Do to a few mix-ups in scheduling a review vehicle for the week I had to settle on a diesel powered Passat Wagon. Why would I even bother you ask, for a few reasons. First diesel engines are prevalent in German made cars. Almost every VW comes with an optional diesel, as do a few Mercedes including the new E320. One of the other big reasons was the surge in unleaded gasoline prices that everyone is happy to cover ad nauseam these days. Diesel is a lot less expensive at the pump and you get much better mileage.
The very first thought I had when getting in had absolutely nothing to do with powerplants or mileage. It dawned on me I hadn't sat in a VW since testing the unique R32 a few months back and before that it had been years since I drove the then recently redesigned Jetta. So on the eve of the company's next redesign, this 2004 Passat is the last of its kind. It's easy to see why the company stuck so long with what they had. The interior fit and finish just feels much more expensive than the sticker price would suggest and even in this bulky wagon skin the VW handles like a German tourer. Tomorrow we'll talk engines, fuel economy etc. but for now we'll just get used to driving a German car again.