My 2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS

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Image of our new Passat...      Here is my wife's old 2003 Passat.  My Jetta is still my playtoy.  The Passat was our "family car" and my wife was the primary driver.  The only reason we chose a Passat over another Jetta is rear legroom (however, similar legroom can be had in 2006 and later Jettas).   Although the specs only show another few inches of rear legroom, the difference was remarkable!  Unlike the Mexican-built Jetta, Golf, and New Beetle, the Passat was actually imported from Emden, Germany.  Many would say this contributed to the Passat's flawless workmanship.  However, the Mexican cars are built exactly to German specs by German machines. Therefore, I tend to think the Passat is simply a better-designed car with more attention to detail.  Simply opening the doors and looking at the extra attention to weatherstripping, aerodynamics, and sheet metal tolerances showed that more thought and detail went into the Passat's design.  The weatherstripping surrounding the engine bay pictured below kept the engine compartment clean and dry.

The 1.8T...      The B5.5 Passat was available with three engine choices:  1) the 1.8T, a four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 170-hp, is standard; 2) the V6 (not to be confused with the VR6), which puts out 190-hp; and 3) the W8, which is an eight cylinder that puts out 275-hp.  The W8 is only available in an all-wheel drive Passat that costs nearly $40,000.  NO THANKS!  The V6 Passat costs about $2000 more than the 1.8T; but it only gets you an additional 20-hp.  Many VW enthusiasts believe the 1.8T is "detuned" by VW in order to keep V6 sales up.  Believing this, I chose the 1.8T.  By simply reprogramming the ECU, the 1.8T can generate 215-hp and 245-ft/lbs and still net over 30-mpg on the highway.  I kept the Passat stock over the years, mostly because my wife didn't want me to touch it!  ;-) While my GLS is not a "luxury car," it is nicely equipped.  The B5.5's came with cool-blue dash lighting and a multi-function computer.  The difference was immediately noticeable, but easy on the eyes. My Passat had the Monsoon Sound System, featuring both CD and cassette players.  I'm a CD/MP3 kind of listener.   The cassette player is virtually worthless.  While I don't think Monsoon is the BEST stereo out there, it did sound fairly good for a factory stereo.  

Jump in and take a drive...      My Passat never did replace my Jetta as the house play toy.  It was simply a "mommy-mobile."  We even took the old Jetta on road trips instead of the Passat.  It's tough to forget the Jetta gets over 45-mpg during loaded touring.  I've developed a few dislikes of the car over the years.  They can be large or small depending on our level of mechanical expertise.  First, changing the air filter is not as simple as it should be.  There's a bunch of convoluted hoses in the way.  I never found a way to do the job without scraping up my hands.  The oil/filter change was a tad painful, too.  The belly pan has all sorts of attaching pieces which either break or don't thread back as designed (independent mechanics lost those parts and replaced them with junk).  There seems to be no great way of removing the oil filter without spilling oil on horizontal engine/tranny surfaces below it, allowing oil to trickle all through the subframe.  I usually had to flush my subframe with brake cleaner after each oil change.   :-(  IMPORTANT: The small oil pan used on the B5.5 with 1.8T makes it prone to oil sludging.  It's very important to use the specified synthetic oil as well as the oversized oil filter to increase capacity.  I didn't suffer engine problems.  I treated my 1.8T with AUTO-RX for peace of mind.  Later, it developed vacuum leaks and a few expensive problems.  There came a point when I felt it was time to sell.  Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions regarding my Passat.  I'm no Passat or 1.8T expert; but I'll be glad to share my ownership experiences with you.  I can honestly say I was glad to see it go.

See you on the road...

Scott



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