Let’s say you want the unique thrum and smooth linear power of VW’s VR6, but you didn’t need all the features of the SEL Premium. Let’s say you wanted the good looks of the R-Line, but weren’t happy with just 174hp. Volkwagen engineers at the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant understand your plight and have developed a new model in the Passat line for 2018. Enter the Passat GT, a trim that combines the best of both worlds and yet still doesn’t quite deliver to its fullest potential. But that might be more our problem than the car’s.
Volkwagens 3.6L V6 produces a spirited 280hp and 258lb-ft torque. That’s a solid number, but still less than the Fusion Sport and Camry XSE V6. But the power in the Passat feels more readily available thanks to the 6-speed dual-clutch transmission’s quick shifts. Power is buttery smooth and the sweet V6 makes a wonderful noise through the GT’s custom-tuned exhaust. Since the GT gives you all the engine you want without the technology and features of the top-trim SEL Premium, it makes it the best bang for your buck. VW even managed to add LED lighting, sunroof, heated seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and blind-sport monitoring. There isn’t a cheaper way to get V6 power in this segment, and that’s a pretty great selling point if you ask us.
The Passat GT’s sporty appearance comes from several places. First, it share’s its front and rear bumpers with the attractive R-Line. Blacked out grilles, mirrors, lip spoiler, roof, and body trim offer a totally unique and almost customized look. A sport-tuned suspension that sits the car a half-inch lower change the whole stance of the car as it sits on 19-inch “Tornado” wheels. This generation Passat has never looked so good. Inside, two-toned seats and carbon-fiber trim set the GT apart. Just don’t let the GTI-inspired red accent line and red brake calipers fool you. The Passat GT is not what the GTI is to the Golf.
Blindfold us behind the wheel (Editor’s note: please don’t.) and we could tell you this was a Volkwagen before we crashed at the first turn. But for all the sporty trappings, the GT is not a performance vehicle. The steering is light and soulless, a product of VW’s Toyota-chasing aspirations back when this generation Passat was new in 2011. That wouldn’t be so disheartening if the touring all-season tires didn’t give up so easily. With a bit more mechanical grip, a simple swap to performance summer tires would do, this sporty-looking sedan could actually be truly sporty. There’s plenty of punch, excellent body control, and decent braking.
If you’re willing for forgive the Passat its aging platform, the GT provides almost everything an enthusiast asks for without the premium price. Yes, the infotainment screen is small in this day and age and the 6-speed DSG isn’t a spring chicken, either. And Volkwagen acknowledges the GT trim is more of an appearance package, so its our own fault for thinking we’d find a new favorite mid-size sport sedan. But the V6 under hood does have a strong enthusiast history in performance VW’s. The Passat GT almost delivers on more than it promises.
|2018 Volkswagen Passat GT
|As Tested MSRP||$29,995|