According to motortrend, Volkswagen's popular midsizer remained a strong seller since its last major remodel for the 1998 model year. It looked good, handled nicely, and served well as a smart-priced alternative to some of the costlier German brands. Now, the Passat would have power, too--and not just from a turbo option, but via a revolutionary new engine architecture based on a "W" instead of a "V." A high-tech eight-cylinder motor and all-wheel drive? Sport suspension and a six-speed stick? Sounded like a bargain-priced alternative to a 540i Sport or A6 4.2. We, among others, were excited about what the Passat W8 promised. Put us down for 12 months' worth.
Everyone had his take on the $40K sticker price when the car was introduced in mid-2002. Some staffers felt it a good value, as the Passat W8 was the least expensive eight-cylinder German sport sedan--by a lot--on the market at the time. It also was intended to help bridge the gap about to be created in VW's lineup by the introduction of the S-Class-size Phaeton, which started at over $60 grand. Yet, in spite of the Passat W8's high equipment levels, others felt $40,000 for a midsize VW--the body style of which had already been on the market for five years--was still a stretch for the brand that earned its cred with spendthrifty Beetles and Rabbits.
Download 2003 Vw Passat Owners Manual