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Passat, A4, C-Class in comparison: team performance instead of individual stars

Hans-Dieter Seufert
VW Passat, Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class in comparison
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V forgotten we lead the way, the goal is the goal. That's why we assume that after performances, background stories and driving reports, you finally want to know how good the VW Passat really is. No banter, we get the Audi A4 3.0 TDI Quattro, Mercedes C 300 Bluetec Hybrid and VW Passat 2.0 TDI 4Motion out of the underground car park. And off for it.

Audi and the appeal of maturity

Even with dramaturgical skill it is important to use the Audi to start in front of the VW Passat and the C-Class - and out of courtesy, after all, he, born in 2007, is the age president of the premium middle class. It will stay that way for another year, at Audi they are working on the successor, which should be even better. Which shouldn't be that easy. This is not only due to the maturity of the A4, which is first shown in the naturalness of its excellent workmanship. At the same time, he manages to hide his age. Yes, the MMI infotainment used to be cumbersome to pair with the iPhone 1, the operation sometimes seems cumbersome. But that's about the A4's age zips.

Its compact space is based on the short outer length and the longitudinally installed engine. The driver and front passenger are still comfortably accommodated on the standard sports seats. Adults can also travel comfortably in the somewhat narrow rear. And they are still experiencing something old-fashioned: the three-liter diesel (C-Class 2.1 and VW Passat 2-liter). We're talking about the volume, not the consumption of the V6, which we would have to blame for being less sustainable. But should the half-fat yogis fool around with cycle-optimized downsizers? We start the V6, listen to the gentle crackling of the self-igniter, which sounds like a distant fireplace. A tip of the gas, the TDI adds a few billets, propels the A4 forward without a turbo trailer.

Meanwhile, the S tronic doubles its seven gears without hectic. Everything could also be done manually with gearshift paddling, which the A4 has just as little need as adaptive shock absorbers. Despite the rather tight basic mood, he carefully puts away bumps - empty a little more uncouth than the rivals VW Passat and Mercedes C-Class, but best loaded.

And although he no longer appropriates a more sensitive steering in this generation the A4 is the most agile here. It bends directly, precisely and neutrally in curves, almost circling themunshakable security and pushes itself out with the force of the all-wheel drive. Only: it is expensive, adjusted for equipment it is around 8,700 euros above the VW Passat. But: The A4 still has it.

Mercedes sends hybrid into the race

A hybrid? Yep, the performance class of the most powerful VW Passat is achieved by the C-Class with the combination of the 204 hp 2.1-liter twin-turbo diesel with the 20 kW electric plant. They come together for around 230 HP system power and fine drive harmony. The power of calm lies in the 250 Nm of the electric machine. They overboost the nasty starting weakness that normally plagues the OM 651, making it appear more cultivated and homogeneous than usual.

In addition, the drive control switches off the four-cylinder in push mode up to a speed of 130. The perfectly coordinated cooperation of the engines supports the serene, sometimes almost permissable seven-speed automatic. When driving gently, the higher drive comfort and low consumption outweigh the disadvantages of the hybrid (120 kilos more weight, the lithium-ion battery takes up 45 liters of luggage space).

Because of the tight battery capacity of 0.8 kWh drives The C-Class, however, only rarely and briefly purely electric even in the city. On the autobahn, the diesel usually has to do it alone - and strive to keep up with the stronger rivals VW Passat and Audi A4. This then drives up consumption. Whereby the whole hurry, despite the nice handling talent, does not suit the C, just like the poisonously appealing steering in sport mode or the urge to change loads in the driving dynamics tests. The Mercedes prefers to flatter with the fluffy air suspension anyway.

It accommodates the passengers comfortably. Although the strong backrest inclination is annoying on the back seat, you can make yourself comfortable on the tight upholstery at the front, while you have to familiarize yourself with the cumbersome infotainment controls. The C-Class impresses right away with its comprehensive safety arsenal and the most vehement brakes - although the pedal is more difficult to dose because of the noticeable change between recuperation and braking. But like the more strenuous traction of the rear-wheel drive Mercedes, this is a minor thing - unlike the price of the C 300, which, adjusted for equipment, costs 9,300 euros more than the VW Passat.

VW Passat impresses with team performance

And then comes the VW Passat, which in the end will no longer depend on money. In the beginning it is difficult to grasp its quality. You get out of the A4, beguiled by the grandiose V6 TDI and the devoted workmanship; the 300 Mercedes impresses with drive efficiency and comfort. VW drives a two-liter biturbodiesel with 240 hp, a seven-speed double clutch box, four-wheel drive with Haldex clutch, adaptive damper and fully digital instruments. Butnot a single detail stands out - the team is the star.

Everything starts with VW's modular transverse matrix, which already creates ample space in the Golf thanks to space efficiency. The 61.1 centimeter longer VW Passat achieves the opulence of the luxury class, especially in the rear. Three adults are comfortably accommodated on the cozy back seat. The front armchairs may lack the lateral support of the Audi sports seats, but they are multi-adjustable and very comfortable. Oh, before we forget, the luggage compartment hangs at the very back, with 586 liters, significantly more extensive than the - much shorter - rivals.

Now let's crawl through the VW Passat in search of flaws. And are the only ones to find the sloppy foam wedge that bridges the step between the trunk floor and the folded back seat back. Then nothing. Not everyone has to like the fully digital instruments either, but you don't have to order them either (for 500 euros). They are easy to read and the navigation map between the speedometer and tachometer is particularly easy to see. But it takes time to find this function in the nested on-board computer and select it with the steering wheel buttons. That remains the only operating complexity.

VW Passat develops 240 hp

The two-liter twin-turbo takes off in a very uncomplicated manner - after a small starting weakness. 500 Nm, 240 PS and the excellent traction of the all-wheel drive punch the Passat to 100 km /h in 6.3 seconds. As the Mercedes lags behind - and a few good manners, because the burn nails penetrate the sound insulation. The VW Passat compensates for temper and running culture disadvantages compared to the A4 with the lower consumption. It does this not only with the smaller engine, but also with a trick in the double clutch box: In eco mode, it engages idle when coasting. Otherwise, the gearbox shifts just as quickly and seamlessly as the Audi box - and ideally unaffected by the driver's apparent know-it-all.

The VW Passat also curves just as safely over land, a little less snappy in handling, but neutral, Strong grip, with a lot of feedback and precision in the steering. But he masters the long haul even better, easily coping with even rough bumps without a load. The reserves of the adaptively damped chassis are only used up when fully loaded and on extremely poor roads.

The large Volkswagen surrounds passengers not only with comfort, but also with comprehensive safety equipment. In addition to lane keeping /lane change assistants, there is the emergency assistant. It brings the VW Passat to a stop in the lane if the driver no longer reacts - for example because it has collapsed.

Emergency Assist is part of the driver assistance package, which also includes adaptive cruise control up to 160 km /h counts. Otherwise, the VW Passat costs only 370 euros extra because it requires little computing power. The Passat stops for 955 eurosUp to 210 km /h speed and distance to the vehicle in front.

Whereby it is now the competition that keeps the distance to the VW Passat and has to struggle to keep up with its speed. If the goal was the goal, the VW has achieved it: First.

Editor's note:

We strive for the best possible comparability of the tested vehicles, however, are dependent on the manufacturer on whether the appropriate test vehicles are available at the appropriate time. For this test, Mercedes explicitly opted for a C 300 Bluetec Hybrid. Another comparison test with the new VW Passat - this time as a variant - can be found in the new issue of auto motor und sport . Issue 1/2015 will be available at the kiosk from December 24th.

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