Volkswagen Passat: Hurry up and W8

I guess I should have seen it coming. No sooner had the Land Rover arrived and my thoughts began turning to the next car to join the stable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted with the current line up. The Box of Frogs is fast becoming an invaluable tool for the daily trip to the office and I’m gelling with it to the point that I can’t ever see myself parting with it. It is so small it will probably end up taking up one of the spare rooms. Then there’s the uber Audi, which is now looking forward to a period of semi-retirement and some much needed pampering. Cosmetically and mechanically she needs a light makeover and I’ll probably end up spending more than the car’s actually worth. But that’s what being a petrolhead is being about – rationalism doesn’t come into it. Finally then, the Landie, which is already becoming an essential part of family life. Every family should have one.

So what’s next? Well I’m not adverse to spending a little time searching the classifieds for inspiration. I’ve been likened to an ‘automotive tart’, switching affections between one car and another. Recent temptations have included a BMW B11 Alpina, various Citroens, numerous Audis and the perennial favourite – some kind of Porsche. Indeed, the 968 Club Sport is tantalisingly close to the forefront and I could easily be swayed should the right one come up. But I’m pretty sure I already know what my next car will be and it is isn’t exactly an obvious or rational choice.

I’m speaking about the previous generation Volkswagen Passat. But bear with me on this because I’m talking about the W8. When launched in 2002, the car would have set you back some £35,000 with some option boxes ticked and believe me, that was a whole lot of cash for a Passat back then. But here’s the thing. Today they can picked up for as little as £4,000 and I happen to think that at that price it represents tremendous value for money. Just look at what you get. A 4.0 litre engine mated to the 4Motion all wheel drive system. 271 bhp and a top speed limited to 155 mph. Plus all the toys you’d expect, including Xenons, leather seats, 17″ alloys and everything you’d get on the Highline models. Think of it as a fun size Phaeton. Which is precisely what Volkswagen wanted you to think in 2002, for this was their way of warming the market up for an uber expensive Volkswagen. The Passat W8 was the trailblazer.

Volkswagen VW Passat W8
Hey W8 a minute Mr Postman

Before you say anything, I know that the Passat W8 is somewhat flawed. A 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, whilst swift, isn’t exactly scorching. Then there’s the inevitable thirst for V-Power, with a claimed 21 mpg combined figure dropping to almost single figures if pushed hard. Ouch! All of this is due to the massive weight. At nearly two tonnes it makes the average aircraft carrier seem positively lightweight. And then there’s the styling. With the exception of the quad exhausts and discreet W8 badges on the grille and bootlid, there’s not much to tell the outside world that you’re driving a mini-Phaeton and cousin of the Bugatti Veyron. And come on, if you’re getting 10 mpg, you want to earn some kudos points in the process.

OK, so you’re going to say it anyway – “don’t do it”, “try this instead”, “go for the Porsche”. But in true immature style, I’m putting my fingers in my ears and shouting “la, la, la, I can’t hear you”.

I have a strange thing for the previous generation Passat as it is. For a year I ran a 2002 V6 TDi and clocked up a massive 40k miles in the process. It was simply flawless. Being an ex-demo it had more toys than you could shake a vuvuzela at and on my 220 mile round trip commute to the office, it performed brilliantly. Bullet proof reliability, a surprisingly peachy V6 diesel engine and an ability to get me home in some frankly appalling weather conditions. Thanks for the memories.

Volkwagen VW Passat W8 Estate
W8ing for a star to fall

So I’ll be hunting down a W8. Ideally it needs to be the practical estate version as this will maximise the usefulness of the thing and give me a greater chance of getting the purchase approved by Mrs MajorGav. Or I’ll simply purchase some TDi badges off eBay and enter in to some kind of reverse badge snobbery. Only the hardened car nuts would probably catch on and there aren’t many of those around these parts. Financially it makes more sense than you think too. For the price of a deposit on a new car, you can buy a W8 outright and instead of losing money on depreciation, you can spend it on fuel and frankly, there are genuinely very few new cars that float my boat right now.

Now where did I put that review of the Porsche 968 Club Sport?

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Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.


  1. July 1, 2010

    I know for many this is going to seem absolutely as mad as a badger, but I am seriously considering trading my RS4 Avant for one of these, I’m already doing 18mpg and it’ll only cost one years depreceation, plus I could use the change to buy all sorts of 2 seated gems. The main fear for me maintenance? Spending £2k on a clutch is a lot easier to stomach if your car is worth £30k

    • July 1, 2010

      Interesting points! Trading in an RS4 for a W8 would certainly raise a few eyebrows, but then I guess you’d have the last laugh when you have a stable of two-seat wonders parked up outside your house. The point about the clutch costing pretty much half the value of the car is a sobering thought though. Let me know what decision you come to. By the way, I’m fully expecting a W8 Petrolthread design should you take the plunge!

  2. July 1, 2010
    vw passat « Эхо блогосферы

    […] MajorGav пишет: I’m speaking about the previous generation Volkswagen Passat. But bear with me on this because I’m talking about the W8. When launched in 2002, the car would have set you back some £35000 with some option boxes ticked and believe me, … […]

  3. March 16, 2011

    I never expected a W8 Passat to be on the list. How about this for another option. Get another TDi, remap, suspension etc? It wouldn’t be a problem to get even a 1.9PD over 200bhp, and you would have torque in skiploads. And Mrs MajorGav wouldn’t cringe at the fuel consumption.

    I agree that VW didn’t exactly make the W8 look distinctive though. I guess if you are going down that road, you don’t necessarily want a Q-car. You want the W8 to shout at everything around it: “I’M GOING TO CHEW YOU UP, SPIT YOU OUT, AND THEN DO 4WD DONUTS OVER YOUR REMAINS WHILE EATING FOUR HOB-NOBS AT ONCE!!!”

    OK I’ll stop now

    • March 16, 2011

      Ha! Good thoughts! Diesel isn’t going to do it for me though. First there’s the sound, then the smoke, then the smell. Plus what about the four wheel drive?!

      Good call on the Hobnobs though – where’s the biscuit tin! 😉

      • March 19, 2011
        Chris Claydon

        But the sound, smell and lack of four wheel drive would be wiped out of your mind by the perfect compromise: torque is spades, and a fuel consumption NOT into single figures! (And that means more money for HobNobs)

        • March 19, 2011

          Perhaps. But this is PETROLBlog don’t forget! ;-P

    • October 2, 2015

      We own a W8, maxed up to the hilt, spoiler, solar sun roof all the extras great car and if himself decides to sell it we are divorved, tiptronic, sat nav, ricaro leather heated seats, 6 cd player need I go on, can’t find another like it and proud to have a one off xx x x x
      my mate can stuff his lambo where the sun don’t shine x x

  4. June 9, 2013
    alan brown

    I recently ventured into the world of the W8………with only 162 ever sold in the uk it is a rare rate beast……………one that I am sure is only going to appreciate

    • June 10, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Lucky man!

      Have you got a saloon or wagon? Also, manual or auto?

      Be very interested to hear/read how you get on…


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