Volkswagen Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI DSG 4Motion – giant road test. Short of the R-Line, this is about as much Passat as you can buy for your money, with substantial performance, total traction and excellent handling along with good fuel economy and a very high specification…
First shown at the Paris Motor Show in October 2014, the latest Passat made its appearance here in the UK in January 2015, with our first drive report published in the March issue and we’ve previously tested the Passat Saloon GT 2.0 TDI with 190 PS and 6-speed DSG, in Drive-My May 2015 article. This is the eighth-generation of the Passat. Based on the latest MQB platform engineering strategy that also benefits the Mk 7 Golf, it is completely new in terms of its design, technologies and engines and although it provides more interior space the new Passat is hardly any larger while also weighing less than its predecessor.
The wheelbase is 79 mm longer at 2791 mm and while it’s actually slightly shorter (at 4767 mm long, both the Saloon and Estate are two millimetres shorter than the previous model) with the Estate also 39 mm lower at 1477 mm, and 12 mm wider, thanks to the longer wheelbase improved use of interior space provides more legroom, headroom and load capacity. The boot space of the Saloon is up by 21 litres to 586 litres and the carrying capacity of the Estate has improved by 47 litres, to 650 litres for the boot area with seats up, expanding to 1780 litres (+49 litres) with the rear seats fully folded.
Despite its dimensional advantages, the new construction techniques mean that it is as much as 85 kg lighter than before and in conjunction with a range of more efficient engines the fuel economy figures have been improved by up to 14 per cent.
For the time being, only diesel engines are available in the UK; all are the new EA288 series, EU6 compliant and ranging in power from a 120 PS 1.6 TDI, through two 2.0-litre TDI units with 150 or 190 PS, to the range-topping 2.0-litre bi-turbo with 240 PS, 7-speed DSG gearbox and 4MOTION four-wheel drive, as tested here.
There’s also an all-wheel drive Alltrack version of the Estate, a frugal BlueMotion with a 1.6 TDI engine, claimed to return 78 mpg and a plug-in hybrid GTE version with both a 1.4 TSI petrol engine and an electric motor providing a maximum system output of 218 PS and range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles). Five trim levels are offered: S, SE, SE Business, GT and R-Line, all with a high level of standard features. SE and above come with features like Front Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Crash system, Driver Profile Selection, Ergo Comfort seats and front and rear parking sensors, while the SE Business, aimed at fleet drivers, adds Discover Navigation. The GT, as tested here, also comes with heated Alcantara seats, three-zone climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, while the range-topping R-Line adds a host of bespoke design features and has LED headlights as standard.
New technologies offered as options on the new Passat include the optional Active Info Display, which replaces the instrument cluster with a fully configurable interactive 12.3-inch TFT display and a headup display; the latest Modular Infotainment System, including Car-Net Guide and Inform; a further-developed 360-degree Area View function; and the latest generation of Park Assist which includes the option for the car to park itself forwards into perpendicular spaces as well as parallel parking. It also includes a world-first Trailer Assist system, which provides assistance when reversing a vehicle with a trailer attached – without any modification or adaptation of the trailer.
Safety systems include Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert; Traffic Jam Assist which aids stop-and-go driving in traffic; Emergency Assist, which can halt a vehicle if the driver is incapacitated; the latest Front Assist system with City Emergency Braking, as well as predictive pedestrian protection. The best-selling model is the 150 PS 2.0 TDI with manual gearbox in SE and SE Business trims, with over 80 per cent expected to be sold into the fleet market, with slightly more Estates (51 per cent) than saloons sold here in the USA, Canada and GB (all AU and NZ).
So, admittedly, this high-powered 240 PS 2.0 Bi-TDI in Estate form isn’t likely to be the most prevalent model, but it provide a highly desirable combination of features, with very high performance and excellent fuel economy, plus the handling and traction to match, along with both refinement and practicality to help justify its substantial £36,175 price tag. In fact, this test car had quite a few optional extras, more of which later, to bump the price up to £42,060.
The big advantage of this engine and drivetrain combination is its impressive performance, tractability and fuel economy. As with all of the EA288 range, it incorporates the turbochargers and the intercooler integrated with the induction manifold as well as a complex exhaust gas recirculation system with emissions control provided by an oxidation catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter (DPF), with nitrogen oxides reduced by means of an SCR system (selective catalytic reduction) using the AdBlue reducing agent.
Optimised to reduce internal friction, with an oil pump with two pressure levels and volumetric flow control, separate cooling circuits for the cylinder head and the crankcase, with a water pump that can be deactivated, the new TDI engines warm up faster, with benefits for performance, emissions and fuel-efficiency. With high torque output, they’re also very refined and smooth-running, with the 2.0-litre engines having two balancer shafts to reduce free inertial forces.
This 240 PS 2.0 Bi-TDI unit is the most powerful four-cylinder direct-injection turbodiesel engine ever offered by Volkswagen, with a specific output of 120 PS per litre of displacement. With the crankcase, crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons all uprated and a high-performance cylinder head also utilised, with piezo injectors capable of pressures of up to 2,500 bar, it uses a compact bi-turbo module with a high-pressure and a low-pressure turbocharger in series to provide boost levels of up to 3.8 bar. Maximum power of 240 PS (176 kW) is developed at a modest 4000 rpm, with a prodigious maximum torque of 500 Nm (360 lb.ft) produced between 1750 and 2500 rpm. Nominally, it is almost as powerful but considerably more torquey than the 250 PS 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine that was used in previous generations of Passat and its performance is in the same league, with an official 0-62 mph acceleration time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 148 mph (150 mph for the Saloon).
Check out our comparative performance chart and you’ll see that its power to weight ratio is identical, but with the extra torque it beats the 3.2 V6 hands down in all the performance increments; we recorded a best 0-60 mph time of 6.2 seconds and got to 80 mph almost half a second faster, with the in-gear times also significantly quicker.
The latest Gen 5 Haldex controlled 4Motion all-wheel drive system and 7-speed DSG transmission certainly play their part here, with perfectly controlled traction to put the power down cleanly and seamless shifts up through the ratios, although in normal use the engine feels very refined, civilised and tractable. Indeed, anyone expecting it to feel gutsy and urgent, straining at the leash like an aggressive animal, will be rather disappointed. It is only when it is deliberately and fully extended that this engine delivers its full performance and even then it does it in such a fuss-free manner that it is easily controlled and reined in. There is, of course, not a hint of wheelspin or torque steer, just an effortless surge of acceleration.
Despite the high power output and huge performance potential, the fuel economy of this 2.0 Bi-TDI is very impressive. As well as its basic thermal efficiency, the new model benefits from BlueMotion Technology (BMT) with stop/start and battery regeneration, with the DSG also providing coasting on the over-run when using the Efficiency mode. The official test figures for combined usage are 53.2 mpg for the Saloon and 52.3 for the Estate, with CO2 emissions of 139 and 140 g/km respectively.
Of course, we didn’t achieve quite that level of efficiency, but an overall average figure of 45.6 mpg and an economy driving figure of 56.1 mpg are very acceptable indeed for a car with this level of performance. We don’t yet have enough long-term experience with cars that have the SCR system, but the AdBlue tank is claimed to be good for over 5,000 miles before needing to be topped up.
The dynamic performance – handling and braking – of the new Passat is also at a very high level. The MQB platform uses the latest generation strut-type coil-spring suspension at the front along with a four-link independent rear suspension, with gas-filled shock absorbers and tubular front and rear anti-roll bars. The 240 PS 2.0 Bi-TDI also comes with both the XDS electronic differential lock and DCC Dynamic Chassis Control (adaptive damping) as standard; both are usually extracost options on the other models.
XDS, which shouldn’t be confused with the special front diff used on the Golf GTI, uses selective modulation of the ABS braking system to apply a vectoring effect to improve the handling; during fast cornering it slows down the wheels on the inside of the bend, aiding the steering and improving agility.
With DCC the ride height is reduced by 10 mm lower while the system itself offers three settings for the dampers according to the driving modes selected on the Driver Profile Selection (DPS) system. Even in the Normal setting the system is adaptive, with the dampers continually readjusting to suit the prevalent driving style, but selecting Comfort or Sport settings either softens or firms up the damping accordingly, while in the Individual setting the damping can be adjusted separately from the other parameters such as accelerator response and steering weight.
Standard wheels and tyres on the 2.0 Bi-TDI are 8J x18-inch alloys, a five-paired 10-spoke style called Oxford Anthracite, fitted with 235/45 R18 tyres – in this case Continental’s Conti Sport Contact 5 – and it also comes equipped with a full-sized alloy spare wheel and conventional tyre, stored under the boot floor; somewhat ironic given that these tyres are self-sealing and that so many models these days only come with a puncture repair kit. A real ‘belt and braces’ job, our test car also came with the £135 option of an electronic tyre pressure monitoring system that shows actual tyre pressures on each corner in real time on a graphic display on the touchscreen.
In conjunction with the obvious advantage of the all-wheel drive system, the 240 PS Bi-TDI not only provides excellent performance and handling as a driver’s car but it is also eminently suited for towing. In fact, as reported in our August 2015 issue, this test model was the very car that was entered by Volkswagen in this year’s Towcar awards, winning the 1700-1899 kg class and pipped to the overall title only by its more cost-effective sibling the 2.0 TDI (150 PS) SE Business with 6-speed DSG.
Not only does it have a braked towing capacity on a 12 per cent incline of up to 2200 kg, but this example was also fitted with the £875 optional swivelling towbar with electric release, operated by a switch inside the load bay, alongside the rear seat release, and as well as a trailer stabilisation function in the ESP it also had the Trailer Assist function that automatically controls the steering when reversing with a trailer.
Clearly capable of towing and carrying heavy loads, up to the total permitted vehicle weight of 2310 kg, the Passat GT also comes with an equally powerful braking system, with 340 mm vented front discs and 310 mm vented rears. Powerful and progressive, it comes with all the usual electronic braking aids – ABS, Brake Assist (BAS) and EBD (electronic brake pressure distibution) as well as an electronic parking brake (EPB).
Mounted on the centre console on the lefthand side, away from the driver, this is not just a parking brake but also a very powerful emergency brake, best not fiddled with while on the move. Auto hold and hill hold functions are standard, useful in heavy stopstart traffic and for pulling away on slopes. The Passat GT also has keyless start.
Provided the keys are in the car, even in your own pocket, you simply use the push button on the centre console to start and stop the engine. It’s a good idea, though, to keep the keys in a regular spot or you’ll find yourself rummaging around for them when leaving the car; or, even worse, forget to switch off and leave the car running.
Inside, the GT has features like Alcantara centre sections and leather bolsters for the ergo-Comfort front seats, with electrical adjustment on the driver’s side, although our test car came with the £680 Nappa leather upholstery pack which also provides sound-insulating safety glass on the front side and rear windows.
The GT’s seats are heated as standard, while the test car also came with the optional (£135) heated steering wheel, welcome on cold mornings, as well as the £150 heated windscreen. This is a mixed blessing, great for clearing frost but the fine elements in the screen do tend to scatter the light on bright sunny days and when driving at night and this can be rather distracting.
With the GT, the dash and door panels feature brushed aluminium inserts, with Piano black decorative inserts on the centre console, as well as leather trim for the three-spoke multifunction steering wheel and the gearknob and gearshift gaiter.
Equipment levels are high, with three-zone climate control, ambient lighting and a colour multifunction display, along with Bluetooth and audio connections, and the GT comes with the Discover Navigation system with 6.5-inch colour touchscreen as standard. The test car had been upgraded to the (£815) Discover Navigation Pro system with integrated voice control, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen for the nav, along with DVD, CD and DAB radio functions. It also has the Mirrorlink provision, so that specific apps on an Android smartphone can be mirrored on the touchscreen display. Also included in this package are online upgrades for the nav software for three years.
The infotainment system of this test car was also enhanced with the £885 ‘Dynaudio Confidence’ soundpack, with its 10-channel digital amplifier, 700 watt output and 10 speakers. The list goes on, with the test car also featuring LED premium headlights with LED daytime running lights, curve lighting and headlight washers (£1,205). Even the Indium grey metallic paintwork on our test car was an option, costing £540.
There are plenty of other expensive options, but we doubt that anyone will ever find the time to read up on them all, let alone make full use of them, even if you can afford it.
In any case, the standard specification is quite high enough to cater for most everyday requirements, and the brochure has a lot more pages than our road-test feature. There’s just one decision to make, though, before putting your money down on a GT 2.0 Bi-TDI and that is that you can also enjoy the benefits of ample performance along with TDI fuel economy and four-wheel drive with the Passat Alltrack, also based on the Estate, which comes with the 190 PS 2.0 TDI engine and 6-speed DSG at just £33,935. You’ll need to have a careful look at the spec sheet, because there are a few features, like the DCC, which the Alltrack lists as options rather than standard, but that price differential allows plenty of room for manoeuvre.
On the other hand, if only the very best will do, then the 2.0 Bi-TDI is also available with the R-Line specification which provides a whole host of special styling features, as well as the LED headlights as standard. Beyond that, there is only the new A4 Avant with a 3.0 V6 TDI and quattro drivetrain to compare with the performance of this potent Passat.
‘There are plenty of other expensive options, but we doubt that anyone will ever find the time to read up on them all, let alone make use of them all, even if you can afford it…’
‘The carrying capacity of the Estate has improved by 47 litres, to 650 litres with seats up…’
SCR catalytic converter
An important component of the emissions control system on this 240 PS TDI model (and the 190 PS 2.0 TDI) is the SCR (selective catalytic reduction) catalytic converter. In combination with the oxidation catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter (DPF), the SCR system is mounted close to the engine for quick warm-up and reaction. The specially coated SCR catalytic converter converts the nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the exhaust gas into nitrogen (N2) and water (H2O), with the conversion aided (catalysed) by the injection of synthetically produced AdBlue. This is carried in a 13-litre tank and has to be topped up every 9,000 km (approx. 5,600 miles) through the filler point adjacent to the fuel filler cap.
Facts and figures: Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI SCR 4Motion
|Displacement 1968 cc|
|Bore and stroke 81.0 x 95.5 mm|
|Power output 240 PS (176 kW) @ 4000 rpm|
|Maximum torque 369 lb.ft. (500 Nm) @ 1750-2500 rpm|
|Valves per cylinder 2 inlet, 2 exhaust|
|TOTAL FUEL CONSUMPTION|
|Overall test value 45.6 mpg, 6.2 l/100km|
|Economical driving 56.1 mpg, 5.0 l/100km|
|urban cycle 43.5 mpg, 6.5 l/100km|
|Extra urban cycle 60.1 mpg, 4.7 l/100km|
|Total 52.3 mpg, 5.4 l/100km|
|Fuel required Diesel|
|Fuel tank capacity 14.5 gallons, 66 litres|
|CO2 emission 140|
|Maximum speed 147 mph, 236 kph|
|0–50 mph 4.7 sec|
|0–60 mph 6.2 sec|
|0–70 mph 8.3 sec|
|0–80 mph 10.5 sec|
|30–50 mph (3rd gear) 2.4 sec|
|30–50 mph (4th gear) –|
|50–70 mph (3rd gear) 3.6 sec|
|50–70 mph (4th gear) –|
|50–70 mph (5th gear) –|
|0 mph (6th gear) / Acceleration figures recorded using VI Monitor.|
‘This 240 PS 2.0-litre Bi-TDI unit is the most powerful four-cylinder directinjection turbo-diesel engine ever offered by Volkswagen’
‘An overall average figure of 45.6 mpg and an economy driving figure of 56.1 mpg are very acceptable indeed for a car with this level of performance…’
‘Despite the high power output and huge performance potential, the fuel economy of this 2.0 Bi-TDI is very impressive…’
‘Despite its dimensional advantages, the new construction techniques mean that it is as much as 85 kg lighter than before and fuel economy has been improved…’
|VERSION||Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI SCR 4MOTION
|Passat Saloon GT 2.0 TDI
|Passat Saloon SEl 2.0 TDI
|Passat Sport V6 4MOTION
|T5 Caravelle Executive
2.0 Bi-TDI DSG
|Power output, PS/kW||240/176||190/140||170/125||250/184||180/132|
|Maximum torque, lb.ft./Nm||369/500||295/400||258/350||236/320||295/400|
|Maximum speed, mph/kph||147/236||146/235||138/223||153/246||119/191|
|0–50 mph, sec||47||65||59||50||84|
|0–60 mph, sec||62||84||79||66||114|
|0–70 mph, sec||83||109||103||86||145|
|0–80 mph, sec||105||139||132||109||195|
|30–50 mph (third gear), sec||24||34||35||29||48|
|30–50 mph (fourth gear), sec||–||–||–||–||–|
|50–70 mph (third gear), sec||36||45||45||43||73|
|50-70 mph (fourth gear) sec||–||–||–||–||–|
|50–70 mph (fifth gear), sec||–||–||–||–||–|
|50–70 mph (sixth gear), sec||–||–||–||–||–|
|Overall fuel consumption, mpg / l /100 km||45.6/6.2||48.9/5.7||42.3/6.6||27.9/10.1||34.6/8.2|
|Unladen weight, lb/kg||3825/1735||3415/1549||3260/1478||3984/1807||5240/2377|
|Power/weight ratio, PS per ton /PS per tonne||140/138||124/122||117/115||140/138||77/75|
|Test publication date||Dec 2015||May 2015||Dec 2007||Sept 2006||Feb 2011|
|Overall length/width/height (inches) 187.8/82.1/58.2|
|Overall length/width/height (mm) 4767/2083*/1477|
|Wheelbase 109.9 in, 2791 mm|
|Track, front/rear 62.4/61.5 in, 1584/1568 mm|
|Turning circle 38.4 ft, 11.7 m|
|unladen weight 3825 lb, 1735 kg|
|Total permitted weight 5092 lb, 2310 kg|
Permitted trailer load; with brakes 4850 lb, 2200 kg
Permitted trailer load; without brakes 1653 lb, 750 kg
luggage capacity, seat up/folded 650/1780 litres
Wheels and tyres 8.0J x 18 alloys 235/45 R18
|Prices UK-SPEC RHD|
Golf Alltrack 2.0 TDI (184 PS) 4MOTION 6-speed manual £30,595
|Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI (150 PS) SCR BMT 4MOTION 6-speed manual £30,855|
|Passat Estate GT 2.0 TDI (190 PS) SCR BMT 6-speed auto DSG £31,045|
|Passat Estate R-Line 2.0 TDI (190 PS) BMT 6-speed auto DSG £32,040|
|Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI (190 PS) SCR BMT 4MOTION 6-speed auto DSG £33,935|
|Passat Saloon GT 2.0 BiTDI (240 PS) SCR BMT 4MOTION 7-speed auto DSG £34,625|
|Passat Estate GT 2.0 BiTDI (240 PS) SCR BMT 4MOTION 7-speed auto DSG £36,175|
|Passat Estate R-Line 2.0 BiTDI (240 PS) SCR BMT 4MOTION 7-speed auto DSG £37,170|