- Excellent performance with sleeper styling
- Very practical interior - especially the boot
- Great handling ability
- It's expensive to buy and service
- Still lacking some features at this price
- Dual-clutch auto not perfect
The year is 2021 and you’re looking for a fast-yet-practical car to take the kids to school in and to participate in all aspects of family life. But you shouldn’t be looking at an SUV, no, you should be looking at a wagon. Here we present the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line, which is one of the best wagons available in Australia. It combines a wide range of talent: it’s quick, practical, good quality and features a lot of the latest tech. Is the Passat 206TSI the ultimate in family motoring? Let’s find out.
The days of the typical family car being a large station wagon are over thanks to the rise of the SUV. Out are the Holden Kingswood and Commodore wagons and in are cars like the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4. The Passat wagon doesn’t have too many competitors due to the small market it plays in but the Mazda6 wagon, Skoda Superb wagon and the Peugeot 508 GT wagon are all still (thankfully!) available.
Price & Specs: 7/10
The 2022 Volkswagen Passat range starts with the 162TSI Elegance, which is priced at $54,890 plus on-road costs. As an entry level model into the Passat range, the 162TSI Elegance is on the pricey side as the Mazda6 Sport base model is priced at $35,890 +ORC. The Skoda Superb 162TSI Style (which shares the same platform and drivetrain as the Passat) starts at $56,990 drive away. The 206TSI R-Line variant of the Passat range is wagon only, and sits atop the local range.
The top of the range 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line we tested here is priced at $64,890 plus on-road costs. Standard kit on the top Passat includes 19-inch ‘Pretoria’ alloy wheels, a 9.2-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, an 11-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, drive mode selection, tri-zone climate control, nappa leather upholstery, heated and electric front seats with driver’s massage and memory functionality, an auto-dimming rear mirror, auto LED lighting and auto wipers, heated and auto folding exterior mirrors, keyless entry with push button start, configurable ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof.
Safety kit in the Passat 206TSI includes nine airbags, automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, driver fatigue monitoring, automatic rear braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, lane trace assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, emergency assist, automatic post-collision braking, Matrix adaptive high beam functionality, automatic parking, tyre pressure monitoring and an alarm.
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line seemingly comes with everything but unfortunately it does miss out on wireless charging, cooled seats, heated rear seats, live traffic updates and a heads-up display. The top of the range Mazda6 Atenza has a heads-up display, heated rear seats and cooled front seats for around $16,000 less than the Passat.
When comparing tops-pec models, the Mazda6 Atenza wagon is priced at $56,162 drive away, the Skoda Superb 206TSI Sportline comes in at $67,990 drive away and the Peugeot 508 GT wagon is priced at $64,500 drive away. The Passat is more expensive than all of its rivals. The Skoda has basically the same equipment as the Passat has for less money and the Mazda6 Atenza offers 90% of the equipment level of the Passat but for only 79% of the price.
There are three standard colours offered on the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line, which are ‘Manganese Grey’, ‘Moonstone Grey’ and ‘Pure White’. For an additional $800 you can have the choice of four premium colours: ‘Deep Black’, ‘Aquamarine Blue’, ‘Pyrite Silver’ and our test car’s ‘Lapis Blue’. Unusually for Volkswagen, there are no options for the Passat 206TSI R-Line with the local branch deciding to offer it fully loaded for now.
Performance & Economy: 9/10
The engine powering the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line is the familiar ‘EA888’ 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that powers other performance VW products like the Golf R. In this application, it produces 206kW of power and 350Nm of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via Volkswagen’s ‘4Motion’ all-wheel drive system. The sole gearbox option is a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The engine feels strong with plenty of power throughout the whole rev range and stamping your foot on the loud pedal really emphasises this. It is almost like stepping on a fast forward button and being in a car as big as the Passat wagon, you just don’t expect the amount of acceleration that you get. The engine also has a split personality as it can be pushed hard to extract every drop of performance out of it but it is also placid and quiet when you just need to drive normally. There are oddly no performance claims, but the mechanically identical pre-update Passat 206TSI completed the 0-100km/h sprint time in 5.7 seconds.
The six-speed wet-clutch dual-clutch automatic transmission in the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line performs excellently when on the limit as when you’re driving enthusiastically, it changes gears almost instantly. But around town, the transmission can lurch or roll back when starting from a standstill and can sometimes feel a little dull or slow to engage gears. This is entirely typical for this kind of gearbox, but still annoying nonetheless.
Competitors simply don’t offer this level of performance, aside from the Skoda Superb Sportline, which has the exact same engine and outputs as the Passat 206TSI R-Line. The Mazda6 Atenza wagon has a 2.5-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine that produces 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque, which is 36kW less than the Passat but 70Nm more torque. The Peugeot 508 comes with a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 165kW of power and 300Nm of torque, which is a lot less than the Passat, but it does also weigh 260kg less as well.
The claimed average fuel consumption for the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line is 8.1L/100km, which isn’t bad for the level of performance on offer. Good luck achieving that with the Passat’s fun nature though – we struggled to get it under 10L/100km and eventually settled on 9.5L/100km with more highway driving. Like other VW Group products, the Passat 206TSI must be filled with 98RON fuel and it features a 66-litre fuel tank.
Ride & Handling: 8/10
Using the VW Group’s MQB platform, the Passat drives very well. The adjustable dampers on the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line are very good. When in comfort or normal modes, the ride is compliant and very liveable for day to day usage. Speed bumps and driveways are a breeze in the Passat. Flicking the Passat into sport mode does the firm the ride up a bit and gives it better body control than in comfort mode, but it is in no way uncomfortable as there is still a great level of composure to the ride.
Flicking the drive mode selector into sport firms up the dampers, but it also makes the Passat handle like a hot hatch. There is very little understeer when pushing into corners – instead, there’s mountains of grip. The Passat corners at speeds that a car the size of it really shouldn’t.
Of all of its rivals, the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line is the best handling of the large wagons – it’s mostly helped by the 4Motion all-wheel drive system and the adjustable suspension set up. The steering isn’t the last word in feel and the handling isn’t the most engaging, but family buyers wanting a sporty wagon will feel at home in the Passat.
Interior & Practicality: 9/10
Volkswagens have always been known for their quality interiors and thankfully the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line does not disappoint. While the design is conservative, most surfaces are covered in soft touch materials and stitched nappa leather upholstery. The switchable mood lighting adds an expensive feel, as do the high quality screens in the centre of the dashboard and in front of the driver.
As we said, the interior quality in the Passat is great. There is a soft touch dash, soft touch portions on the doors, very comfortable sports seats covered in nappa leather that is supple and there are also floc- lined door bins that will reduce the noise of anything you put in there when driving. The rear door panels can be a little on the harder side, as can the front centre console, but those are the only negatives we have with the quality of the Passat interior.
The storage throughout the cabin is exceptional. There is a small cubby by the driver’s right-hand knee for keys or coins, large door bins, a space for your wallet behind the electronic hand brake, a space for your phone in front of the gear selector, a large glove box, generously proportioned centre console, rear map pockets and the cup holders have a cover on them so when not in use they can be used as storage.
The 9.2-inch ‘Discover Pro’ touch screen in the Passat is excellent, although the lack of a proper volume knob is frustrating and the gesture controls rarely worked too. The system itself is fantastic though with menus that are easy to navigate and the screen quality is very sharp. The navigation system is good, although no live traffic updates is annoying. Like most people, we would just connect our phone via the wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and use the maps on our phone. The digital driver’s display is very configurable and easy to set to what you like.
The rear seats in the Passat are comfortable and offer a good amount of support, while there are also a plethora of rear amenities for rear passengers. There are rear sunshades, map pockets, a single USB charging port, rear climate control and air vents and a fold down centre armrest with cupholders. Unfortunately there are no rear heated seats in the back of the Passat wagon.
Opening the power tailgate in the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line reveals 650-litres of cargo space with the rear seats in place. Folding them down by the levers in the boot area opens this space up to 1,780L. In comparison a Skoda Superb SportLine wagon can hold 660-litres of cargo space with the rear seats in place and 1,950-litres with them folded but the Mazda6 wagon has a lesser 506L/1,648L of space.
Running Costs & Warranty: 6/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line comes with Volkswagen’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. The same warranty is offered on the Skoda Superb, Mazda6 and the Peugeot 508. The Passat only comes with 12 months of roadside assistance – that’s topped up with each dealer service to five years in total – whereas the Mazda6 comes with a full five years.
Servicing the Passat comes around every 12 months or 15,000km, which is better than the 12 months/10,000km intervals that the Mazda6 requires, but not as good as the 12 month/20,000km intervals that the Peugeot 508 GT has. The cost of servicing the Passat 206TSI over the span of five years/75,000km is $3,191 ($638 per service) which is very expensive – the fourth year/60,000km service alone is more than $1,300. The overall cost of servicing a Mazda6 over five years is $1,805, though that’s only to 50,000km.
2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.8/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line is a great all-rounder. It is comfortable, roomy, practical, fast, nimble and sticking to look at. Fast wagons are usually exclusively for the rich with cars like the Audi RS6 and Porsche Panamera Wagon but Volkswagen has brought that sort of ethos at a much more affordable price. The all-wheel drive system in the Passat paired with the adaptive dampers make it handle better than some of the hot hatches currently on sale. This and that it has the engine that also powers the Golf R mega hatch means that it is one very capable wagon.
Yes, it is very expensive to service, it does miss some key features and it isn’t the cheapest to buy – the lower-spec 162TSI will be more than enough for most buyers – but we think that the 2021 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line is a very good substitute for an SUV. Would we recommend one over a Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI? Definitely. A Passat is not only more practical than a Tiguan but it is much more engaging to drive. We are big fans of wagons here at DiscoverAuto and with such well rounded cars on the market like the Passat, it’s easy to see why.