By Nick Jones
Think you can’t afford to run a big car with a two-litre engine delivering 140bhp?
You’re wrong. You can, and it’s a Volkswagen, and that means it must be the Passat Bluemotion.
Without question, the VW Passat is a great car.
It is a car that you feel as refreshed jumping out of after a two or three hour stint behind the wheel as you did when you jumped in.
And this is rapidly becoming very firmly a prestige car.
Yes, you can have a powerful 200+bhp petrol version or a 170bhp diesel, but I like the idea of a Passat with 140bhp and which merges big-car looks and metal with low running costs and is great for the environment – step forward the two-litre TDI Bluemotion version.
It still has the two-litre diesel under the bonnet, but that smooth 140bhp engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Maximum torque is still adequate for overtaking – 320Nm at just 1,750 revs per minute – and it can still deliver a top speed of 132mph thanks to its aerodynamically slippery body.
It will even slide past 60mph from standstill in just under ten seconds.
The economy comes from low-resistance tyres, weight saving measures on-board and a stop/start facility.
Being the manual version I can achieve 61.4 miles per gallon on the combined cycle, safe in the knowledge the planet is benefiting as a result of the emissions being just 119g/km.
An excellent choice one would think for the company car driver that wants a big car for the family, keeping under the £22,000 threshold for tax.
It drives smoothly, has a fair turn of speed and is whisper-quiet and fuss-free.
Trim level options are S, SE and Sport. I usually find myself drawn to the latter but the Passat isn’t what one might normally perceive as a’sporty’ car – I’m thinking big alloys, sports seats, and firm suspension here – so perhaps a few more creature comforts on the inside make more sense.
Even the base ‘S’ version is stacked with airbags, air conditioning, electric windows, iPod interface, leather steering wheel, ABS brakes, EBD and ESP.
As the specifications rise, so does the price, naturally.
Internally, the new car is plusher than ever before and VW retains its crown in my opinion for having one of the best seating positions around on any car.
It feels solidly put together inside and the materials used have gone up another notch on the quality meter.
Space is very generous, three adults can be transported easily in the rear and with 565 litres of boot space – rising to over 1,000 with the back seats be folded down.
If that’s not enough then there is an estate option with nearly 1,800 litres.
The Passat has long been associated with understated looks but that has now been changed, it looks like it’s been to the gym for a tone-up.
LED lights at the front add sparkle, the rear is pert but still recognisable as a VW Passat.
The interior is refreshed, the drive is still excellent and I love the way it doesn’t crave the limelight, merely doing its job – but very well.
Extrovert the rivals may be, but it’s the VW for me every time.
Prices start at just £19,290 for the 1.4-litre TSI, and can rise to £24,850 for the 170bhp two-litre TDI version. My two-litre Bluemotion 140bhp version is just right for me at £21,355.