Pros: Sweet engine and transmission. Safest car for the money. Looks good.
Cons: Minor but persistent and very annoying quality and reliability issues.
I am a safety freak. I have two small children and my greatest fear is having something happen to one of them on the road. Road trauma is the single biggest cause of death among kids aged 1-17.
So when the time came to buy a car I did my homework. I would rather have a high-speed head on in a Saab 9-5 than any other car. Unfortunately we couldn't afford one. Based on the data I could find on crash test and real-life crash safety performance Passat was the safest car for our money.
I'm also a quality freak. I like cars that drive smoothly and quietly and don't have to spend time in the workshop. I naively assumed that an almost new (7,000 km) German car would be quality ++
Well, in most respects I guess it is. The engine, transmission, chassis, steering, stereo, seats, etc are all top notch.
What lets it down are the rattles. And the cabin is so quiet you get to hear them all. There's a rusty-bedspring type creak in the dashboard which is set off by the tiniest undulation in the road. Both B-pillars intermittently rattle somewhere in behind the seatbelt height adjuster (and right by the driver and front passenger's ears!!). The door panels buzz from time to time. There's a buzz somewhere near the stereo that I haven't been able to pinpoint. And a rattle in one of the headrests. Worst of all there is an exhaust rattle between about 2000-2200 RPM (ie most of the time in city driving). The VW service center has been unable to fix ANY of these problems despite more than ten warranty visits to their workshop.
The cacophany is so annoying that every time I take it for a drive I end up talking about trading it in for something else. The problem is, nothing else in the price bracket offers anywhere NEAR the safety record of the Passat. So we put up with it.
Note: Price shown in New Zealand dollars.