2003 VW Passat W8 (475)


This week I had the opportunity to drive Jenny’s dream car of the week, VW Passat W8 Sedan. Jen is my daughter and she’s been looking at it because it has the BMW look. So why not buy a BMW? No, I take that back Jen, don’t listen to me… what am I saying, she doesn’t listen to me anyway.

BMW has historically been a product that is expensive to repair and maintain. Yes, things are changing and that has more to do with today’s technology that allows for longer intervals between tune-ups and better brake components.

Ok, so I like the Passat but it is expensive. When I’m spending my money it is expensive, when I’m spending someone else’s money, it isn’t all that bad. The boss blows money like it comes easily, so why should I worry about saving it? Right? Am I right? Isn’t that the way it works? Would you go to dinner and buy a $100 bottle of wine like the boss, or would you buy two buck Chuck?

Enough already… people will buy what moves them at the moment. We’re impulsive creatures who demand instant gratification in general. So, damn the torpedo’s, full speed ahead. And at the end of the day that is what makes the economy so vibrant. Jen – Buy the Passat if you want it. Or wait for your birthday and Marc will buy it for you. If you wait for me, you’ll be walking. If that doesn’t sound like most parents I’ll eat my keyboard.

General Info:

Parts – U.S./Canadian 1%, Germany 75% – Eng. & Trans – Germany.

Assembly – Mosel, Germany

Class:  – Compact Cars

Cars: – EuroVan, Golf, GTI, Jetta and wagon, New Beetle, Passat and wagon, Phaeton and     Touareg.

Handling & Performance:

Fasssssssssssssst. Well maybe it should Fassst. The W8 makes a big difference Jen tells me. She went to the dealer and test-drove the V6. Then when I stopped by with the W8 it was fresh on her mind that this was more like it. “Dad, I want to get into auto racing. Can you help me?” No, Jen. Can’t you slow down, breathe through your nose? Have more kids or something. Forget about fast cars. Next thing you know, you’ll want to go dancing.


There has been a nice progression in this model. It has matured and moved up in class. Nice job VW. It reminds me of Chrysler and Nissan more recently. It’s like they got a blood transfusion and have new life.

Fit and Finish:

Generally German quality is excellent and this is no exception. VW must have made a lot of money on those cheap ass cars over the years and now they’re getting a little snooty by appealing to the higher end buyer. Us common folks aren’t good enough any longer, eh? Eh, is Canadian for “isn’t that right”?


A lot of them and you’ll pay dearly for them.


More than I expected. Why don’t they ease into price hikes? Give us a break. On the flip side however it does have “Real” wood trim (as if there were another kind of wood). Still too much money.

Consumer Recommendation:

Unless you have a burning desire for speed, go for the V6 and drop unnecessary features to cut the cost. Model Range includes the GL, GLS, GLX and W8. Sunroof, leather can be dropped but don’t drop the ESP. The GLS will also allow you to have the AWD (4-Motion). In any case, somewhere between the GL and the W8 you can build your own and eliminate the non-essentials for a price that fits your budget. What you will get without all the frills is a German engineered car built for the Autobahn’s of Germany. Ok, so you’ll have to travel to a no speed limit state to truly enjoy the capability.

The Competition:

VW Passat $22-39,000, Saab 9-5 $34-39,000, Dodge Intrepid $21-25,000, Chrysler 300M $29-33,000, Nissan Maxima $27-29,000, Volvo S60 $27-37,000, Chevrolet Impala $21-27,000, Buick Regal $24-29,000, Ford Taurus $20-23,000, Toyota Camry $19-25,000, Subaru Legacy $20-25,000, Honda Accord $16-29,000.

Good News:

German engineering, high quality construction and features like real wood trim, fast and AWD fun to drive.

Bad News:

Pricey with all the features standard on the W8. So-so mileage.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter 270 horsepower V8 engine, 6-speed manual trans, all wheel drive (they call it 4-Motion), Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), front and side airbags, side curtain protection airbag, auto leveling, fog lights, child safety locks tethers and anchors, Anti-lock brake system (ABS), theft deterrent system, climate control, cruise control, in-dash CD and cassette players, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, tilt and tele leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel, leather seating with power front adjustable seats with lumbar support, heated windshield washer nozzles, HomeLink communications system, Wood interior trim, rain sensor wipers, 17” alloy wheels, sport suspension, power glass sunroof with tilt and shade and Monsoon sound system.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG.


MSRP $39,400.

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