Volkswagen Passat W8 (2003)

Read the VW Passat test drive notes.

"While the W8 is not the most glaring example of a car that's stupidly overpowered, it's certainly one of them."
Good: drives nicely enough
Bad: grossly overpowered


Some of you folks considering a Passat may be thinking about thisparticular version, called the W8. Don't.

There's nothing awful about the car. It certainly drives nicely andall that. But it's a car that's completely unnecessary. The PassatV6 has plenty of power for a car this size. When VW shoe-hornedtheir W8 (VW's variation of a V8) engine into what is otherwise avery nice car, they just added unnecessary weight, unnecessary fuelconsumption, and unnecessary power. Oh, they also added about$9,500 to the sticker price.

What's wrong with building an overpowered car? Well, aside fromwasting your money and the planet's resources, it's going to cause asmall, select core of knuckleheaded drivers to drive too fast -- andget themselves and others injured or killed.

So, why is VW making an eight-cylinder Passat?

To understand why a manufacturer would build such an overpowered car,first remember that every manufacturer wants to make their latest carexciting and different. There are some tried and true formulas fordoing that -- for example, clever design, restyling or new desirableoptions. But if the manufacturer isn't smart enough or creativeenough to come up with those, the old standby is to add power.

We applaud manufacturers who can make cars interesting and fun,without simply making cars that can go 150 miles an hour. It doesn'ttake much effort to put a bigger engine in a car. It takes a lot ofeffort to design something new, interesting and creative, however(see Honda Element, Mini Cooper, et al).


While the W8 is not the most glaring example of a car that's stupidlyoverpowered, it's certainly one of them. VW cut their teeth on makingperfectly decent, reliable, fun, funky and affordable cars. We thinkthey'd be wise to get back to those roots. You can encourage them byignoring the W8.



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