Track Tested: 2012 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium


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In our First Drive of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, Editor Ed Hellwig wrote, "What it lacks in style it makes up for in precision. If you want more than just a softly sprung freeway cruiser, this Americanized Passat will do the trick." Since then, we've longed to get the all-new, built in-and-for the U.S.A 2012 Volkswagen Passat onto our test track.

The first new Passat to show at our offices was the 2012 Passat V6 SEL Premium with the 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 ($32,950) and a six-speed DSG. It's both the most luxurious and the most powerful Passat available. Follow the jump to see if it lives up to our first impressions.

Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL
Date Tested: 8-2-2011
Driver: Chris Walton
Base Price: $32,950

Specifications:
Drive Type: Transverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Displacement (cc): 3,597cc (219 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 280 @ 6,200
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 258 @ 2,500-5,000
Steering System: Hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink
Tire Size (front): 235/45R18 (94H)
Tire Size (rear): 235/45R18 (94H)
Tire Brand: Hankook
Tire Model: Optimo H426
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel size: 18 inches front and rear
Brakes Front: 12.3-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes Rear: *10.7* 13.7-inch solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,517


Test Results:

Acceleration (manual mode used)
0-30 (sec): 2.7 (3.0 in D)
0-45 (sec): 4.3 (4.6 in D)
0-60 (sec): 6.4 (6.8 in D)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.1 (6.5 in D)
0-75 (sec): 9.1 (9.5 in Manual Mode)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.6 @ 96.4 (14.9 @ 96.7 in D)

Braking
30-0 (ft): 33
60-0 (ft): 131

Handling
Slalom (mph): 62.6 with T/C on (NA with T/C off)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.81 on (NA with T/C off)

Sound
Db @ Idle: 43.1
Db @ Full Throttle: 73.7
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 69.0

Cruising RPM @ 70 mph: 2,200

Comments

Acceleration: This Passat has no Trac-off button and hates pedal overlap, so best run was with progressive (but fast) throttle application to avoid wheelspin and the resulting traction control throttle closure. I tried all three transmission modes (D, S, Manual) and perhaps manual was slightly quicker-shifting, as it still auto-upshifts. In Sport, it liked to short shift 1-2 (perhaps due to wheelspin.)

Braking: Very little initial bite from 60-40 mph, but plenty from there to zero. Some pedal pulsation, but little noise from ABS. Straight stops with quite a lot of dive and anomalous 131-foot fifth stop that was 5-8 feet shorter than the rest. Not confidence-inspiring.

Handling

Skid pad: Non-defeat ESC means finding prescribed electronic limit. At that threshold, very subtle brake application precedes throttle closure to maintain steady arc. Steering provides good weight and adequate feel. Tires remained quiet and steady.

Slalom: Non-defeat ESC rewards smooth steering input and progressive throttle application -- otherwise massive corrections from brake and throttle. Done right, the car still feels enormous and slow to transfer weight from side to side. Steering is precise and well weighted.

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