Towcar test: VW Passat 2.0S TDI
In a word: solid. VW has a knack of engineering in the impression of superior build quality as standard. Behind the wheel, it's smooth and refined, but with only 140PS on tap, it isn't going to set any lap records.
HOW'S IT TOW?
The Passat's size and weight make it an outstanding towcar rivalling small 4x4s and prestige estates in towability terms. While maximum torque is available at a usefully low 1750 rpm, maximum power isn't available until 4000 rpm and a few more horses, or whatever they put under the bonnet nowadays, wouldn't go amiss.
WHAT CAN IT TOW?
Going by the manufacturer's maximum towing weight of 1800kg,just about any single axle 'van and a handful of twin axles. However, assuming a part-laden Passat and sticking to the 85 per cent rule, we'd recommend a caravan with a MTPLM of no more than 1700kg. So we'd include the following in our shortlist:
Bailey Senator Indiana
Adria Adiva 642UP
Coachman VIP 530/4
Elddis Odyssey 540
HOW MUCH ROOM DOES IT OFFER FOR CLUTTER?
The Passat has grown bigger with every new model and this, the sixth incarnation, is the biggest yet - boasting 92mm extra length and 74mm additional width.
This not only means loads of shoulder and legroom for the driver and up to four passengers - it also means the boot will swallow 513 litres of clobber.
HOW MUCH WILL A TOWBAR COST?
Volkswagen quotes £130 for a standard fixed towbar (£250 for a detachable version) to which electrics and fitting need to be added.
WHAT'S FUEL ECONOMY LIKE?
Excellent. VW's TDI diesel technology is amongst the best on the market. Expect to average over 45mpg unhitched and around 30mpg with the 'van on the back.
WHAT'S THE BUILD QUALITY LIKE?
Superb. The Passat feels uniformly well screwed together and at an average mileage of 12,000 a year, after three years' considerate use, it will only just feel run in.
AND THE COMFORT?
The increased dimensions mean there's more space for everyone to stretch out and the ride is smooth and composed. Seats are typically Teutonic - firm and supportive.
HOW MUCH WILL IT BE WORTH WHEN YOU SELL IT?
Volkswagens enjoy some of the best used values in the business, so you can legitimately expect to get more than 50 per cent of the purchase price back after three years/60,000 miles.
WHAT SORT OF VALUE FOR MONEY DOES IT OFFER?
It's not cheap compared to its rivals and you'll be lucky to negotiate much of a discount from a dealer, but as well as taking on rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Peugeot 407, in terms of size and quality, the Passat also offers a viable alternative to larger prestige cars from Mercedes and Audi.