The VW Passat B1 marked the proper front wheel revolution for its manufacturer. After the false start that was the NSU K70, the Audi 80 was moved across to the VW stable, and it turned out to be just the right car, at just the right time. The new dawn of the company Volkswagen was to become began here. And when compared to the car it replaced, the 412, the Passat was an enormous leap forward.
The smaller cars had always been VW’s biggest sellers; the Passat however offered the perfect upgrade route, as it looked and felt familiar to drive.
The EA 827 engine was a real breakthrough, it was smooth, powerful and revvy – it would remain a mainstay for VW’s midrange models for the foreseeable future. There were a huge variety of different options – it originally came in 1.3-litre 54bhp, 1.5-litre 74bhp and 84bhp versions, and from August 1975, an enlarged 1.6-litre. In July 1978, the 1.5-litre 49bhp was released, becoming one of the first medium sized oil burners in Europe.
There were also a wide selection of different body styles on offer including fastback two and four-door saloons, three and five door hatchbacks, and a five door estate – which mirrored its Audi 80 cousin. It was a little sterile compared to its competitors, but was certainly capable of entertaining. Seating was firm and solid, steering accurate, and suspension set-up firm and well-damped. On the downside, it did have a problem with rust.