Ownership Verified: "So why didn't you buy a PHEV?" (2018 Passat Alltrack TDI)


Very Odd Looking Vehicular Object
Mar 31, 2008
Passat Alltrack
So, my Opel Insignia Country Tourer was getting on a bit. It's the most reliable car I've ever owned and it had nothing wrong with it at all other than scratches and dents but it was still time for something new. I usually don't like staring at the same dashboard for more than 4-5 years at a time, and this time I also had this annoying thought in the back of my mind that Something Expensive™ will break at some point. The Insignia had (among other things) torque vectoring Haldex AWD, magnetic shock absorbers and a very expensive turbo setup with both turbochargers cast into the exhaust manifold. At 200.000km and 7 years of age, something has to start breaking sooner or later.

I wasn't going to buy a VAG product, but after browsing through the entire internet I decided to find myself a Passat Alltrack. It's a 2018 TDI190 and has the options I refuse to budge on: AWD, radar guided cruise, Apple CarPlay, remote controlled Webasto heater and factory retractable tow bar. It also has leather which is nice, I have had several cars with leather before but my last two have had base spec cloth. It doesn't have plates yet, because it's imported from Sweden and the dealership chain I bought it from seems to register the cars and pay the import taxes after they've sold them. I bought it from the other side of the country so it was driven to me and paid upon delivery. I'll get my plates in the mail next week. It has boring wheels in 17" which I guess is the smallest size you can fit on a car like this.

My first thoughts are good. Drivetrain NVH is a whole different ball game compared to the Insignia with its Fiat-derived diesel, but then against most things are. I was a bit worried that the stop-start system would be annoying mated to an automatic since you can't keep the engine running by holding the clutch pedal down, but it kicks the diesel back into life and gets moving faster than I can move my foot to the accelerator. The seats are comfortable, although I'll reserve final judgement until the first longer trip. It gets mega bonus points for having a reversing camera where you can see the bumper and towball.

It obviously has most modern-day driver aids, and it's already told me several times that I need to actually hold the steering wheel. What seems to happen is that it keeps itself in the lane and tricks me into believing I'm steering when in fact i'm not. I'm just sitting there with my thumb and finger on the wheel, along for the ride. I was on a deserted road last night and decided to see what would happen if I didn't obey. First it throws a message on the dash, then it dings, then it beeps, after that it does a sharp brake check to wake me up. After that it just goes ?‍♂️ and turns the aid off, forcing me to take control. I expected it to stop at the side of the road with the hazards on and a loud beep inside the cabin, but apparently not.

So why didn't I buy a PHEV or EV? Well, because reasons. I don't have anywhere to charge where I live. PHEV:s obviously don't need charging, but when you refuse to budge on AWD and want a decent tow rating your options are very slim or non-existant. I also like diesel. Always have. So diesel it is.

I've already exchanged looks with a fellow Passat B8 owner (Facelift, no Alltrack) while we were stopped at the same crosswalk going in opposite directions. This is what happens with cars like these. Those that own them know what's up, everyone else just sees a fridge on wheels.

Plans? Well, a nice discrete LED bar under the license plate is on the shopping list. I'll also yeet the dealer plate frames. I found the key for the locking lug bolts rattling around in the trunk. My first thought was to replace the stupid locking lugs and bin them, but after I found the rest of the VW OEM locking lug kit I guess I'll keep them in the spare wheel well for the next owner to not use.



Also, proof pic.
You painted your car white?
Oh, wait...
Looks good.
Somewhere in the mid 2010's production cars started to actually look like those cool "big-wheels-tiny-windows" preliminary drawings. This is one of those cars. Just a good and clean looking thing. - Congratulations. - Minus points for being a diesel of course, but plus points for being a wagon. (y)

Btw, it has aluminium looking mirrors, must be the S version. :ROFLMAO:
Looks like a great buy and a solid fit for our region. Nothing wrong with a Passat Cross Country here.
Yes, it’s purposeful and I like that. It actually also looks great in white even though I’d prefer non-grayscale.
You could slap PILS stickers on the doors and so on.
Btw, the pictures are taken at Strömsö, for good luck with the ownership I guess.
I kinda expected a BMW or Merc six cylinder, but these are solid cars. Congrats!
I have to give points to the chain I bought the car from. I don't want to make this thread a google hit, but the name is visible in one of my pictures in case anyone's interested. It's the most hassle-free car purchase I've ever experienced. It was delivered to me on the minute we agreed on and paid on the forecourt of their local branch. The contract etc showed up in my e-mail after completing payment. I signed everything on my phone using my bank ID. Their driver took my car and left and that was that.

They're also paying for a new key, programming of said key and un-programming of the lost key from the car's brain box, without making a fuss about it. I have no idea what a key costs but it's probably not cheap.

And it just showed up as registered to me on Traficom. Now I'll just have to wait for the plates to show up in the mail, probably tomorrow or wednesday.
So, plates are (still) in the mail and a Kofferraumabdeckung (luggage cover) is currently being shipped from a German eBay seller. The one that supposedly originally came with my car is most likely in in the GDPO's garage in Sweden.

My car is going to get used as an estate so I got a new rubber boot liner today, a thick and heavy plastirubber Travall one. The OEM one that came with the car is made from hard plastic made worse by what looks like half a bottle of Armor All courtesy of the detailer that made the rest of the interior look like it's never been sat in. It was impossible to drive around with my big Kamasa socket set in the trunk. Any attempt at changing speed or direction resulted in a sliding sound and a loud THUD. Can't have that.

The interior looks the business, quite literally. To use a very tired sentence: it's a very nice place to be. And of course, VAG are the masters at making switchgear and other touch points feel nice. The dome lights are as cold IRL as on the picture which is a bit unusual, but I don't dislike it. Every thing that lights up inside the car is bright white. Not yellow white.

Ignore the dirt on the floor, please.


And I wonder how many Qi enabled cell phones there are in existance that can fit on the charging pad in the cubby in front of the gear lever. My iPhone 12 certainly doesn't fit and it's not a very big phone, not even by the standards of 2017 when my car was manufactured.
Looks very tidy, just be careful you don't lose it in the snow. I had no idea VW offered fully digital dials at any point, I thought VAG had reserved that tech for Audi.

I've never seen start-stop on an auto, can you lift off the brake to restart the engine and let it creep in traffic?
I've never seen start-stop on an auto, can you lift off the brake to restart the engine and let it creep in traffic?
I've had VAG and BMW [and possibly more rentals] two-pedal stop-start, it'll shut off when you're stopped on the brakes and start itself when you lift off the brakes, depending on the setup it'll either hold until you touch the gas or immediately start creeping.
You can also restart the engine by turning the steering wheel slightly. Maybe this is dependent on power steering technology though.
Yes it starts immediately when you let go of the brake.

The digital cockpit isn’t very digital tbh. Cars with built in satnav make more use of the screen with a big map etc, but my car doesn’t have that option. I’ll have to make do with CarPlay maps in the infotainment screen like an animal. ?

My car shows a pair of big round dials at all times. You can make the centers of these two show different things like range, gear and eco stuff, and there's an area between the dials that pretty much does what a small screen between two traditional dials would. I've come to prefer the "driving aids" screen which shows a white Passat B8 estate on the "road" whenever the radar sees a car in front. :) Silly, I know.

Last edited:
You can also restart the engine by turning the steering wheel slightly. Maybe this is dependent on power steering technology though.
Based on my experience, BMW yes VW no. I guess it's a matter of preference/setup, do you want the driver to be able to use power steering while engine-off-stationary or not.
Both need the engine for the pump... the 48v "mild hybrid" / "extended stop-start" setups should be able to do power steering even with the engine off, same with turning off the engine while freewheeling.
Mine freewheels, strangely only in eco mode, but it doesn't turn the engine off. Dad's Karoq which is much the same car underneath but 150 rather than 190hp freewheels by default and I don't even know if it has driving modes.

Btw, the AIsin 6 speed in the Insignia liked to drop out of gear when stationary for more than a couple of seconds, and then back into gear again when you lifted the brake pedal. You could feel it going back into gear just like when shifting the lever into D. The Passat whacks the diesel into life and lifts the clutch faster than the Aisin trans found first gear. Pretty impressive all things considering.