2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant with 46,000 Miles

Does the Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Tiptronic make any sense as a driver? Not really. If you want something as quick, a chipped 1.8T will easily keep up and is available as a manual. If you want something as luxurious, for much less money than this example you could get into a very pretty, bigger, and all-wheel drive Audi A6 quattro Avant. And if you had to have a Volkswagen Passat with 4Motion, the V6 model represents most of this car minus a bit of grunt, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in reliability and cost of bills compared to the W8. But shouldn’t we celebrate that Volkswagen even offered us this car? It’s easy to forget that this was top of the heap in 2003 for VAG wagons; the B5 S4 was out of production, and even then this car made more power than the twin-turbo V6 did stock. The B6 S4 was yet to be introduced, and while the engine in that one was a screamer, you’d need to wait another year to order one. On top of that, we often lament as enthusiasts that we didn’t get the top-spec model; not true of the W8 Passat, which minus a few minor details was the same car offered in Europe. A little over a decade later, most are heading the way of the dodo; this is likely to be a car you seldom see anymore in just a few years. There are a few devoted fans, but few who will contemplate taking on a complicated, one-off motor like the W8 as a daily driver. But what if it appears to be nearly new?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant on eBay

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2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed with 41,000 Miles

I’m obviously a big fan of the B5/5.5 Volkswagen Passat Variant, having now owned two. They’re fun to drive, have remarkable ride quality and a near-luxury feel, and are hugely capable carriers. Notably, one time I got an entire Ikea kitchen inside the rear of the my 1999 – aside from too-soft springs for really heavy loads, the 5-doors have shrugged off every single crazy task I’ve thrown at them and though parts can be a bit expensive they’ve been very dependable. But there is one thing that really flummoxes my Passat of choice, the 1.8T. Put a few people in it, turn the outside heat up above 90 with high humidity and crank the air conditioning, and the turbocharged inline-4 can barely get out of its own way. The lag, which in most other situations is barely noticeable, suddenly becomes laughable – especially if there are any hills involved. Of course, in the Passat, you had several options for engines which had more power than the 1.8T out of the box; the 2.8 30V V6 wasn’t a bad option, but if you wanted all-wheel drive, too, then you could only get an automatic. But move up to the 270 horsepower 4 liter W8, and you could select a 6-speed manual mated to the 4Motion drivetrain in Variant wagon form. That was something that only 95 people did from 2003 to 2004, making these Passats highly sought “unicorns” for some VW faithful:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant on eBay

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2004 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant

Off the bat, I’ll admit that the B5 and B5.5 Passat is not the most exciting or best looking car in the world. It was, however, a serious step up in quality and design for the company. As they had with the B2, Volkswagen turned to partner Audi for the platform for the B5 and B5.5 Passat. It launched after the Audi A4 by one year and was decidedly more conservative in styling, at least originally. As it had been in the B1,2,3 and 4 platforms, the B5 was available initially in two configurations – sedan and Variant wagon. Motivation was provided either by the new 1.8T turbocharged inline-4 or the standby 12 valve V6. In 2001, Volkswagen refreshed the package with styling that brought the Passat closer to its B6 Audi cousins; new projector beam headlights were the largest notable change, though truth told most of the exterior trim changed in between the B5 and B5.5. Engines were also upgraded; the 1.8T changed to the newer, higher output 170 horsepower model shared with the A4, the V6 sprouted 18 more valves for a few more horsepower, and the new W8 engine was mated to the Audi all-wheel drive now badged 4Motion instead of Syncro. You could also get the frugal TDi motor again; something that was left out of the U.S. Audi lineup at the time and had skipped the B5 generation. What the Passat gained by these interactions with Audi was a level of build quality and refinement that hadn’t previously been seen in the top of the range Volkswagen; if you knew what you were looking at, it was indeed as nice as the Audis, had slightly more leg room and was just as nice to drive. While they weren’t the headline grabbers, my favorite of the model run are the 1.8Ts in upscale GLS trim – and of course, you had to get a wagon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant on eBay

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10K Friday: Practical Performance Edition – S4 Avant v. 944 Turbo v. S600 v. Passat TDi Variant v. M5

One of the things I love most about these 10K posts is the breadth of selections and ideas that I dream up to try to pull together. Today’s thought was about practical performance – what’s the most your can buy for $10,000? As a result, we have quite a diverse selection to make it through today, ranging from a 2.0 TDi gas sipper through a 5.5 liter, twin-turbocharged V12 torque monster. In their respective ways, each is a great car (at least, in premise) and probably defines its category. What’s your favorite of this group?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 quattro Avant on eBay

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How rare? 2003 and 2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion 6-speed

We talk at length about the rarity of various cars, and when it comes to the W8 Passat 6-speeds, that’s more than just lip service. Only a bit over 450 6-speeds were imported to North America in sedan and Variant form, making them quite rare amongst any measure of car. But when you break down the color combinations that were available and especially factor in the wagon, you can get production numbers down to single digits in some configurations. Considering the sedan outnumbered the wagon over three to one, you’re more likely to find a 6-speed sedan than wagon, but today we’ve got one of each to look at. Which is the rarest of the rare?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion 6-speed on eBay

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Duocorns: 1987 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Syncro Variant and 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed

In yesterday’s Audi project post, I wrote up two more-rare Audis with potential, though both would require some work and dedication to get to daily driver status. Today, I’ve got two more “project” cars – though, if anything, these two are considerably more rare these days than either of the two Audis. Both are all-wheel drive wagons from Volkswagen, but if you can quint and see a family resemblance, that’s about all that links them together. The first is the B2 Audi-derived Quantum Syncro – essentially, an Audi 4000 quattro with Volkswagen hubs, wheels and brakes and a unique rear suspension under the Quantum body. The Passat W8 also shared Audi A4 all-wheel drive components but essentially was a completely different offering, from the 6-speed manual transmission this model sports to the unique W8 motor stuffed into the discreet Passat Variant package. While there were considerably more Quantum Syncros produced than W8 6-speeds, finding one today can be quite hard – many succumbed to poor residual value, rust and neglect; though not complicated cars, the were more expensive to work on than the standard 4-cylinder models. The W8 is at the verge of falling into the same fate, with the exception of original production numbers – with only a handful of W8 Variants imported originally, both of these cars are serious unicorns these days. Which is your style?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Syncro Variant on eBay

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10K Friday Family Truckster Edition: E500 Wagon v. 530xi Touring v. Passat 1.8T 4Motion Variant v. S6 v. Touareg v. Cayenne S

Family life – it’s a mixed blessing. I could never have imagined the unintended consequences expanding my family by 50%; in terms of space consumed, physics and logic told me that there was no way that the amount of space required with a small child would increase any more than…say, 50%. Yet, the reality of adding to my family is that the amount of space required for even what seems like the most miniscule trip increases disproportionately to the size of the package that arrives. Babies are a bit like those magic sponges in a capsule I got when I was a kid; once they hit air, they expand to 200-300% the size they were. So, long story short, when you have a family you likely need more space.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a general backing away from wagons towards the bane of most enthusiast’s existence, the S.U.V. and the “crossover” – many of which are really just tall wagons. So what are the options if you want to maintain an enthusiast’s lifestyle whilst still surviving the onslaught of baby-themed items? Well, for around $10,000 you can get some pretty diverse rides – so let’s see what’s the one you’d choose:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 4Matic Wagon on eBay

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Wednesday Wheels GCFSB Project: 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant Part 1

While we all want to have a classic, sporty German car in our lives, the reality of daily driver duty often falls onto less exotic cars. Several years ago I purchased a 1999 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T GLS to do just that; it replaced a 97 Golf as my daily driver, and I enjoyed over 100,000 miles behind the wheel. Unlike the reputation these cars have gained, I found my Passat to be very reliable – it never once left me stranded or failed to start, it could get 36 mpg if I didn’t get too deep into the throttle, and it was comfortable, quick and fun to drive. After a year of company car duty, the time had come for me to purchase another daily driver, and my immediate thought was that I wanted another Passat.

The search began, and it wasn’t very easy. There are two classes of Passats; devoted owners that keep their cars in great condition, and wrecks that will bankrupt you trying just to pass emissions. But in general the wagon versions were better kept than the sedans; likely a testament to their high sticker prices. It’s hard to fathom, but in 2002 my current car’s sticker price was over $26,000 – more than a brand new Passat will set you back today. As such, the Variants seem to be better kept than the sedans in general, and that was certainly the case when I finally found the car to buy. Priced higher in the market, it was a one-owner 100,000 mile Ink Blue model with grey leather. A GLS spec, it came with many nicer features and alloys, but wasn’t the wood-lined V6 luxury model. The single owner had been meticulous and had every record from new. It was the first time I had ever bought a car like this, and it was clearly worth the premium.

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2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant with 33,000 Miles

Earlier in the day that I wrote this, I was out and about doing errands with my son in my 2002 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T Variant. I was enjoying a sunny spring day that has finally arrived in New England, sunroof open with my son pointing out everything of interest to him; which is most things, as it turns out. But what struck me as I drove around is how nice and underrated the Passat is; an Audi in a Volkswagen dress, it’s a well built, quiet and comfortable cruiser. When you want to go a bit faster, it acts more like a big GTi than a small Audi. And in back, it can swallow a load of cargo that would leave most sport utility vehicles to shame. Yet the Passat is often overlooked as a choice, heaped into the Check-Engine-Light generation of Volkswagen Audi products to look out for. Well, speaking from now 6 years of Passat ownership, it’s never once left me stranded and for what should be a dull daily driver, it’s a good looking and fun to drive reminder of why we buy German cars. To top off my drive, I ended at my mechanics where I had to drop off some parts for the Coupe GT; one of the patrons walked out and up to the Passat and remarked “It looks like a new car!” While that may be a bit of a stretch on my 12 year old, 115,000 mile example, it’s not on this top of the line Passat today – a W8 4Motion Variant with a scant 33,474 miles covered since new:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 on eBay

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2004 Volkswagen Passat GLX V6 5-speed Manual

Growing up, my parents had an affinity for Hondas. I think years of Fiats wore my father down and the reliability of Japanese subcompacts was too attractive. But then, in the late 1990s, Volkswagen changed the mid-sized sedan game with the B5 Passat. Sharing architecture with the Audi A4, the new Passat brought a lot of luxury and refinement to what was becoming an otherwise lackluster vehicle segment in the US. Sure enough, my parents traded their 1997 Honda Accord EX for a 1999 Passat GLS V6 with a 5-speed manual gearbox. It took a while to have the car delivered, since the manual gearbox was a bit of an oddball request, but once they got the car, it was leaps and bounds more engaging than the four cylinder Accord ever was. My parents kept the car for about three years before trading it for a 2000 Mercedes-Benz C280 (which they still have), but I was a big fan of that Passat.

This silver on black leather 2004 Passat for sale in Pennsylvania is the later B5.5 generation, but has the same color and drivetrain combination as the Passat that was in our family, one that I have fond memories of. It was one of those cars that should have stuck around in the garage a bit longer.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Passat GLX V6 on eBay

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