Sun, 16 Oct 2005


The New Passat is upon us. What's also new about the New Passat launch is how it's being launched. I'm talking about alpha:drivers. (news coverage)

And if you figured me the kind of person who'd sign up, you'd be right.

The key perk not mentioned in the news article is that each Alpha:Driver gets up to a $1000 rebate on the purchase or lease of a New Passat.

Which begs the question of what to do when my current lease expires in March. Conventional wisdom states that if the residual value is higher at lease end, buy the car and keep it, or sell it for a profit. Otherwise, if the residual value is lower, walk away since the same car off the market could be had for less.

The $1000 rebate makes it tempting to get into a New Passat at the end of the lease, but it's not that simple. First, the entry price for a V6 Passat has climbed steeply. So steep, in fact, that an A3 DSG offers the same key features I'm looking for, for several grand less.

Second, since my last article, I've weighed my priorities in a vehicle, and the breakdown, in order of priority, is fuel economy (used with each revolution of the engine), DSG (used with each gear shift), wagon/hatch (used with the occasional trip home from the hardware store), and 4MOTION (used in only the most extreme driving conditions).

In that light, the vehicles that offer those benefits, in order of preference, are the A3 DSG (with 31mpg, DSG, and hatch), followed by the Jetta TDI DSG (42mpg, DSG, but no hatch or AWD), my current Passat (29mpg, no DSG, but wagon + AWD), and the 2006 Passat 2.0T Wagon (30mpg, no DSG or AWD, but wagon).

When weighing the prices, the cheapest is the Jetta, the most expensive the 2006 Passat even with the $1000 rebate check (which is in last place anyway).

And, by March, it's unlikely that VW will launch a Passat with TDI, or DSG, or 4MOTION. Jalopnik suggests we won't see a Jetta Wagon of any kind well past March either. Which means my next car will probably be one of these configurations:

Vehicle Economy DSG "Avant" AWD MSRP
(closely configured)
'06 Audi A3 27/31 mpg Y Y N ~$28,000
'06 Jetta TDI 35/42 mpg Y N N ~$28,000
'02 VW Passat GLX Wagon 25/29 mpg N Y Torsen N/A
'06 VW Passat 2.0T Wagon 25/30 mpg (est.) N Y N ~$28,000

The question is whether I'm willing to take the Jetta sans hatch in favor of its better fuel economy over the A3, or to remain in the Passat (residual permitting). The $1000 rebate is barely keeping the low-end 2006 Passat Wagon in the running.

To be fair, the Passat is a much larger car, and for those who need that extra space (breeders: I'm looking at you ;-), for those of you for whom a Jetta or A3 is too small, my recommendation is still to seriously consider the Passat. It's A6 quality and features at an A4 price.

Name/Blog: Jason
Title: BMW?
Comment/Excerpt: What about BMW?

Name/Blog: Khan
Title: Why Not BMW?
Comment/Excerpt: The 325ix Sport Wagon starts at $34K, with none cheaper than $30K. They get poor gas mileage (the 325ix sedan gets 20/27mpg), and the entry ticket for SMG is > $40K. The Mercedes C230 is a little bit better. Still, it hovers around $30K, and that's with no Wagon, no 4MATIC, and no SMG. One Euro-hatch/wagon that gets close is the Saab 9-3 Sentronic (SMT) wagon (22/31mpg) at just over $30K. Another is the Mini Cooper-S which can be loaded chock-full of options for $28K including "Agitronic" which might just be a fancy Tiptronic rather than SMG/SMT/DSG...

Name/Blog: Jason
Comment/Excerpt: the Japanese automakers tend to make decent vehicles. What they lack in performance and some styling, they seem to make up for in reliability, price, and fuel economy. No I am not saying go out and get a Honda Civic, or a Hyundai, or some hybrid vehicle, but maybe something that is offered from Acura? Doesn't it seem to you that the 2006 Jetta, Passat, and soon the GTI have all taken some styling from the Japanese auto makers. why? Why would they want to go to the "dark side"? While the Cooper car is fun and has tons of options for you to choose from, bottom line it is more of a hassle. The cost of ownership is crazy! Not to mention you have to drive to Fife just to get the oil change (special computer system that requires dealer reset).

Name/Blog: Khan
Title: Fife?
Comment/Excerpt: Wow you're right! Only one dealer in the area! As far as Acura, again- no DSG, less than decent gas mileage, no 4-door hatches/wagons... I also looked at Lexus, Honda and Mazda. Mostly the same story. For less than $30K, none have DSG, and surprisingly many get dismal gas mileage with few options for AWD.

Khan Klatt

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