2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Highline
2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Highline
2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Highline. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Haney Louka

At first blush, it might seem a bit much to ask someone to pay $38,000 for a sedan with a 140-hp engine. But when that sedan is VW’s attractive and roomy Passat, and the engine is the company’s torquey yet thrifty diesel powerplant, it starts to make more sense.

True, the Passat starts at a door-crashing $23,975, but that Trendline model includes VW’s uninspiring 2.5L five-cylinder mill, though for 2014 it will be replaced by a much more impressive 1.8L turbo. Good news for diesel fans though: the TDI (for “turbocharged direct-injection”) diesel engine is available in Trendline trim with a six-speed stick and a sticker price of $26,575. Standard equipment on this entry-level trim includes 16-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker audio, heaters for the front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, auto up/down for all windows, disc brakes and independent suspension at all four corners, and a four-year comprehensive warranty.

The diesel engine is also available at the Comfortline level for $29,675, adding a folding armrest up front, iPod interface, power driver’s seat, leatherette upholstery, 17-inch alloys, a sunroof, and some other goodies.

Our tester was the TDI Highline, which starts at $32,875 for the manual version and $34,550 with the six-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Included in that princely sum is remote start, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a 400-watt Fender audio system, wood interior trim (which I could do without), and leather sport seats. VW saw fit to send us a full-whack tester that also had the $1,250 navigation option (including rear-view camera) and $700 sport package. The sport package upgrades the 17-inch alloys to 18s, replaces the old-man wood trim with faux carbon fibre, adds paddle shifters for the automatic, plus throws in a subtle and tasteful rear decklid spoiler. That package is a bargain.

After the dust settled, our tester rang the register at $36,500 before destination and taxes.

The only way to spend more on a Passat is to opt for the 3.6L V6 that pumps out 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. To get one equipped the same way as our tester one would need to kick in another two grand.

The prices noted above are all for TDI-equipped models, which in my opinion is the only way to go in a Passat. From behind the wheel, the aforementioned 140 horsepower is a non-issue, thanks to the availability of 236 lb-ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. While ultimately not as quick as the V6, the TDI excels at providing accessible power resulting in a palpable thrust without making a fuss. Translation: effortless speed that will please all but the most power-hungry.

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Highline2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Highline
2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Highline. Click image to enlarge

While diesels have come a long way in recent years, one should not expect a near-silent purr from under the hood. The distant clatter persists, particularly under acceleration with a cold engine. But for the most part, particularly when the windows are closed, there is little audible evidence that there is an oil-burner under the hood.

Unlike the smaller Golf and Jetta models with the same engine, the Passat requires “AdBlue” to meet emissions requirements. AdBlue is VW’s trade name for a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) additive used to treat the exhaust upstream of the catalytic converter and reduce the NOx content of the car’s tailpipe emissions. The fluid is a cocktail of urea and de-ionized water that is heated to a vapour by the catalytic converter causing a chemical that produces ammonia and carbon dioxide. The ammonia reacts with the oxides of nitrogen in the exhaust stream to form water and nitrogen.

Owners should be aware of the requirement for AdBlue because it requires topping up approximately every 15,000 km. It would typically be done by the dealer at routine maintenance intervals, but it looks like a simple task for do-it-yourselfers as well.

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