Volkswagen Passat 1.4 TSI (DSG) Review
Downsize with no compromise

Story and photos by Raymond Lai
14 Sep 2012

Volkswagen has achieved a masterstroke with the introduction of a new entry-level 1.4 TSI Passat variant, reckons Raymond Lai.

Introduction, styling

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, it was common for mid-sized cars to come with small engines that were less than 1.6-litres in size. The first generation Volkswagen Passat from 1973 is a case in point. As cars grew bigger and heavier though, engine sizes in cars like the Passat needed to grow as well in order to satisfy the performance needs – shoehorn an engine that is too small in a relatively big car and it’ll guarantee anemic performance.

Things have changed in recent years though. Modern technologies like turbocharging, direct injection and the dual clutch transmissions have enabled car manufacturers to introduce smaller, downsized engines even in their bigger models. Examples of mid-sized saloon cars available locally with relatively small turbocharged engines that are 1.6-litre or smaller in size include the Mercedes-Benz C180 Kompressor and Volvo’s T4 models. Now, there’s a new model out there to join this enviable list and it’s from one of the masters of engine downsizing, Volkswagen.

As its name suggests, the Passat 1.4 TSI is powered by one of Volkswagen’s famed 1.4-litre direct injection, turbocharged motor. Its engine size means that this new variant is classified as a Cat A COE model, a crucial point to note these days as Cat A COEs are significantly cheaper than Cat B COEs and that most of the Passat’s similarly sized competitors are placed in the more expensive COE category. Volkswagen claims that the new model offers the sophistication expected of a Passat but at a much more affordable price tag but is this actually true? Let’s find out.

When the current Passat was introduced early last year, I reckoned that it looks rather similar to the car it replaces but according to Volkswagen, the only common exterior body panel between the two is the roof, which makes it rather hard to be convinced when the two models look so strikingly similar to each other at a glance. Scrutinise the styling further though and one will notice the minor detail changes on each of the body panels.

The 1.4 TSI is largely similar to the 1.8 TSI that was launched last year bar its smaller, 16-inch ‘Perugia’ alloy wheels, the lack of a ‘TSI’ badge on the boot lid as well as less bright work on the front bumper. 

The Passat isn’t exactly the most imaginative looking saloon car in its class while the 1.4 TSI with its smaller wheels, look even clumsier than the 1.8 TSI. Some even note that it looks too much likes a bigger Jetta, lacking its own visual character, but like the Golf, it has proven once again how timeless Volkswagen exterior designs can be.

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Engine Capacity 1390cc TurbochargedSupercharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10:1
Bore x Stroke (76.5 X 75.6)mm
Power 122bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 200Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 82.8 bhp per ton


Acceleration 10.3s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 203 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 15.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed DSG
Drive Type FF


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(4769 x 1820 x 1470) mm
Wheelbase 2712 mm
Turning Circle 5708 metres
Kerb Weight 1473 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 70 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs