Volkswagen: 2016 Passat TSI and Bi-TDI R-line wagon review

Volkswagen: 2016 Passat TSI and Bi-TDI R-line wagon review

There is no denying the new B8 series Passat carline has moved up in size, and much like its rival the Ford Mondeo, it’s no longer a mid-size vehicle, its now a large car, with internal rear legroom that rivals traditional rear-wheel-drive cars such as the Holden Commodore.

But would a dyed-in-the-wool Commodore or Falcon buyer consider a Passat?

The answer is now yes because the market has changed as have customer needs, values, and expectations.

Passat Bi-TDI R-Line

Passat Bi-TDI R-Line

In the new order that is the New Zealand new car market, we had so much choice than ever before and perceived ‘expensive’ European cars now offer comparable value to mass market offers from Australian, Korean, and Japanese manufacturers.

The irony being that Volkswagen in its home territory of Germany is very much a mass market brand but with a reputation for quality, safety, and (ahem) environmental consciousness.

Passat Bi-TDI R-Line

Passat Bi-TDI R-Line

We have recently driven two versions of the latest Passat wagon in R-Line specification, one being the front-wheel-drive turbocharged petrol 1.8-litre TSI version retailing from $56,240, and the other being the all-wheel-drive twin-turbocharged diesel 2-litre BI-TDI 4Motion model selling from $68,990.

While quietly impressed with the power and performance (and fuel consumption) of the TSI wagon, then a few weeks later the Bi-TDI came along and blew us away completely with its

Passat Bi-TDI R-Line

Passat Bi-TDI R-Line

level of performance and spec, as it should do with a more than $12,000 price premium.

Power and performance

The Passat TSI R-Line offers 132 kilowatts of power and 250 Newton metres of torque from its turbocharged four-cylinder 1.8-litre petrol engine. Zero to 100 km/h dispatches in 8.1 seconds, and combined fuel consumption of 8.1l/100km.

It feels lithe and lean, and since the torque

Passat TSI R-Line

Passat TSI R-Line

kicks at 1250rpm, the 1.8-litre turbo never seems sluggish or out of breath.

Moving across to the Euro6 diesel fuelled Bi-TDI R-Line wagon sees 176 kilowatts of power and 500 Newton metres of torque punching out from its four-cylinder 2-litre powerhouse.

VW quotes acceleration from zero to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds and combined fuel consumption of 5.3l/100km.

I’ve complained previously about earlier

Passat TSI R-Line

Passat TSI R-Line

generation Passat diesels not being responsive to the throttle when moving off from a standstill, well the Bi-TDI overcomes any such hesitation, it offers instant power the moment your foot touches the accelerator pedal.

Both cars have a 7-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission, the TSI has electro-mechanical speed sensitive steering while the Bi-TDi has a different system being progressive hydraulic power steering.

Passat TSI R-Line

Passat TSI R-Line

Both R-line wagons come equipped with the BlueMotion technology package which includes an automatic stop/start system and regenerative brakes.


As expected of a car with a five-star ANCAP rating both R-Line wagons arrived with a rear camera, park distance control, driver fatigue detection system, forward collision warning and City Emergency Brake.

2016 Passat wagon cargo spaceBoth also offer Apple Car Play and Android Auto allowing further integration of voice activation for hands-free SMS and Bluetooth telephony. I used the factory supplied sat nav in preference to the Apple version, though.

A driver assistance package adding adaptive cruise control and speed limiter, lane change assist, lane departure warning, blind spot sensor and rear cross traffic alert is standard on the Bi-TDI R-Line wagon and a $2500 option on the TSI R-line wagon.

The R-line specification gives both of the Passat wagons a sporting flavour, with R-Line-specific 19-inch Verona Alloy wheels (including a full-size spare), and matching silver roof rails.

There’s an R-Line logo on the radiator plus R-Line style bumpers and sill extensions with a trapezoidal chrome trim panel in the rear bumper and a body-coloured R-Line rear spoiler.

Inside the theme continues with R-Line-specific Nappa leather upholstery on the front sports seats and rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, and a silver rise dash insert with a piano black centre console trim.

Additionally, the door and side panels have R-Line-specific trim.

The TSI wagon comes with Halogen headlamps while the Bi-TDI steps ups with LED headlamps that have a cornering function, separate LED daytime running lights and headlight washer system.


Much of the instrumentation and some of the finishes inside the B8 Passat are straight out of the Golf, which sits on the same VW Group MQB platform, but they are well-made and executed nicely.

The well-bolstered and hugely adjustable R-Line Nappa leather ergoComfort sports seats with heating function are very comfortable, and it’s easy enough to find a suitable position whether you are tall or short.

There are flappy paddles behind the dinky little leather covered R-Line steering wheel which allow the driver to change gear manually as the occasion demands while the parking brake is an electro-hydraulic affair.

Wagons are for hauling cargo as well as people and the Passat twins offers 650L with the rear seats in situ, but flip them down via levers in the rear and there is a whopping 1780L of space though it is a little short of the cavernous Mondeo wagon but on par with many SUV models.

One disappointing aspect that affected both R-Line wagons on the test was the lack of a power tailgate which is part of a Keyless Access locking and ignition start/stop package option for $1500. It should be standard.


Both the TSI and the Bi-TDI are pleasant day-to-day commuters, with high levels of dynamic performance and handling, especially the high-powered diesel model with its 4Motion drivetrain.

The Bi-TDI comes with the DCC adaptive chassis control which includes a driving profile selection (comfort, sport, eco, individual) but the TSI has this as an $2250 optional extra, and frankly it was fine without.

Unfortunately, both R-line wagons suffer occasionally from a brittle ride quality when driven over some of New Zealand’s less than desirable road surfaces, a result of their sports suspension setup and low profile tyres on those handsome 19-inch alloy wheels.


There’s no denying that large wagon buyers no longer need eight or six cylinders under the bonnet to give them the required power and performance of yesteryear.

Both the TSI and Bi-TDI R-Line wagons have more than enough power and torque from their modern four-cylinder engines, the deciding factor for buyers will be whether or not they need the extra kilowatts and the all-wheel-drive offered by the more expensive car tested here.

I dare say those who tow boats and the like regularly, may lean towards the Bi-TDI for its blend of performance, all-weather traction, and 2200kg tow capacity.

Whether it’s petrol or diesel – both Passat versions offered are roomy, well equipped, frugal, quiet, and responsive, which further puts a nail in the coffin of traditional large six-cylinder wagon so beloved of many Kiwis.


Passat TSI R-Line wagon $56,240
Passat Bi-TDI R-Line 4Motion wagon $68,990

We liked: Apple Car Play, punchy performance, and aggressive styling,

We disliked: Noticeable specification omissions for the price tag

Words and pictures: Robert Barry

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