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2014 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T Sport First Test

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/4/2014 Rory Jurnecka, Michael Shaffer

While the current generation Passat has earned its fair share of awards and praise, including being named our 2012 Car of the Year, many have had one bit of criticism for the model: the base version's 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder engine. Even with claims of lineage from the heady V-10 supercar engine found in the Lamborghini Gallardo, the little I-5 is often derided for its lack of low-end grunt and unique engine note. As the Rodney Dangerfield of modern powertrains, it just can't get no respect.

That 2.5 carries on halfway through the 2014 model year as the Passat's entry-level engine, but it is offered alongside the new 1.8-liter turbocharged I-4 that will ultimately succeed it. Essentially a de-stroked version of VW's new EA888 2.0T engine, the new 1.8T makes the same horsepower as the soon-to-be-discontinued 2.5, but produces 7 more lb-ft of torque and makes it lower in the powerband -- 184 lb-ft at 1500 rpm versus 177 lb-ft at 4250 rpm. The new engine eschews VW's DSG dual-clutch gearbox for a less complex, conventional six-speed automatic.

a car parked in a parking lot

© Provided by MotorTrend Other changes for 2014 include a switch from hydraulic-assist steering on 1.8T-equipped cars to electric assist, a move that frees up precious engine power and improves fuel efficiency while thankfully retaining a hint of steering feel and solid weighting. Volkswagen is also introducing its VW Car-Net connected service, a built-in cellular system for roadside assistance and automatic crash notification, along with a smartphone app that allows for even more features.

On the road, the 1.8T engine proves up to the task, providing strong, smooth power moving away from stoplights, and a sporty, if subdued, engine note to boot -- it's basically a 2.0T Lite. Our six-speed automatic tester shifted smoothly and kept revs low on the freeway for quiet cruising, and the paddle-shifted manual mode was also reasonably responsive when called upon for highway passing and a bit of back-road fun.

2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport In our instrumented testing, the Passat 1.8T trounced its 2.5-liter sibling. Not only did it hit 60 mph from a standstill a full second quicker (7.8 seconds versus 8.8 seconds), but it nailed the quarter-mile mark in 15.9 seconds at 88.5 mph, a huge improvement from the 2.5's 16.6 seconds/85.1 mph time. Our Sport version, with 19-inch wheels, also chopped nearly a full second off the 2.5's figure-eight time: 27.2 seconds versus 28.1 seconds.

While those wheels might tighten up the car's handling on a smooth skidpad, they do impart a slight detriment to the freeway ride quality. More surface imperfections find their way to occupants' posteriors than with the 16-,17- or 18-inch wheels offered with other trim levels. While those looking for a sportier sedan may not mind, it's worth spending time in several trim levels to see if a less-aggressive wheel package might be more to your liking. Even if you end up with a Sport version, the wheels can always be swapped later.

The Sport trim package on our car also included a small lip spoiler, aluminum pedals, and stainless steel door sill covers. A rearview camera, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and touch-screen infotainment system are also standard. Sport trim slots between SE and SEL spec Passats and starts at $27,295 including destination and delivery fees. © Provided by MotorTrend2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport

2014 Volkswagon Passat TSI Sport
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE1.8L/170-hp/184-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)3281 lb (59/41%)
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT191.6 x 72.2 x 58.5 in
0-60 MPH7.8 sec
QUARTER MILE15.9 sec @ 88.5 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH123 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.2 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY140/99 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS0.70 lb/mile

2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport

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