Volkswagen Passat (B6) review, problems, specs
The Passat B6 was the first model to swap the platform its predecessors shared with the Audi A4 with the PQ46 architecture used by the Golf Mk 5 and therefore adopt a transverse engine layout, giving up on the longitudinal setup used up until that point. Volkswagen introduced the Passat B6 at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show while the first models hit the market later on, in the summer. Despite these changes, it remained one of the best choices in its segment, with some considering it capable of having a go at the BMW 3 Series or the Audi A4.
- good looking
- stylish interior
- 1.9 TDI variants are a safe bet
- 2.0 TDI, for more frugality and refinement
- noisy diesels
- dull to drive
Stay Away From
- ignore entry-level versions as much as you can
Known Problems & Recalls
- make sure you keep an eye on the suspension system, especially on cars with high mileage
- there are known power steering issues on some models
- a couple of recalls were operated early in the Passat B6’s life, including for risk of fire in the 2.0 TDI versions
- stay sharp for weird noises coming from the DSG transmission
This is a Volkswagen we’re talking about here, so the engine lineup is inevitably crowded. Let’s start with the diesels, as models using them are the most desirable. At launch, the VW Passat B6 was fitted a 1.9-liter TDI unit good for 105 HP, also derived into the Bluemotion variant. Next up is a more refined 2.0-liter TDI engine delivering either 140 or 170 HP, which Volkswagen replaced in 2008 with a common-rail version, available with the same power outputs as before.
As far as petrol choices are concerned, the entry-level unit was a 1.6-liter FSI engine good for 115 HP, replaced in 2007 with a downsized and turbocharged 1.4-liter FSI mill delivering 122 HP. Then there’s the 2.0-liter FSI alternative, a punchier choice thanks to its 150 HP accompanied by another 2.0-liter this time with 200 HP and of course, the gas-guzzling 250-horsepower 3.2-liter V6. A 1.8-liter TSI engine rated at 160 HP came to round up the range.
Just as the model it replaces, the Passat B6 focuses on a smooth and comfortable ride, which means its behavior on corners implies a decent amount of body roll. However, there’s plenty of grip at all times, therefore those inside will travel with the constant feeling of safety. Don’t expect too much feedback from the steering but that’s only natural as the driving experience offered by the Passat falls in the laid back side. Both the auto and manual gearboxes work like a charm, although the DSG remains our favorite, whether you’ll use the car around the city or on open roads.
In keeping its loyalty towards Volkswagen Passat standard, the B6 earned five stars overall after being put through the Euro NCAP crash-testing sessions and four stars for child occupant protection. That’s a natural result, considering the fact that every base-spec Passat B6 comes with ESP plus front, side and curtain airbags.
A paramount feature for the Passat B6 is comfort. In fact, each VW Passat generation improves the one before, and so does the B6. Road and wind noise are almost imperceptible inside the cabin, the seats offer excellent support as well as a relaxing travel environment. Those sitting on the back seat have a good amount of leg, shoulder and hip room at their disposal, but your passengers will be better of if you’ll only accommodate two adults in the back, rather than three.
As you step inside the Passat B6, the first thing that pops up is the upmarket quality offered by the cabin. Materials look and feel good, hinting at premium models - like the Audi A4, for example. Couple that with a sturdy build and you’re looking at an excellent all-rounder that looks ready to battle more high-class cars, at least in upper-spec versions where the dashboard can be had with wood or metallic trim.
Your family will love the Passat B6, mostly because of the 485-liter trunk with a lower lip for easier loading and unloading. Furthemore, storage space in the cabin is improved by the introduction of an electronic park brake, a generous glove compartment and a special umbrella storage spot in the driver’s side door compartment. Plenty of other small storage spaces complete the cabin landscape.
Not much to talk about here, but the Passat B6 does get a CD player in combo with an eight-speaker sound system, while the range-topping Highline Plus equipment level adds features like Bluetooth connectivity and a CD-based touchscreen navigation system.
We don’t think you’re necessarily keen on buying the V6 petrol version returning 28.2 mpg, so let’s focus on more frugal alternatives. The best thing money can buy is the 1.9-liter TDI which returns 47.9 mpg, but make sure you’re ready to ignore its rather noisy character. Moreover, the 2.0 TDI manages a respectable 46.3 mpg for its 140 HP version and 47.1 mpg for the 180 HP one. Then, there is the BlueMotion derivative, which can offer as much as 57 mpg for those looking for the most fuel-efficient solution available.
Entry-level versions come with a decent amount of amenities, but our advice is to look for middle-range or top-of-the-range model. However, every Passat B6 comes in standard with six airbags (front, side and curtain), electronic parking brake, electrical and heated mirrors, alloys and electric front windows. Go one step higher in the hierarchy and you get cruise control, electric rear windows as well as an armrest between the two front seats. Highline models up the ante with leather upholstery, heated front seats and bigger 17-inch rims, along with a multifunctional steering wheel. The Sport and R line trim levels are the kings of the hill and offer goodies like redesigned front and rear spoilers and tuned suspensions setting, while those in need of a sat nav system can only have it on the Highline Plus trim.
In a nutshell, the Passat remains a proposition worth looking at, as far as you are willing to get over the rather hefty price tag. However, the higher sticker will bring you frugal and potent diesel engines, a sturdy build, almost-premium amenities and a comprehensive safety package.