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.
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.
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?