Staid styling, pricey with options, uninvolving drive
The VW Passat offered in the GCC is unique in that it's designed and built in the United States specifically for that market, and is larger as well as cheaper than the European version. It is currently offered with one 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine option mated to a 6-speed automatic. Offered in four trim levels, namely S, SE, SEL and SPORT, the 4-door sedan boasts class-leading space and respectable cabin trim. The entry-level S is designed specifically for fleet customers, and features ABS, ESP, dual front airbags, curtain and side thorax airbags, Bluetooth with voice command, multifunction steering wheel with audio and phone controls, cruise control, CD/MP3 stereo, 60/40 folding rear seat, and electronic vehicle immobilisation. The SE model includes a six-CD changer, leather steering wheel, rear a/c vents and 16-inch "San Jose" alloy wheels. In addition to the features seen on the S and SE models, the SEL has 17-inch "Sonoma" alloy wheels, leatherette seats and a high-end Fender sound system with a subwoofer in the boot. A media input with iPod cable is also standard on the SEL, as is a powered driver’s seat, front fog and cornering lamps, keyless entry, pushbutton start, a sunroof and dual-zone climatronic air conditioning with air quality sensors. The flagship SPORT model adds part-leather seats, 18-inch "Bristol" alloy wheels, touch-screen navigation system, 30GB hard disc, SD card reader and DVD drive, memory function for the driver’s seat and a powered front passenger seat. Other features include tyre-pressure sensors, insulating glass and a special acoustic film integrated into the windscreen to help keep out external noise.