The TSI engine and the 7-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG) combination has always impressed, and while the dry-clutch DSG isn’t without its quirks and faults, power delivery and overall driving experience is excellent.
The turbocharged 1.8 TSI lump pushes out 158bhp (160PS) and an impressive 250Nm torque delivered between 1,500-4,200rpm – enough to take the two-tonne car from 0-100km/h in a cool 8.5 seconds. What’s important though is the flat torque curve that gives it a very punchy mid-range.
In start-stop scenarios, you’ll need to get used to the drive-by-wire throttle’s apparently lag before power kicks in to turn the wheels. And the DSG may appear slightly jerky from stop. Once it starts rolling though, the TSI just goes and goes.
The 4-pot is really quite an eager beaver, and you’ll find overtaking extremely effortless and cruising a joy. If you’re suddenly possessed by your inner racer, then pull the gear lever down to ‘S’ and you’ll be served a different beast. Paddle-shift it too, at your discretion. The TSI will hold revs longer and higher up the rev range to optimise power delivery, and throttle response also becomes quicker.
The Passat never quite feels out of breath, as the TSI will eagerly take you to 220km/h max speed, if you so wish. Watch for the cops, though.
Ride and handling
The Passat’s ride is optimised for comfort, absorbing undulations and the imperfections of the Malaysian tarmac with poise. The ride never feels harsh and while it isn’t a ‘sporty’ handler per se, it’s reassuringly confident and predictable around the bends.
Steering feel is decent, as is braking feel and performance.