ROAD IMPRESSIONS

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

ROAD IMPRESSIONS

The Volkswagen Passat IS coupe

AFTER AN ABSENCE from Volkswagen driving for a considerable time it was interesting to find myself, once a confirmed VW enthusiast whose image in this light has not rubbed away after some fifteen or more years, driving the latest Wolfsburg offering or would have been if I could regard the VW Passat as anything other than a badge-engineered Audi. True, Volkswagen have their own ideas about gear linkage, body styling and suspension rates, but broadly the Passat is an Audi 8o with the VW badge on it, and a rather poor indented Wolfsburg castle symbol on the cross-spoke of the steering wheel.

However, the finish and trim are in the excellent VW tradition and keys and hand-book reminded immediately of my old, well-loved Beetle. And in its own right the Passat LS two-door coupe, which is the car at present being sold by VW dealers in this country, is a very acceptable family car. The LS is the mid-way model with the 1,471 c.c., 75 b.h.p. engine, an economy 1,296 c.c. version and an 85 b.h.p. TS i4-litre model being available, also an estate-car body. As this is basically an Audi there is water-cooling, front-wheel-drive and the special Audi steering geometry which is planned to give straight-line running when braking hard on slippery surfaces or should a front tyre blow out or aquaplaning conditions be encountered the poor man’s Maxaret, although on a different principle. For die-hard Beetle fans, such as I confess still to be, the rear-engined, air-cooled insect persists, in much improved guise. I found the Passat a very willing, restful car, quick about the place without calling for the higher echelons of skill or concentration. It felt less stable, obviously than the BMW I had temporarily exchanged it for, but does corner very safely with no real hint of driven front wheels, the understeer of extremely rapid cornering becQming neutral for the average fast driver. Like my early Beetle, the steering, geared 3i

turns, lock-to-lock, is very smooth and Pleasant, needing a light touch from those accustomed to beefier control. The servo disc/drum brakes, their hydraulic circuit split diagonally, can be forgotten, so effective are they, although when using them one encounters uncomfortably off-set, rather close together pedals, nor is there anywhere to park the left foot.

For Motorway driving I thought the Passat noisy, for the engine buzzes a bit, but this is not really fair criticism, because for a family type car it isn’t excessively loud and also this is another penalty of the British speed-limit, because if the car is allowed to increase its speed towards its 98 m.p.h. maximum, it quietens out quite noticeably. The vague gear change, with the positions clearly marked in the nacelle before the driver, sometimes baulked badly getting into bottom and second. The seats have a durable knap-surfaced cloth trim but are hard in the cushion, although otherwise fairly comfortable on long runs. The front back rests are adjustable by means of small black knobs but the driver found his stiff and tended to reach out and use the higher knob intended for quick release to give back-seat access because the squabs do not move under spring action. On the passenger side the scat back did not move forward properly for this purpose. That, and a knob which came off the rheostat panel-lighting control and a rather nasty

Yale-like petrol-filler-cap key were the only outof-Wolfsburg tradition items I found fault with.

Once you understand their action and allowing for the confusing lighting sequences to comply with the German never-sidelamps-only law, the minor controls are excellent and very neat. Two substantial stalks look after the usual services, with the horn sounded by pressing the steering wheel spoke. Neat little press buttons, with inbuilt lights, look after hazard-warning, rear window heater (Sekurit) and side and headlamps, dipping being by flicking the left stalk lever. The two-speed wipers, properly angled for r.h.d., are operated by the r.h. stalk and there is a powerful electric washer. The shallow simulated wood fascia has also the rheostat knob afbrementioned, excellent fresh-air vents at its extremities, and the simple heater controls, with two horizontal quadrants for positioning and two-speed fan and quantity of air and a big knob for heat-control. The heater is very good indeed and simple to use. The Vdo instruments comprise the ito m.p.h. speedometer and matching dial containing six tell-tales and the heat and fuel gauges, with a Vdo quartz crystal clock of smaller diameter between them, all in a nacelle before the driver. In certain conditions of day-light the fuel contents are almost impossible to read but the gauge is commendably

accurate, if very slow in operating. VW apparently discourage having loose obiects about the car, the stowages being confined to a driver’s under-fascia shelf and a lockable under-fascia drop well. l’hese are unobtrusively placed. The ignition key was a bit difficult to put into the steering-column lock. The interior and internal door handles, and the arm-rests, etc. are very nicely contrived. The turn-indicator stalk and interior lamp-have not been altered to the as for r.h.d. cars but you meet this in far more expensive foreign makes. A cigarette lighter and ashtray are nicely fitted to the underside of the black-finished bulkhead.

I found this orange Passat growing on me and somehow a nicer car than the Audi 80. It goes very ably, doing 0-60 m.p.h. in under 123 seconds and its canted-over, overhead-camshaft engine will rev. to 7,500 r.p.m, which gives you almost 6o in second gear and, without screaming it up quite so much, all but 85 m.p.h. in third gear. The high-gearing of the Beetle is perhaps not quite followed out, 11000 r.p.m. in top gear being equal to 66 m.p.h., so that you are revving a bit hard on our Motorways, in spite of which this is a very happy Passat on such roads. The engine sometimes snatched badly when picking up speed.

The Oiugiaro-styled body is pleasingly crisp and functional in appearance, has generous areas of glass, if rather wide screen pillars, and is very spacious in the back seat, which has no central arm-rest, and in the unobstructed boot, the lid of which is openable without the key, using a turn-control. There are no bumper overriders but the lamp clusters are smart. ‘The Passat LS has rectangular Melia headlamps, which could have given a better full-beam, the small-engined VW having circular lamps, the TS dual headlamps. For a 970-wheelbase car the space within is notable. Another notable feature is the economy, for in normal motoring I obtained 34.4 m.p.g. of 98-octane petrol. The to-gallon tank thus gives a range of around 340 miles. Starting gave no cause for anxiety, being especially prompt after a cold night in the open. The test car was on 13″ Continental tyres.

The steering is rack-and-pinion, the suspension by MacPherson front struts and the dead back axle is sprung on coil springs, which give a generally good ride. Heated rear window, reverslog lamps, “lilted carpets”, heater and untkr-sealing arc standard equipment and the 17 fuses are as accessible as the rest of the servicing items. Note, too, that apart from an oil change every 5,000 miles the Passat needs servicing only at a,000-mile intervals, which is a step towards the long-life, no-liability motor car. Unfortunately the price here of this pleasing Passat is high, £1,729, without seat belts. But even so, the Passat Should be in considerable demand. W.B.