When ELEGANCE is understood
The world's best-selling sedan gets a little more advanced, a little more refined. By Yani Fadzil
In the English language, there are some words that, when spoken out loud, are immediately and easily understood, but not so easily defined. The word "easy" is one, or "time". How do you explain that?
In my books, the word "elegance" also falls in that category - say it and you know exactly what it means. Or … for those of you who don't, let me introduce you to the Passat Elegance.
The beginnings of the Passat were far from humble - the first-generation model was designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro and it was named after the passatwinde, German trade wind. Eight generations later, the Passat is the world's best-selling mid-sized sedan with more than 30 million units roaming the roads. That says plenty for a car that has been around for almost half a century - in fact the Passat nameplate is currently the longest-lived Volkswagen nameplate, having gone on sale in Europe a year before the Golf in 1973.
Looks matter ...
From looks alone, this executive sedan doesn't shout out to be seen. Like all Volkswagen models, its design language is progressive and works to appeal to both the trend-sensitive and more traditional car buyers. Case in point, how often have you seen the 12-year old Passat CC or Scirocco and admired their timeless looks?
In Malaysia, the Elegance was the first model to incorporate the bigger, more noticeable "Passat" lettering across its rear. It comes with LED lighting galore, and a distinctive three-wing taillight design identifies it as a Passat to anyone tailing it come sunset. To the uninitiated, the darkened multi-spoke 18-inch "Liverpool" alloys is one of its most telling features.
The Passat Elegance ticks all the right boxes
Fuel economy and driving performance? Check, and check
But what's inside counts
Inside is where German sensibility marries quiet luxury. Stylish functionality trumps flair, and here is where elegance matters most, because as a driver, this is your view when you're in the car.
It also boasts more space than its rivals, with ample leg and headroom at the back, and a boot so spacious it goes on for miles.
So, a Volkswagen is built from the inside out, and the fact that everything is within the driver's reach attests to that. The sporty leather multi-function steering wheel connects you to the car with the touch of a button, and the massive Digital Cockpit staring back at you opens up a world of personalised driver settings with navigation and media functions and features in 2D and 3D graphic display.
Equally impressive is the tablet-sized 9.2-inch touchscreen hosting the Elegance's infotainment system. Navigate with Volkswagen's in-house voice control, or Google Assistant or Siri (depending on which side of the smartphone fence you're standing on). Convenience is key here, and I've had Google Assistant transcribe Whatsapp replies, call the daughter, and pull up my favourite Spotify playlist - handsfree on the road.
Easy on the eyes, easy on the mind
Plenty of techy bells and whistles are standard in the Elegance, a personal favourite is the rainbow-range of 30-colour ambient lighting - one for every day of the month, or whatever my mood calls for! Another (convenient) pick is the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, where cleverly placed sensors monitor individual tyre pressure readings. You'll know when it's time to fill up because the car won't let you forget, as was the case for me earlier today.
Where it's just right
Power is pulled from a 2.0TSI turbocharged engine - and coupled with a 7-speed wet clutch direct shift gearbox (DSG), you have a pretty satisfying output of 190PS and torque of 320Nm. That's plenty of torque for you to pull away from traffic in the city, or up the hilly delights of Karak highway. And you get all this without compromising on fuel consumption as a full tank easily gives you between 800 to 1,000(!) kilometres, depending on how much of a devil on the road you are.
But let's be clear, this is no beast. Rather, think of the Passat Elegance as the combination of a handsome butler and cruising companion. It is easy to drive and agile with precise point-and turn steering. It goes into corners confidently with enough grip to keep you snug in its leather seat. The ride is well-cushioned and refined, with that little hint of sporty, kind of like a teaser into what the more powerful Volkswagen models have to offer.
Easy on the eyes, easy on the mind. You don't step out of the Passat Elegance with adrenaline pumping or heart-skipping beats. This is a car that instils confidence, presents refinement, offers convenience, and is chock-full of little details that complement the bigger picture.
Fashion designer Giorgio Armani once said that "Elegance is not about being noticed, but about being remembered."
Pure Passat, really.