First drive: 2012 Volkswagen Passat in Jordan

First drive: 2012 Volkswagen Passat in Jordan

The all-new Passat is a big car for Volkswagen. And by ‘big’, we mean both importance as well as size. The larger 2012 Passat is now shipped in from their new United States factory, and we were shipped to Jordan for a test-drive as well as a mini-vacation at a Dead Sea resort.

The all-expenses-paid trip saw us taking a business-class flight to Amman, where we were transferred to a hotel lot next door and put into a fleet of 2012 VW Passat sedans. There were several variants, but they all looked largely the same. Not that the Passat is a looker anyway, but there is nothing to point at and complain either. It was designed to be inoffensive.

The real big news is the interior. VW claims their American Passat’s cabin volume is class-leading, and we aren’t going to argue. It is massive on the inside. It is at least as spacious as the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, if not more. With VW’s new cost-cutting initiative, the trim materials didn’t suffer much either. While there are now more hard plastics than the European version, it is still cushier than the Camry, with a soft-touch dash and upper door sills, as well as padded door inserts and armrests, both front and back, with lots of pockets and enough cup-holders.

We drove off towards the Kempinski Dead Sea Resort, left to fend for ourselves with an iPad map and the comfort that most road signs were in English. The way there consisted of hilly town roads, mostly free-flowing with not much traffic and few signals. The weather in the morning was on the warm side, but our a/c was coping well.

The 170 hp 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine is fairly adequate for its class. Mated to a 6-speed automatic, it never feels particularly fast, but casual driving was handled without having to rev the nuts off it all the time, even on the steeper inclines. Speed limits are a ridiculous 60 kph on most roads, rising to 90 kph at most on rural roads. Speed enforcement is unusually strict, with speed cameras spread all over the place, cops flagging you down on the road, making you pay up on the spot, and police cars waiting to chase you if you run. In fact, we actually got pulled over once for doing a little over 100 kph rolling down a hill, but we talked ourselves out of it by acting like ignorant tourists who didn’t understand what the policeman was saying.

On Jordan’s uneven roads, the ride was occasionally a little bumpy but we had nothing to complain about most of the time. Wind and road noise never reached annoying levels, but then again, we barely ever cracked 100 kph for obvious reasons.

After crossing a police checkpoint to get into the coastal area, we eventually hit some serious mountain roads, well-paved and going up and down very steeply, where we go to explore the handling limits of the Passat. The limits aren’t particularly high, but perfectly adequate. Long before the tyres get into serious squealing in turns, the stability control kicks in and slows you down. Body roll is moderate, but never floaty. But sudden steering-wheel inputs seem to induce understeer rather that swinging the tail, hinting that the car was intentionally tuned for safe handling rather than precision movements. It is very different from VW’s usual European fare.

The Passat managed the surprisingly steep slopes without much of a struggle, albeit slowly but steadily, and we were rewarded by stunning views of the Dead Sea and the troubled lands on the other side of the water. As a car, this VW doesn’t really have any obvious flaws that we could point out, considering the kind of people it is aimed at.

And that really sums up the 2012 Volkswagen Passat. It hits all the right notes to compete with the segment stalwarts, and is priced to match. The VW Jetta was the carmaker’s first attack on a mainstream segment, although we weren’t too convinced by their compact attempt, but the Passat is a much more credible entry to do battle in the midsize market.

What do you think?



  1. I think in the pic. no.10 of you driving the car that you are over the speed limt. !!
    Is that ture ??

    • Author

      Don’t know the speeds along the Dead Sea drive, but we only got pulled over closer to the city.

  2. So whch is better….camry or passat

  3. Why did they have to take cars all the way from UAE and KSA to Jordan for test?

  4. kinda looks like a enlarged version of the Jetta,
    Apart from the looks, i’m sure it’s a great great car

  5. Talking about the looks, Passat CC looks way better than this american version.

  6. i will pass at this…
    sorry couldnt help the annoying pun

  7. Thumbs up to Michael Jackson’s ..”BEAT IT” playing in the car

  8. this car was voted the MT car of the year…

  9. how come all these cars have different number-plates?
    first picture has saudi number plate, rest of them had dubai and abu dhabi numbers

  10. @Mash

    Most of the US auto web journalist (Motorweek, consumer report, Kelly’s blue book, etc etc ) seem pretty impressed with it, some rating it over the camry and accord.

    Is it so? or they are just please it is built in America?

  11. Wanted to buy this car..almost finalised the SEL model before the saleswoman told us none of the models come with parking sensors. Not even the full-option one. How can an AED 115,000 car not have parking sensors?! Had to settle for a Jetta instead since the CC was over the budget.

  12. 2013 models come with rear view camera and rear AC. Plus you could always install a parking sensor for 2k. It is value for money.

  13. Hello all,

    I am getting my 2013 Passat Sport next week inshaAllah. Well to be honest I was also a bit disappointed when I came to know Passat does not come with parking sensors, but since I am aware that VW’s marketing strategy is to target Camry and Accord…. which i think is starting to happen! For the first time people are reconsidering Camry and Accord for a Passat!!

    I mean there is nothing bad about passat, no flaws at all.. it gives excellent mileage for a 5 cylinder, it is enormous from the inside! It is a beauty from the outside! Typical German looks! I was told that there is a possibility to install Jetta’s parking sensors on Passat and it will work as it works in Jetta. With total estimation from AED 1500 to 2000 I think its a fair deal. Ditching passat for not having parking sensors isn’t a wise decision! Because it already has a premium feature of rear view camera!

    Although I must say here that the Passat manufactured in Chattanooga has a less premium features compared to the Passat manufactured by Shanghai Volkswagen (China) I mean the chinese version has the LED DRL with bi-Xenon headlamps along with full LED tail lights just like its German Passat CC version or the Touareg. Plus it has rear AC switches with a wood trim! Rear legroom lights, auto-handbrake button (like the one in Tiguan and Touareg)plus with a auto-park function!! And a good premium wood trim on steering wheel! And last but not the lease shiny alloys wheels 18″ that is… beautiful multispoke alloy rings. I just wish the Chinese spec Passat was available here in UAE. But nevertheless US Passat is even far better in safety features, comfort level, built quality, and standard … VW is a class of its own… its a statement!

    The NMS Passat is a success already, who ever comes to see it ends up buying it because its simply a pure German premium sedan at the price of Japanese sedans out there in the market with far better safety systems and fuel consumption!!!

    I have just now inquired with Al Naboodah Automobiles that very soon they will bring out parking sensor units to be fitted on demand for the Passat owners between the price range of 1500 to 2500 all inclusive. It will be fitted by choice of front only or front and rear or rear only depending upon the owner’s wish. The sensor indication will also be shown on the screen for the front sensors but only acoustic sound alert for the rear because the camera is already functional on the screen!

    Its time people should at least once rely on the German marque and seriously consider the Passat as this car is literally better than its Japanese or American rivals at the moment!! I chose Passat after doing a thorough research on all the cars of this class!!

  14. The gear box of the VW need to be replace after 100,000KM and that is a common problem for all VW cars.

  15. Hey just wanted to know about if the station wagon version of the Passat is available here and what would the cost be at?

  16. Hi, I’m from the future. I bought a full option 2013 Passat with 59,000km on the clock. I enjoy driving it, it’s just VW quoted me 3,100 for the 60k service (oil, engine belt, air and ac filters) will never call them again.

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