The B4 Volkswagen Passat
Sandwiched between the block-ish B3 Passat and its upmarket, posh B5 successor, the 1994-1997 B4 Passat has always been a favorite of mine. I like its stance, its detailing, its “Euro-ness” and its variety of engine choices.
Fitted with the lovely 15″ 8-spoke wheels and adorned with a roof rack, the B4 Passat looks light on its feet, capable, about as mountain-goat-ish as you can get without going for a full-on SUV. The driving lights embedded in the bumper is a favorite detail, an element that echoes my old Audi 4000’s treatment in that area. The B4’s Passat’s proportions still scream “family hauler,” yet its lines have a little extra punch, a tautness that sets the car apart from its more turgid-looking peers.
The interior is all business, with VW’s then-standard dash design that placed all bells and whistles high up, within easy reach of the driver. The steering is pleasingly direct and the damping firm according to the European paradigm. A 5-speed was available with all engine options, which included the base 2.0l 4-cyl, a 1.9l turbo-diesel and the range-topping, muscular 2.8l VR6 engine. The wide variety of choices, along with the sedan and wagon bodystyles, gave the customer a full palette from which to mix and match their ideal family sedan.
No, I like the B4 Passat very much. Above all, it seems capable—a kind of car equally at home trundling to the grocery store, absorbing the daily commute, devouring some backroad twisties or taking my son and our camping gear up into the Appalachians for a few days of hiking and fishing. A companion, in other words. I like that impression from a car, even a FWD one.
Image credits: autoevolution.com, greasecar.com, cars-directory.net
Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars we think highly of, in spite of our RWD bias. Read the other installments here:
- Peugeot 205 GTI
- Lancia Fulvia Coupe
- Acura Vigor
- Mazda Millenia
- Citroën SM
- Fiat Coupé
- ’91-’96 Infiniti G20
- ’91-’94 B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R
- ’88-’92 Mazda MX-6
- Audi Coupe GT
- Volkswagen Corrado
- Peugeot 405 Mi16
- ’78-’93 Saab 900
- Volvo 850 T-5R
- 5th-generation Honda Prelude
- 1st- and 2nd-generation Volkswagen Scirocco