A few weeks ago during wagon week, I wrote up an unloved pair in the German cars enthusiast world; a 6-speed Passat W8 sedan and automatic W8 Variant. While in general most would prefer the manual, in this case throwing the versatility of the Variant into the mix confused matters. Ultimately, though, it seemed like no one really liked either of these complicated Volkswagens. That’s a shame, because unfortunately companies like Volkswagen and Audi at least in part determine which of their elite models to bring over to the U.S. based upon sales, and in that regard models like the W8 Passat and Phaeton are examples of why the niche cars aren’t brought over here. When they’ve been available to us, we simply haven’t bought them in great number.
Today is another example of the neat W8 platform, this time a darker Silverstone Metallic sedan that also has the desirable 6-speed manual transmission:
Model: Passat W8 4motion
Engine: 4.0 liter W8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 73,000 mi
Price: $8,500 Buy It Now
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion 6-speed on eBay
We are selling a 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4motion with only 73k miles. It comes with the VERY RARE 6-speed manual transmission and full BBS sport package options. It is super clean and runs excellent. Very smooth and powerful car. Please see all the pictures for exact condition. Warranty options are available up to 3 years. We finance and accept credit cards for full/partial payment. We also take trade-ins and can arrange shipping if needed (ask for a quote). Feel free to call us with any questions at 516-543-4600. Thank you
This is a great looking sedan in very good shape; the wheels on the W8 are usually the tell-tale if the car has been well maintained. Those great-looking 2-piece BBS Madras wheels corrode heavily along the polished lip when curbed and not cleaned. The original condition of these wheels would seem to indicate that this car was at least in part well loved. The headlights also show little of the clouding typical in the B5.5 chassis, so either they were well polished (something that doesn’t seem to jibe with the rest of the car’s presentation) or the car was likely garaged, thereby avoiding sun damage.
Silverstone is a pretty, understated color on this performance machine. With lower miles and in good overall condition, as these go this seems to be well presented. However, the car lacks any detailed mechanical history which I would really like when purchasing a car such as this. The last W8 6-speed I wrote up hammered for $5,800 – probably close to the ceiling for the sedan version of this car right now. Considering the slightly lower miles on this car, perhaps $6,500 – $7,000 would be the maximum value for the right person – well short of the $8,500 Buy It Now.
Any thoughts on the mechanical reliability of these cars? I had a ’98 Passat wagon, from new, that at year 5 began falling apart (first car I’ve ever owned that had the rack fail) so I moved on. I remember really liking the ride and handling – a revelation to me that this could be available in a wagon – but didn’t expect to have the reliability of a Fiat when I bought it. Have things gotten better?
They are fairly reliable. The main downfall of owning a W8 Passat is that a lot of even basic repairs either require removing the engine entirely or removing the front end.
Front O2 sensors, remove engine….
Replace headlight bulb, remove front bumper cover and headlight…..
Replace serpentine belt, put front end in service position…..
Replace clutch, remove engine….. (although I have done I the “old fashioned way”) its still around 18-20 hours labor IIRC.
Service position to access the front of the engine is fairly easy but if you cant do it on your own the labor costs on this one can be excessive
Then you get the usual Passat “problems” on top of all that.
Ken, I’ve owned a 99 Passat Wagon 1.8T and currently own a 2002 Passat Wagon 1.8T. I had the opposite experience of you; my 99 was the best Volkswagen I’ve owned to date – I purchased at 120,000 and drove to just north of 200,000 over 3 years. Other than a driveshaft failure, the car never let me down. The check engine light would pop on, usually when it got cold, but would generally clear after a short time. My mechanic found that spacing the O2 sensor out also helped the car run better and throw less codes. Otherwise, it was dead reliable and I sold it to the current owner who is still driving it, to my knowledge. The current car that I own had more issues; it was a turbo failure car while under warranty (I am second owner, it came with all records) and it has gone through several coil packs, though only one during my ownership – which was in part due to a leaky valve cover gasket. Otherwise, I’ve owned it now for about a year and a half and have had no real issues; once the oil leak from the valve cover was sorted and I replaced the battery, it’s in about as close to new shape as you can get for 11 years old. Most of the wagons (if not all) were built in Germany, and they seem to hold up better than the sedans – which were built in a mix of plants. I believe, though, that all of the W8s were German built. It’s pretty common in this era Volkswagen to have check engine lights pop on, so it’s best to get the scanners or know someone that has them, but if you’re clever you can work around some of the issues. The W8 is a pull-to-work-on motor, but so are most of the larger motors in VWs and Audis. They have a service position where most of the front of the car comes off, so that helps, but the need for specialized tools and a lift makes working on these cars yourself tough. As such, they’ll be expensive to own, but the quality of the B5 and B5.5 were seriously a revelation compared to the B4 Passat – which, from all accounts, was atrocious. Those not into Audis and Volkswagens generally would consider these cars a bad choice. Those into VAG products usually find a way to justify them. YMMV, but my experience overall has been quite good, though I’m generally inclined to stay away from the larger motors on daily drivers due to expense of repairs.
Nice cars, these — but I can smell the money pit from a mile away.
Only VAG enthusiasts (and VW fans specifically) would geek out over the W8, I suspect.
Dan, Carter, thanks for the follow-up. I’m not sure whether the Passat platform will ever be for me again in the near-future. The nature of some of the repairs (removing the front end to replace a lightbulb!) weighs more heavily than the driving enjoyment. For me, for a vehicle of this class, reliability and repairability is pretty important. I think, for the next family wagon / cruiser I’ll probably lean towards the BMW or Merc (or an Volvo 70R) and leave nimble to a smaller car for when it’s just me and one passenger.
BTW, keep up the great work. This blog is one of my favorites, and a real education on variations and values across my favorite makes and models.
[…] because of how devoted the owners of similar models are and how few were imported. While we see W8 6-speed sedans on an infrequent but semi-regular basis the wagons are just very hard to come by. How rare are […]
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