Goa is a great place to be. The sun is out, the roads are freshly laid with clean tarmac (well, at least most of them) and it is siesta time for the locals. There can’t be a better moment than this to make the most of the new Volkswagen Passat. Its 2000 cc four-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel motor makes 168 bhp — about 28 more horses than its predecessor. Torque figures are also up by 4 kgm over the older car — at 37 kgm, which is brilliant. I am driving the Passat in the top-spec Highline trim that comes with Volkswagen ’s famous dual-clutch gearbox, while the Trendline starts off the range and is only available with a manual transmission. Unfortunately, along with the bump up in engine output figures, this Passat has put on some weight as well. While the outgoing car boasted of a kerb weight of 1,496 kg, the new Passat weighs in at 1,605 kg, an increase of a whole 109 kilos.
Sure, that’s all on paper; the clincher is in the way any car behaves in real life. Punch the throttle down, and before you know it you’re doing triple-digit speeds. But you are so isolated from the experience that it feels like... nothing!
The six-speed DSG keeps hunting for the right gear and when it finally makes up its mind, you are flung ahead with a surge in power. Although performance is relatively rabid, the new Passat doesn’t send a tingle through your spine, unlike the older car. It is engineered to cocoon you and keep you away from the vagaries of the environment outside. It’s fast; while it fools you into believing that you’re covering ground at a relaxed trot, in reality, you are hurtling down the highway at very illegal speeds. Paddle shifters add to the fun factor to a certain extent, but that visceral feel that the older engine provided is largely absent.
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