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AMR Week Peek: 2006 VW Passat
    By Mauro DiBendetto, Contributing Writer
    10.5.2019

The Set Up2006 VW Passat
I took delivery of a 2006 Passat GLS Sunday morning at 9am at my home, thanks to the Alpha Driver 24 hour test drive program.

The car came to me specced with 2.0T engine, moonroof, 6speed auto, standard 6 disk changer, 16" wheels, the new "standard" leatherette interior, 8,000 miles on the clock and a full tank of gas!

After a quick description of the vehicle features by the VW alphadriver ambassador I was given the keys. Ok, it's not a key, but more on that later.

It Begins
My first impression of the car was that this was a significantly bigger car than my B5. I liked the looks in person, although I felt it took visual cues from the Nissan Altima, especially on tail lights.

Inside the car I was greated with manually adjustable seats with more adjustablity than the standard B5, and a much bigger interior. The next feature I found the new auto-hold button and parking brake button, The parking brake works as a pushon-push off feature. Autohold is designed to hold you on an uphill without having to master clutch usage. To use it, you just push it and then stop the car anytime after it's eneabled. The car will remain in place. I can see how this is handy in only one situation but not many others, I also do not know what this feature is for on an automatic tranny, but there it was. Other new features that I did like - hud displayed radio information, one touch up/down windows for all 4 windows from the driver console, easy 3 blink lane change indication when you tap the signal stalk, AC in the console cubby along with the glove box, and mondo huge cupholders in the doorwells!!

The trunk on the B6 is even bigger than the 5. It comes with a full size spare and enough room adjacent to the spare for a fullsize jack (If you carve up the foam that holds the existin scissors jack). There are also shopping bag hangers in a handy place near the opening to the trunk a feature I'd welcome after having my food fly all over the trunk after a spirited drive to the supermarket.

Re-entering the vehicle I got ready for a drive by placing the key/fob into it's slot in the dashboard and pushing it in until the engine started. To shut of the engine, simply push the keyfob in again and it pops out as it shuts the engine off.

Driving Impressions
First impression - very solid. The car seemed quiet, the engine barely noticable, low speed steering seemed to be missing the understeer that I compensate for often with the B5 I regulary drive. The suspsension seemed to absorb the local bumpy roads without much fanfar or shaking overall I was initially pleased. Then I tried to drive the car the way I drive my own - hard. I put about 100 miles on the car in 24hr, most of it highway, some of it in heavy traffic.

I tried 0-60-0 runs, on ramp exit/entrances, and hard braking in general.

Overall I would say the engine is there - lots of power, at least as much as a chipped B5, with no discernable turbo lag, and better than decent torque at low rpms. I was however, unable to cause wheelspin in first gear under any conditions - something that I can do at will, with ASR enable in my chipped B5. All of this power still somehow got me 30mgh on my 27 mile morning commute and 27mpg or so on the 70miles of aggressive driving.

The suspension and braking seemed to fall far short of the B5. At speeds over 40, the car seemed want to roll the tires flat in a turn. Braking was almost a scary proposition - lots of rear end lift and no stopping power to speak of. I hope that the braking was due to glazed pads from some previous sissy drivers.

Could this car be made into a sport sedan again? I am certain of it - aggressive brake pads, some suspension tweaks, a chip bumping HP to 250 and you'd have a very nice machine.

Overall I was dissapointed with the handling and braking performance, it seemed like the entire persona of the car had changed from sporty, yet practical to pure family vehicle.

Final Review
If I was buying new, I'd have a hard time chosing this car over an Accord, but would easliy choose it over an Altima.

I wouldn't swap my 30K mile B5 for it right now, perhaps when the VR6 or the wagon comes out, my mind will change. (I'd take the wagon with this level of performance in a heartbeat, but not a sedan!) I guess I just had more expectations for the perfomance of this vehicle than VW delivered.



Recommendation:
Recommended in family sedan segment

Highs:
Engine, details, luxury for price

Lows:
Me-too styling, floaty ride, fear of quality issues

Other Words:
Preview: 2006 VW Passat
Comparo: '05 Family Wagon Roundup
VW & Audi: Redundant Brands for the US?
VW: Innovation Wanted



vitalstats

Engine:2.0L Turbo 4
3.6L V6
Transmission:5 Spd Manual
6 Spd Auto
6 Spd Manual
0-60:6.6 Sec (V6)
Horsepower:200/280 hp
Torque:207/265 lb-ft
EPA Rating:23/32 2.0T
18/27 V6
Price:23,900 2.0T
29,950 V6


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