Click on the image for a gallery of high-res images of the 2007 Volkswagen Passat.

This is the second part of a review of the 2007 Volkswagen Passat TDI. Yesterday we covered the Passat's pricing, appearance and some of its many features. Click here to read part one.

Today we cover the interior, safety, economy and on-road performance.

Probably the first thing you'll notice if you hop in and go to turn the car on though is the key fob itself. Instead of a traditional key, the entire key fob slots into the dash for push-button electronic on / off operation. VW thought of everything though because hidden inside the key fob is a "conventional", plastic key which can gain you access to the vehicle but will not start it up. This allows you to leave the (expensive - $500!) key fob locked in the car while you go surfing and just take the plastic key into the water.



Like the on / off control, the parking brake is also a push-button job located close to the ignition switch, and must be engaged for the car to be turned off. An associated feature is the Auto Hold function which neatly answers the question, "I'm on the side of a hill and I don't have a hand brake to stop me rolling back down, what do I do?" Again a push-button operated feature, this time flanking the transmission, Auto Hold automatically activates the electronic parking brake for painless hill starts. Eliminating the hand brake has the added benefit of freeing up room around centre console, resulting in a simple, uncluttered layout.

Continue reading part two of the review after the jump.

  • The Passat, sharing common styling with the rest of the Volkswagen range, looks great from the front
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The chrome highlights around the grill really announce the Passat, although it looks a bit garish matched with Deep Black paint
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Parallel crease lines down the flanks present an elegant profile
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Chrome highlights continue around to the rear
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Note rear parking sensors, boot mounted lights are different (only one reversing light) and VW logo boot release
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • This Passat is a TDI model but there is no mention of this via insignias on the car
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The rear lights look great and the finish is great
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Note the circular ring of LEDs around the main lights
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Indicator on to show the LEDs in operation - this is really eye catching when travelling behind a Passat
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Rear VW logo forms the boot release - a common design element across a number of current generation Volkswagen models
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Opening the boot
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Right, rear lights - no reversing light on this side
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Dividers in the left and right of the boot proved to be handy for holding items likely to slide around otherwise
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Flip-down hooks in the boot for holding shopping bags are a simple, but really useful idea
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The floor of the huge boot hides a full-sized, alloy spare tire - take note BMW
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The boot lift arms are contained internally so they never get in the way of your luggage
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • More eye catching LED indicators are hidden in the wing mirrors
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Downward angled exhaust pipes are the only indication from the outside that this is the TDI model
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Biodiesel is banned! From all reports though, it works just fine
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • When it comes to filling up, you don't want to mistakenly put petrol in this puppy - half the car has to be taken apart to get to and drain the fuel tank
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Great torque from this engine
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • 17 x 7.5" 'Le Mans' alloy wheels standard with 18 x 8" 'Chicago' alloys with lowered sports suspension an option
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Halogen headlights standard with Bi-Xenon headlights an option
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • They definitely look a whole light brighter at night!
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Front VW logo is super shiny
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • 4 cylinder in-line turbo diesel
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Ingenious umbrella holder with drainage inside the drivers' door
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Bring your own umbrella though - there is not one supplied with the car, or a Volkswagen branded option available for sale in Australia
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The driver's seat has 6-way electric adjustment for backrest and lumbar
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Left hand steer stalks on a right hand drive car... grrrrr
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The seats are comfortable
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The driver's view - note auto-off headlights which you can leave on permanently without flattening the battery
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Chrome hightlights make their way inside the car as well
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Fuel cap release and boot release very close together
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • All the ususal electric gizmos
  • The magic Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission is very slick indeed and takes the guilt out of driving an automatic-like vehicle
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • You can hold the transmission in gear if you like which is helpful when you know the DSG is going to shift up a gear and you don't want it to
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Turning the engine on and off involves pushing in the fob-like key
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The 6 disc in-dash CD changer is a nice touch and is hooked up to a great 8 speaker system
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • You can pretty much drive the car just by flicking the great cruise control on and off
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Dual-climate control up front with automatic climate control which will chill a hot car in a hurry. Not much use for seat warmers in Brisbane though
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Carbon fibre like silver finish is slick without screaming "I cut down a forest to bring you this wood finish". Coin trays either side of the hazard light are useful
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP) Off button for extra fun on a wet road. Auto Hold is for hill starts in a car without a hand brake
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror is brilliant
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Sunglass holder failed our test and was too small for the sample sunglasses - John Lennon would probably have been happy though
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Individual reading lights up front and two in the rear as well
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • View of the passenger dash - lots of hard plastics but the finish is high
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Centre console has slide lid
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Key fob has remote lock/unlock and remote boot release. Note lack of traditional cut key appearance
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Hidden inside the key fob is an electronic-free, plastic key for all the Aussie surfers. It wont turn the car on, but the plastic key will let you in and protects the $500 key fob from surf damage
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The centre console lid slides back to reveal a storage area with two retractable drink holders
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • More of the dash
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Automatic rain sensor works as advertised and makes wet weather driving just that little bit easier
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Glove box has dedicated location for the manual, just pull that orange tab
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The Passat manual and its home - weeks of reading for those so inclined
  • This rotating knob will let airconditioned air into the glove box to keep your beers chilled, or not as you desire
  • Good visibility for the driver
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Rear passengers all have headrests and three point seat belts
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Rear seat fold-down arm rest
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Split folding rear seat backrest (60/40), lockable load through provision for your skis
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Rear arm rest has a small amount of storage - about enough for a CD case
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • More impressive than the limited storage in the rear arm rest is the cool pop-out drinks holders
  • Rear passengers get good-sized vents and a second 12 volt socket
  • On the road the steering is very light
  • Don't worry, driving on the left side of the road is perfectly safe in Australia
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Our first look inside, this car has the optional leather pack
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Looking good on the road.
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • The instrumentation lights up like a christmas tree in the dark
  • You get around 1000km / 620 miles on a tank
  • At night everything is sooo pretty
  • Left steering wheel mounted buttons - the phone and star buttons are not enabled in Australia. Boo!
  • Instruments when the engine is on. Its very cool to watch the DSG transmission change up and down the gears on the tachometer
  • Everything glows either red or blue
  • Menu system for setting preferences, time, etc. works well
  • Park brake enabled via a push button
  • Image Credit: Dane Muldoon
  • Turning it off in the dark shouldn't pose a problem
  • Now this is a good idea - past the vertical dotted line on the right wing mirror, the mirror distorts to give you a better view of your blind spot

The steering wheel is attractive and comfortable with yet another shiny, silver VW logo in the middle. Seriously, you're not likely to forget what you're make of car you're driving! Unfortunately VW cut costs by not reversing the steering wheel stalk controls for this right hand drive model which is pet niggle of mine. This means that your muscle memory is likely to have your hand turning on the windscreen wipers the first few times you go to indicate before your brain figures it out. How ironic, because the Passat is fitted with a fantastic automatic windscreen wiper system that means you don't ever have to manually engage the windscreen wipers from the stalk.



Another hang-over from its European heritage is the phone button on the steering wheel which is supposed to allow bluetooth hands-free communication with your suitably equipped mobile phone. The button is completely inert in Australia and will react with nothing down here. Wheel-mounted buttons for navigating the car's menu system and changing speaker volume are fully functional and work well however.

The switches and materials in the car feel solid and reliable although the swath of hard plastics across the dash does detract a little from the European luxury pretensions of the car. Two-tone, carbon fibre-esque highlights and the chrome around the transmission gate prove to be more successful in setting the mood. The instrumentation panel is clear and useful, giving variously the fuel range, fuel economy, current gear, outside air temperature, date, time, current cruise control speed, etc. Lit up in red and blue at night, the instruments, as well as the radio controls and all the switches, look fantastic and make you feel like you're driving a really fancy car.



Other interior features of note before we tackle the Passat's on-road performance are the great 6 CD in-dash changer stereo which pumps out your tunes via 8 speakers front and rear; the brilliant auto-dimming rear view mirror; the funky, pop-out cup holders hidden in the rear, centre armrest; the chillable glove box; and my personal favourite, the umbrella holder with drainage hidden inside the driver's door. Unfortunately it's a case of BYOU - bring your own umbrella - because an appropriately sized, VW badged umbrella is not available in Australia, even as an option. Luckily this afforded my mother a great opportunity to get my father a Passat-sized umbrella for Christmas and now everyone is happy.



The Passat's commitment to safety is outstanding. Every safety feature on offer is provided as standard equipment on all Passat models. The full gamut of modern acronyms is present including Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP), ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-Pressure Distribution (EBD) and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) which combine to make sure you have every chance of avoiding an accident in the first place. And if you are unlucky enough to be in an accident, there is a total of eight airbags to protect you inside the modern passenger safety cell - driver and passenger front and side airbags, rear seat passenger side airbags and full length curtain airbags. Add in pedestrian protective zones at the front and rear bumpers, and a tire pressure warning system, and you have a car that rated 5 star for safety by the European New Car Assessment Programme.

On the road the Passat is an enjoyable drive. With 0-100 km/h / 0-62 mph times of 9.8 seconds, it's not likely to drag anyone off a standing start at a green light, but that's only telling half the story. Because what the oil burner lacks in power, (103 kW / 138 hp) it more than makes up for in torque (320 Nm / 236 ft-lbs). This means that the TDI not only gets outstanding fuel economy out on the highway, but right through the key overtaking range of 80-120 km/h / 50-75 mph, it overtakes in a rush. Even while driving up a reasonable gradient doing 100 km/h with the engine ticking over at 1,500 revs in sixth, there is torque on tap to blow past other cars without the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) even needing to switch down if you bury your foot.



Driving a DSG 'Dub is an interesting experience. It isn't always perfect; there is a steep hill directly outside of my father's driveway that the over-eager DSG will have already changed into second for that throws it. So not perfect, but damn close. And for times like this hill when you know the problem the transmission is going to get itself into, you can always shift it briefly into manual mode, overcome the obstacle, and then back into "automatic" again for the commute. As efficient as a manual, as convenient as an automatic, and faster than a human, DSG transmissions are pretty cool. I don't doubt VW's claim of 3-4 milliseconds for each gear change either, watching the tacho spring from one acute angle to another almost instantaneously is proof enough to me that two clutches are better than one.

Australia is not known for its great road quality - there's just too few tax payers and too many roads to cover our large country to expect anything more. The Passat does a good job of soaking up the lumps and bumps, offering a comfortable ride while still maintaining touch with the road to give plenty of feedback to the driver. Despite the diesel under the hood, engine noise is negligible except at very low speeds. Unfortunately it is at high speeds that I found road noise a bit high and wearisome on the plentiful course-chip bitumen surfaces.



A situation where the 'Dub really pulls its weight is cornering, it's like the thing's on rails. Negligible body roll combined with fast, light and accurate steering combine to encourage the driver to throw it around and enjoy the results. Pick your entrance angle, keep the throttle flat and hang on! Windy roads, especially through mountainous country, suddenly become a real driving challenge to look forward to. On standard flat, straight highways though, just flick on the very well thought out cruise control and sit back and relax as you glide past other, less-efficient vehicles.

In practise, fuel economy has been pretty much spot on with the advertised combined city / highway figure of 6.6 L per 100 km / 35.6 mpg. A full tank yields a range of around 950-980 km / 590-609 miles, even when driven quite aggressively around the city and always at the highest legal speeds on the highway. On long highway legs, I've seen the current fuel economy drop to 5.5 L per 100 km which is outstanding for a vehicle this size. To put that into perspective, Toyota's top selling Camry has an official fuel economy rating of 9.9 L per 100 km for the automatic, and GM Holden's new foray into the competitive medium sized car market, the Epica, has an official fuel economy rating of 9.3 L per 100 km. Manual variants of both the Camry and the Epica have fuel economy around 8.5 L per 100 km.

Traditionally diesel is more expensive than petrol in Australia but its price tends to fluctuate less. With the recent rises in petrol prices, diesel is virtually the cheapest fuel option going excluding liquid petroleum gas. Currently regular unleaded is around AUD$1.09 per litre; premium unleaded, which is required in the Passat's petrol models, is AUD$1.17 per litre; and diesel is AUD$1.10 per litre (US$3.30 per gallon). The end result of the natural economy of a diesel engine combined with the increase to petrol prices over the last twelve months has meant that my father is very pleased to have seen his fuel bill drop considerably.

Analysis: Overall the 2007 Volkswagen Passat TDI is a really nice, medium-sized car offering excellent fuel economy, a comprehensive safety package, a wide range of thoughtful features and great driving dynamics, all rolled up in a classy European package. Only a couple of slight missteps mar this vehicle, but overall it's a lot of fun and highly recommended.

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own — we do not accept sponsored editorial.


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