Last year was a tough one for Volkswagen. In fact, the company simply won’t be the same again following the diesel emissions scandal.

Before that, there were DSG gearbox problems and other engine issues. Now, there is little doubt Volkswagen has more motivation than ever to keep its name out the negative press.

By Alex Forrest

The new Passat, launched in October 2015, may be the model to start the process of rebuilding the brand’s reputation.

Globally, the Passat is VW’s most popular model, and it’s also the brand’s oldest badge that’s still in production.

In Australia, in the medium sized car segment where the Passat competes, the Toyota Camry dominates with a 50 per cent market share, although a big chunk of that is fleet sales.

After the Camry’s finished at the sales trough, the best of the rest is the Mazda6, followed by the Subaru Liberty with the VW Passat in fourth.

Fresh new competition also arrived in 2015 from the new Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima GT, but the Passat remains the go-to vehicle for those seeking some extra badge recognition in their mid-sized car for minimal extra expenditure.

In fact, the Passat looks, feels and drives like it’s much more expensive than it really is, which in itself will make people think twice about whether they really need to spend an extra $10,000 on an SUV.

Pricing starts at $39,400 drive away for the 132TSI sedan, ranging up to $51,600 for the 140TDI. Wagons are an extra $2,000.

The one we drove was the 132TSI Comfortline wagon, which starts at $47,140 drive away. Auto braking, active lane keeping and blind spot warning systems are available in this and the 140TDI Highline.

On the road, the 132TSI’s standout attribute is the engine’s peak torque of 250Nm from a very low 1,250rpm.

This quietly-generated torque at low revs is a traditional signifier of a luxury car, and is what sets the Passat apart from its naturally aspirated competitors such as the Mazda6, Subaru Liberty and Toyota Camry.

In the ADR combined cycle test, the Passat 132TSI uses 6.0L/100km, though we averaged 8.7l/100km around town.

2015 Volkswagen Passat Specifications

Price: from $39,395 driveaway
Engine: 1.8-litre four cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 132kw @ 5,100rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 1250-5200rpm
Claimed fuel economy: 6.0litres/100km (man) 6.1litres/100km (auto)
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars
CO2 Emissions: 136g/km
This vehicle qualify for RAC Less Emissions Mission rewards.