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An automotive aficionado reveals why the Volkswagen Passat is an ideal replacement for his hot hatch as he becomes a family man.

23 Nov 2017


It's a name I've always wanted to give to my daughter if and when I have one. But being young, free and hot for hot hatches, I thought it was germane that the name Scarlett went first to my car, a Tornado Red three-door Volkswagen Golf GTI.

I've always been picky and given the best to Scarlett, which is why I also expect nothing but the best from my next car
We were inseparable, an automotive story of Bonnie and Clyde. My nights were spent taking Scarlett on spirited, 'live while you're young' runs, while on weekend afternoons, my little red riding hood brought me to idyllic cafes for a warm cuppa.

We committed ourselves to each other. I took the best care of Scarlett, dressing her up in premium, original stuff and taking her for spa treatments (sometimes a little too much). In return, Scarlett would provide me with the exhilarating driving experience that only a lightweight, turbocharged European hot hatch could.

More importantly, it was during my time with Scarlett that I met my wife. Although she didn't share the same passion I did for Scarlett, she always understood that my love for her had to be shared and as time went on, I pictured a future for us together. A home to call my own, a beautiful wife and Scarlett - what else could a man ask for?

While I've had a ton of fun, the slight inconvenience of Scarlett's three-door layout wasn't ideal for my growing family
But as we all know, life surprises you in many ways you don't expect it to. And like many friends before me, my love soon had to be shared three-way when a little one was on her way to join the family.

At the same time, as my parents got older, my once do-it-all, do-it-good three-door Scarlett started becoming something that wasn't as ideal anymore. I had to start thinking like a family man, but I didn't want to settle for something that I wouldn't enjoy driving. After all, the next car buying decision I made had to be one I could live with for the next 10 years.

At first, the obvious choice was to upgrade to a newer, five-door version of the Golf GTI but Volkswagen had another solution that could satisfy my need for power, good looks as well as my family's needs for more space, comfort and safety.

Can't Passat on this

Stylish, reasonably powerful and generous on features, the Volkswagen Passat proves to be a good successor to Scarlett and an ideal car for the growing family
When the new eighth generation Volkswagen Passat was launched, the stark improvements made by the German marque to its executive/family sedan meant that it moved away from the likes of the Ford Mondeo, the Opel Insignia and the Peugeot 508. Instead, it got closer to premium offerings such as the Audi A4, the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Having tested the Passat R-Line myself, I was immediately won over.

Driving the front wheels of the Passat is a 2.0-litre TSI motor that makes 217bhp and 350Nm of torque, married to a crisp and creamy six-speed dual-clutch transmission, better known as DSG. It's a punchy engine that many will be familiar with, made famous by the Golf GTI for being a sweet unit that delivers sufficient amounts of power and torque to keep me ahead in traffic.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual for the gearbox, which feels typically decisive during hard, aggressive driving, and well-behaved in moments of stop-start city crawling. Undoubtedly, it'll tick my power-craving boxes for a fleet-footed sedan, and it'll help get the wife to work on time.

The Passat's well-built interior is minimalistic and modern, and houses an infotainment system that's easy to use
Power aside, I'm also extremely fussy about cabin design and quality. In this respect, the materials used in the Passat - and the ways in which they're assembled - set the Volkswagen apart from its rivals and stand closer in comparison with the aforementioned premium offerings.

It's a minimalistic and modern design that'll appease even the fussiest of buyers, like yours truly. In my case, I have to ensure my little one is comfortable and secured at all times. Thankfully, the standard ISOFIX feature allows a child seat to be securely anchored on the car without the need for a seatbelt, a worthwhile feature to consider when purchasing a new car.

Another feature that's certainly worth the consideration is the copious amounts of room the Passat offers. Although this Passat is 2mm shorter than the previous model, a longer wheelbase means head and legroom have grown by 33mm, which is obviously better felt in the rear where my kid and parents will mostly spend their time in.

Adults will ride in comfort in the back of the Passat, while parents can be rest assured that their infants are safely seated
With the Passat, the driver and front passenger aren't forgotten, either. Both of us will be able to enjoy the comfortable, back-friendly ergoComfort seats, which provide a vast array of adjustment options, allowing for an ergonomically supported seating position.

More relevantly for my family and I, the deep and long boot is decently proportioned and its capacity has increased by 21 litres over its predecessor to an outstanding 586 litres. Flip down the rear seats and the space will increase to a generous 1,152 litres. That's more than enough for a short family vacation up North!

As I involved my family in the decision-making process, not only are they thoroughly satisfied with how the Passat rides on the road, providing comfort even over badly-paved tarmac, they are also sold on the safety features the car is equipped with. As standard, the Passat has a fatigue detection system that's based on the driver's steering pattern. After a long drive, should my steering inputs deviate from the norm, a warning signal will sound. At the same time, a message will appear in the instrument cluster recommending a break.

Nothing offers a happy life like having a happy wife, which in my case, was helped with the decision on the Passat
It also has a multi-collision brake system, which can limit the damage during a rear-end collision. The system can detect an accident and respond faster than the driver could. Within system limits, it initiates braking in order to prevent the vehicle from getting involved in further collisions. The driver can intervene and regain control of the car at any time.

These systems will certainly give the wife and parents extra assurance and the final nod on the purchase.

When it comes to committing to a big-ticket item like a car, sometimes you've just got to make certain compromises, although not a big one in my case. In doing so, you'll find greener pastures, as well as a fuller life, made possible with a happy wife.

Dear Scarlett, we've had a great run, but it's time I moved on.
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