By AZLAN RAMLI
EUROPEAN or “continental” cars, especially the German saloons, have always been highly-desired in Malaysia. To many Malaysians, they are considered as an “upgrade”, especially after years of motoring in Malaysian, Japanese and Korean cars.
Owning a saloon made by a brand from the country where the first (modern) car was put together and patented, followed by many German carmakers churning out machines renowned for their top-notch engineering and performance, is a mark of success; its owner as one who is reaping the fruits of his/her labour.
There is a small problem, though – there are just too many of those German cars on our roads now and worse, more and more of them have that “Oi, look at me!” designs. Not everyone likes that look.
Those who are in the market for German (and other European cars) are secure enough and just happy to enjoy their drives without the need for envious glances and recognition.
The range of Volkswagens sold in Malaysia now may look understated in their designs, but dull and plain they are not. They can still attract attention without screaming for it, thanks to their elegant and tastefully-penned curves, angles, bulges, kinks and creases, all combining to create very stylishly-looking cars without being too extreme, at least to my eyes.
The Passat is one of those Volkswagens. The Wolfsburg-based carmaker says the Passat “has always mirrored the course of technological progress at Volkswagen and till today continues to set the standards in the saloon segment in terms of technology and quality”.
It gets better – pairing the Passat with the R-Line heritage. Volkswagen’s R-Line variants are inspired by the brand’s “R” performance range. The R-Line range of Volkswagens has sporty styling package fitted onto them, giving them an “extra edge” and an overall sportier look, while maintaining great value.
The Passat R-Line carries a more commanding stance, thanks to an aggressive new front bumper, complete with R-Line badge on its grille.
Other distinguishing R-Line trims are visible on the new rear bumpers, the side R-Line badges and chrome trim along the side of the vehicle.
Adding character to its rugged profile are new 19-inch Verona alloy wheels.
As for lighting, the Passat R-Line’s all-LED headlamp system, front and rear sequential turn signals and a three-wing tail lamp design complete the overall look.
There are new finishes and materials, including new Dark Diamond Flag decorative trim and black headliner for a more premium finish.
The R-Line identity is visible on the seats, leather multi-function steering wheel, complete with shift paddles and ergonomic multifunction buttons, aluminium sports pedals and aluminium front and rear scuff plates.
There are ErgoComfort electric seats in Nappa carbon-style black leather seats for optimum comfort.
The driver’s seat is also equipped with memory and massage function.
Complementing the interior aesthetics is the ambient lighting function, which allows the driver to select from 30 colours.
The ambient lighting’s colour highlights are also reflected in the infotainment system and digital cockpit.
An 11.7-inch digital cockpit with high-resolution colour display give you a feeling of a big, premium smartphone in front of you. At your fingertips is a six-view customisable screen with over 30 combination options, including 2D and 3D navigation. Infotainment is accessible via the Discover Pro system with 9.2-inch touchscreen.
Navigation through the system is convenient with voice control, gesture control and customisable three-view split screen.
App-Connect is available through Android Auto, Mirrorlink using a Type C USB provided with the car and wireless connection for Apple Car Play.
The car is packed with premium safety features, including Rear Cross Traffic Alert with 180-degree detection range of up to 50 metres and Side Assist which helps detect objects in blind spot areas of up to 70 metres with 110-degree detection range while the vehicle is in motion.
There is also the Electronic Differential Lock (XDS) system to improve traction and reduce understeer, tyre pressure monitoring system, “manoeuvre braking” that automatically applies brakes to prevent collision when it senses an object at speeds of up to 10km/h, electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock braking system (ABS) and brake assist (BA), intelligent crash response system (ICRS), hill-hold control, automatic post-collision braking system and proactive passenger protection system.
The Passat R-Line has an impressive 586 litres of boot space and a contactless Easy Open function that uses sensors in the rear, to electronically open the boot by detecting a specific movement of the driver’s foot beneath the centre of the rear bumper.
In the Passat R-Line’s very cavernous boot is a Helix 300W “soundbar” worth RM2,400; a Volkswagen-approved accessory is manufactured by German hi-fi audio specialist Helix.
The soundbar is a five-channel amplifier with an integrated sound processor and subwoofer. That amplifier elevates the vehicle’s already-advanced sound system to a higher level of quality and clarity, with precise calibration of sound profiles.
The drive, of course, has the typical German car-feel, as I experienced on two occasions recently, thanks to Volskwagen Passenger Cars Malaysia – super-stable, cosseted and confident.
One of the reasons of such a feeling is the Passat R-Line’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) and a driving mode selection that allowed me to customise and select up to 15 driving style preferences.
The easy way is to simply choose from one of three available modes, Sport, Comfort or Normal.
With the Driving Mode Selection (DMS), drivers can select their driving preferences, from Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual, which allows further driving customisation.
Under the bonnet is a new 2.0TSI turbocharged engine, paired with a new and improved seven-speed wet clutch direct shift gearbox (DSG).
Together, they produce a maximum 187.4hp output and 320Nm of torque, both of which are more than sufficient to easily and nicely blast along Malaysian roads, even will full load.
Assembled at VPCM’s Pekan plant in Pahang, the Passat R-Line is offered in six colours; the metallic colours are Aquamarine Blue, Tamarind Brown, Manganese Grey and Reflex Silver.
Two pearl-effect colours are also available at no additional charge, Deep Black and Oryx White, like the one in these photos here.
With the current sales tax break until June 30, the new Passat R-Line’s recommended retail price is RM203,411.18 .
It comes with three years of free maintenance, five years of unlimited mileage warranty and five years roadside assistance.