Having spent a fair amount of time with some of the most efficient and competitive players in this fuel-sipping day in age, I still find myself intrigued with the community of hybrid and diesel owners with their hypermiling techniques and driving methods that are significantly differentiated from those of performance drivers. While some of these fuel-saving car buyers do what they do for monetary and economic reasons, others do it to save the environment. I decided to spend a week behind the wheel of the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI in Platinum Grey Metallic, a slightly different player to this ‘reinvented’ game.
Turbodiesel motors have become more in demand lately, marketed heavily by their highway fuel efficiency and extended range on a single tank of fuel. The days of loud, clattery diesels are all but gone. Diesel motors are anything but fresh to the market – especially those sporting turbos. Volkswagen is one of the few manufacturers that have taken pride in truly perfecting the use of this technology in nearly every model they offer. In fact, they have been doing so well, the Passat TDI set a Guiness World Record for fuel efficiency in a non-hybrid classification in 2013.
As mentioned, my tester Passat came in a Platinum Grey Metallic, which, while I typically wouldn’t be interested in, looked particularly eye-catching when paired with the 18” alloy wheels. The lines of the car are not too over the edge – perfect for someone who wants a flashy sedan that doesn’t look like it’s a base model. The Passat is clearly a car where the conservative styling works in its favour. It stands out just enough to make a statement without coming across as pretentious.
The 2014 Passat TDI is propelled along by a 2.0L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that puts out 140 horsepower. Although the horsepower number seems low for a premium sedan, it puts out 236 lb-ft of torque at just 1,750 rpm in typical TDI fashion. This engaging setup is mated to a 6-speed double-clutch transmission that Volkswagen has named “DSG”, short for Direct Shift Gearbox. While the saying “horsepower sells cars, but torque wins races” doesn’t really apply to cars like this one, I didn’t for one second find myself wishing the Passat had more power.
Most impressive was the interior of the new Passat. Not only does it boast an incredible amount of rear legroom, the front passengers are comfortable at all times as well. On top of interior cabin space, the trunk boasts enough cargo space for everyone’s luggage and then some when going out of town for a weekend. The tan leather/suede seats are comfortable at first, but do lack support for extended trips. For the amount of distance the Passat will go on one tank of gas, one would think the VW engineers would have invested a bit into the seat ergonomics. I found after only a couple hours behind the wheel that I had to stop and stretch my back.
Volkswagen has always offered a top-notch level of fit and finish in their vehicles. The roominess of the Passat compares to that of land barges such as the new Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon. I feel that the Passat is definitely one notch above the likes of former competitors such as the bestselling Camry and Altima. It just has an aura of ‘premium’ inside it that the others don’t – definitely a Volkswagen trait that has been carried throughout their lineup.
Although, despite everything in the Passat having such a premium feel, there are a few features that take away from it. My top-trim Highline TDI model lacked projector HID headlamps, which was a bit of a put-off. The sunroof controls shared with the rest of the VW lineup feels far too dated and isn’t exactly user-friendly. Volkswagen still insists on a proprietary iPod cable rather than a conventional USB port. Lastly, the remote-start feature disengages as soon as a door is opened, shutting off the vehicle – that can’t be good for the diesel engine as it warms up.
Jumping into the driver’s seat of a new Volkswagen model is always a pleasurable experience – everything is always so well laid-out. Bluetooth integration in the Passat TDI was easily accomplished, and audio quality is great. When paired with the upgraded Fender audio system, sound quality via iPod was excellent as well. The MDI multimedia system is very user-friendly, and the touchscreen is quick to respond.
The Volkswagen Passat TDI is best known for its staggering fuel economy numbers. After a week of leisurely driving in various environments, I was able to get 5.4L/100km. Even so, I know I could have done better. With an as-tested price of just under $36,000, the fuel savings alone make up for the premium paid over the base model. The consumption is astonishing, and the comfort this Passat provides make me want to get out my cheque book and head for the nearest dealer. This car is exquisite.
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI Gallery