Motoring Weekly

Reliable and comfortable

November 20 - 26, 2019

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly Reliable and comfortable

The Volkswagen badge is known for two main things – reliable German engineering and the Beetle, the most produced car in history. Volkswagen, translated into English as the “People’s car,” has expanded its offering through the years to cater to the needs of different kinds of people.

The Passat, which in German means, “Trade winds” is the ideal car for the modern executive or businessman. Last week, I took the 2020 Volkswagen Passat’s High Line (HL) trim sedan out for a ride and as we went through our day, navigating the unpredictable roads of Bahrain, it lived up to its reputation and then some.

The Volkswagen Passat 2020 comes with a six-speed 2.5L five-cylinder engine, with 170hp and 200Nm of torque. It’s a reasonable car for the practical person, not for their adrenaline-chasing teenager. It focuses on comfort, practicality and reliability.

Back in 1973, the Passat was the first lovechild of the Volkswagen acquisition of the Audi badge. Because of production and market concerns resulting in declining sales, Volkswagen was in serious trouble by 1973.

Audi’s expertise in front-wheel drive, and water-cooled engines helped Volkswagen produce a credible Beetle successor, with subtle and bold Audi influences paving the way for this new generation of Volkswagens, including the Passat. To this day, that continues, with some features like the standard slim LED headlights, taillights and some interior design inspired by the Audi A4 and A6.

While the 2020 Passat retains the underpinnings of the previous model, it has been completely restyled. A dynamic coupe-like roofline and dominant grille give the Passat a bold new look that combines elegance and sportiness into a neatly bundled package. And the HL trim features gorgeous 18-inch alloy wheels and luxurious titanium black leather.

The Passat comes standard with a multi-function display with VW Car-Net App-Connect that easily connected to my Samsung phone, via the Android Auto app, so that I could glance at notifications and respond to calls and messages without taking my eyes off the road.

This was my first adventure with Android Auto. I found it mostly smooth, except for the occasional accidental disconnects, mainly due to my own error. I chose the “Media” source on the VW instead of the “Apps” option, where all my phone related features resided including navigation, hands-free calling and music, via Bluetooth or USB.

As we drove onto the highway from the Behbehani Brothers’ Volkswagen Centre in Sitra, the dual-zone sync-able ACs for the driver and passenger had myself and my colleague quickly comfortable, per our individual needs.

Felix Miranda, general manager for Volkswagen Bahrain, has noted previously, “This new model has stepped up the style factor and upgraded the technology to make it even more attractive, with additional desirable convenience and accessible driver-assistance features.”

And the resulting ride? Serene and satisfying.

The Passat in Bahrain is the American build, retaining the same iconic body but with a regular 2.5L engine instead of the 1.4L - 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine available in European markets. As a result, I found the ride to feel a bit heavier with a slower pickup, clocking in at 0-100kmph in 9.2 seconds. The body felt like it was built for an engine with a tiny bit more torque.

It is something adrenaline junkies might find limiting but for the everyday commuter? Pleasant and practical. With a combined city-highway fuel economy of 9.4L/100km, it is also one of the most efficient engines for this class.

We pulled back the tilt and slide glass sunroof to enjoy one of Bahrain’s handful of moderate ideal weather days once we got out of traffic gridlock and blitzed along on cruise-control till we found ourselves in close-quarter combat, I mean, drive, on Exhibition Road. The multiple driver-assist systems like the multifunction camera and the park-distance control sensors guided us into a rare gem of a parking spot.

The rest of our day simply flew by as the Passat, available in four trims – Trendline, Comfortline, Comfortline Plus (with leatherette seats) and Highline (with leather seats and alloy wheels), became a simple extension of the driver.

I’d definitely recommend it for the person who likes to enjoy the trade winds of a serene drive, swapping in some performance for the subtle luxuries of a comfortable ride.

The VW Passat 2020 currently ranges from BD8,599 to BD12,560, depending on trim and comes with a  three-year/45,000km free service, provided by Behbehani Brothers. Contact 17459977 to book your test drive and surf the trade winds!

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