0 TDI and your wallet will be staring down a total sum of R601 660. See, Passat = Value.
And yet it doesn’t sell. From 1 January to 31 October 2016 only 329 Passats have found homes compared to 2 328 Audi A4s. Even the niche Mercedes-AMG A45 outsold the Passat by 41 units. Yep, the sad truth here is that people don’t want a Passat because it doesn’t have the same brand cachet as its rivals. People would rather spend more to get a car that impresses their friends than less on an equally good car that flatters their bank account. Their loss. – Thomas Falkiner