You have to hand that to VW: as soon as they give a model a name, it quickly hijacks the entire genre. Or does someone still think of the tropical winds when they hear "Passat"? No, the Passat is a car and has been since 1973. At the beginning of 1974, shortly after the hatchback sedan, the Variant appeared, with which the Passat found its final destination. What can the current generation needed?
In the first two generations technically identical to the four-door Audi 80, the VW left this parallelism in 1988 to become the space miracle of the middle class for the first time with a transverse engine. But as early as 1996, the swing back and to the technology of the Audi A4 followed, which burdened customers with high repair bills for the immature four-link front axle that had been thrown onto the market. Since 2005, VW has been back to the transverse drive and its space advantages. In 2014 the current - including all facelifts - eighth generation (Passat B8) was released, which in turn was updated in 2019 to the version still built today.
Of course, it doesn't play a big role on the used market yet, because of Corona, supply chains and such. That is why many leased vehicles are driven longer and come on the market later than after three years. But that's not too bad, because apart from optically hardly recognizable retouching, the facelift Passat takes over the operating concept of the Golf 8 - and thus also its weaknesses and system crashes.
So let's concentrate on the model years 2015 to 2019, which, as VW experts know, always began after the summer plant holidays. However, the first customer vehicles of this model were only delivered in November 2014, so that there are only a few examples with a first registration in that year. Incidentally, this and also the Passat built in 2015 support the thesis that you should not necessarily buy a new car immediately after the start of series production. Because after various complaints, VW felt compelled to turn them off by means of a quality package. The cars were brought up to an acceptable standard in the context of workshop visits, some of which lasted several days. Front cameras and door locks were replaced, diesel lines that sucked in air and caused starting problems were sealed, leaky charge air lines were renewed, the drive on the rear axle was modified in all-wheel drive models and in many cases the entire dashboard, which creaked constantly, was replaced.
Body: Straight and solid
As is well known, true greatness comes from within. And that the inner values count with such an honest middle-class classic is already clear. Over the generations mentioned above, the Passat was almost always one of the most spacious candidates in the middle class.If you park the Passat next to a C-Class (regardless of whether it is a sedan or station wagon), the Mercedes driver would prefer to take the E-Class afterwards, since the Passat sends the Daimler (and most other middle-class cars) to their places. The only exception: the platform-same Skoda Superb, which has an idea more space than the Wolfsburg.
And this place stays sunny even in old age - as long as the drains of the glass panoramic sunroof remain free of kinks and/or dirt. Otherwise, the body has no real weak points. This also applies to the rust-free condition of the previous model, which is not always impeccable with age. Things were still ugly here when the owner dispensed with maintenance and liked to wallow in road salt. The current Passat puts it away.
Interior: More volume - not just at the crown
We have now clarified that there is a lot of space inside the Passat. But what else is there? In any case, until the 2019 facelift, there will be a pretty analog clock in the center console. Unfortunately, that was later saved, as was the usability of all infotainment and comfort functions, which had bordered on perfect to date. That's when the first sat navs without volume controls arrived, accompanied by stumbling reaction times and operation that could no longer be mastered blindly. This is big crap that you can read about in every Golf 8 Report .
Unfortunately, the previously used radio and navigation systems are not spared from failures. In addition to software-related crashes, there are always failures of an amplifier output stage, which silences all audio functions. So listening to the radio is part of the test drive! Then please turn it down again and listen for cracking noises from the cockpit (e.g. when warming up). You would also have to stay away from the first years of construction - thanks to the improvement. If the speedometer housing cracks, there is a chance of getting a new instrument as a gesture of goodwill.
Otherwise, the indifference with which the Passat and its interior surfaces sniff up the kilometers inspires. If wear and tear can be seen here, it must be assumed that it was intentional. Excepted - and completely typical for VW: the greasy shiny steering wheel even at low mileage. This condition sets in quickly, but it feels like it lasts forever.
It's a good thing that the 1.4 TSI has blossomed from a problem child that used to eat timing chains in the EA211 version that has been in production since the beginning of 2013 to a stable drive for all cases. So nothing speaks against a purchase. Especially since the diesels, from a mechanical point of view, easily achieve astronomical mileages, but occasionally also have defective exhaust gas recirculation valves (EGR valve) or leaking oil-water heat exchangers. This not only applies to the Passat, but to almost everything that bears the abbreviation TDI in the vehicle registration document.The symptoms, i.e. a lack of cooling water with mucus forming in the oil cap, usually indicate a defective cylinder head gasket or worse. When this phenomenon first appeared in the first 2.0 TDI in the mid-nineties, entire cylinder heads were dismantled and checked for leaks. It's a pity that this oil loss, which can be repaired at least fairly cheaply, is still an issue.
Anyone who drives fast and complains about a lack of cooling water (and that at most once or twice a year) can quickly open the bonnet after a brisk drive on the motorway and use their olfactory organ. Does it smell sweet and damp? This is their cooling water. It tends to diffuse through hoses in minute amounts at high temperatures. That is normal.
The exact engine selection is almost secondary. There are always only two different-sized aggregates per type of fuel for each year of construction and each in different stages of expansion. The basic rule is: More than the golden 150 hp mean is necessary at most for very fast motorway drivers. However, less (e.g. the very economical 1.6 TDI, which is otherwise identical to the version with more displacement) will also do – although we clearly recommend manual transmissions here. Why? Because otherwise a vulnerable dry DSG is in use.
Transmission: It's better to shift gears yourself
However, a VW specialty is the DSG automatic, the name of which has become common over time, although the term "direct shift transmission" basically makes no sense. In any case, it belongs to the family of double-clutch transmissions, which already describes the problem by its name. Because one of the two clutches tries to pull away, and even 20 years after the start of series production (2002, in the Golf 4 R32), the electric actuators still do not operate it as perfectly as a practiced clutch foot. But that only bothers you when driving off quickly; once in motion, gear changes are quick and smooth.
From a purely mechanical point of view, the DSG boxes have now reached a high level of maturity. But that doesn't mean that a switching mechanism doesn't have to be replaced. In general, the six-speed automatics and the "big" seven-speed DSG with their oil-bath clutches are a bit more solid, they react more calmly to operating errors, such as holding the vehicle on a hill by gently accelerating. But the dry clutches of the "small" seven-speed gearbox (for engines up to and including 250 Nm torque) get heat stressed after a few seconds. Much of the premature wear complaints are due to such abuse.
However, the driver has no influence on the scratching when engaging second gear. In this case, the synchro rings are gone, the gearbox has to be dismantled and the gear wheels of the second one have to be replaced.With that, the problems of the power transmission would already be ticked off, with the exception of general defects such as torn drive shaft boots. The Passat Alltrack, the slightly jacked version for gravel roads, is more affected by them anyway. It does have a small underride protection, but if you really break through the undergrowth with it, you could possibly complain about consequential damage.
Chassis: Level-headed and stable
But what do the monitoring organizations like the TÜV say about the Passat B8 (also called 3G)? The statistics initially paint a mixed picture. Because the number of vehicles without recognizable defects at the first general inspection after three years at the latest is 1.2 percent below the average - those with significant defects, on the other hand, are 1.2 percent higher. And now comes the big but, because the average mileage with which these Passats drive up to the TÜV is 61.4 percent higher than the average of all vehicles tested! They're just typical sales representatives' carriages, at home in the left lane. Therefore, the only serious defect that the TÜV has to check more often is wear on the brake discs.
The discs on the rear axle also tend to rust and score marks - it will be interesting to see whether VW will ever manage to mount brake discs there, which can also stay in the rain for a few days without suffering irreparable rust marks. Apart from that, the TÜV has little to complain about, complaints about the wheel suspension are only found in the per thousand range. However, it cannot be overlooked on our test copy that the trailing arm bushings on the rear axle have already been renewed. Is it due to trailer operation? At least the car has a used-looking hook.
Occasionally, when you look under the sheet metal, you will find minimally deformed wheel bearing housings (play and cracking, but no humming noises).
And how does it all work? As true to line as a small town cop checking mopeds. You could almost say he doesn't take a joke. The Passat drives taut but never too taut, soft but not too soft, absolutely precise and a bit cold in the steering. But despite all the malice: It just works damn well. If you want something watter, you can choose the adjustable chassis DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control). It has an irrelevant sport mode and a billowingly soft comfort tune.
Shortcomings: Long list without bold print
Oil leaks occasionally. This often has its origin in incorrectly assembled oil filter housings. Because VW has been using so-called eco-filters for years, in which only the paper insert ends up in the garbage and not the entire cartridge as in the past. Unfortunately, some mechanics and many do-it-yourselfers find it too much to place the sealing ring for the housing cover correctly.There is a similar phenomenon with diesel filters: there the sealing ring forms a unit with the filter insert and must first be attached to the housing cover. Otherwise fuel may escape or air may enter, causing starting problems.
Small cause, big effect, that also applies to a number of bizarre problems. A fuel line that is incorrectly routed in the fuel tank can lead to an incorrect reading on the fuel gauge; the adaptive cruise control does not work when the sun is coming from the front or because a wrong VW symbol on the radiator grille does not let the radar waves through. Water can penetrate the steering gear. Creaking when steering requires an immediate replacement - or it may just be due to jammed strut mounts. At this point, the warning about the panoramic glass roof should not be missing: After a certain time, its water drain hoses tend to kink in the A-pillars. In the worst case, a plug connection in the main wiring harness will drown, and then there will be the worst error messages.
Prices: Good, not cheap
There are almost 9,000 Passats on the used portals - despite all the prevailing crises. With a lot of luck you can get very, very early ones and quite – well – a medium number of kilometers for just under 14,000 euros. Prices between 16 and 18,000 euros are more realistic. The direct competitor Opel Insignia B, which we recently recommended in the used car check , costs a similar amount, but is usually younger. If you transfer this to the facelift version of the Passat, there is an even bigger difference in price and usability. In both cases, the Opel has the edge. The really good offers for the Passat B8 are at least three years old.
With the eighth generation of the Passat, VW has put a solid mid-range model on the road. Like its predecessors, it achieves very high mileage with little repair work, although the wide distribution that is typical of the brand is also useful: Every workshop knows what goes wrong and how it is repaired. The many small potential vulnerabilities we're talking about can also be attributed in part to the sheer volume of all Passat B8s built. Therefore: If you are looking for a spacious and comfortable pack donkey, you can fulfill your dream of the nation's station wagon with the Variant.