When you think ‘Volkswagen’, there are a number of concepts that spring to mind. Inevitably, the Golf GTI and Golf R are first among them. Logically, the Scirocco follows on from those, closely related as they are. Then, perhaps, the Beetle, followed by the Touareg, and then its more compact sibling, the Tiguan, as SUVs are always a big seller in the Gulf. You would also think very good German quality that borders on ‘premium’, but as a result you also think ‘slightly pricey’.

At what point, then, would you think of the Passat? Would you think of it more if I told you that you can get a mid-sized sedan with that great German quality and build for as little as BD8,800? And that for this price it would also come with remote central locking, front centre armrest, cruise control, an infotainment system with CD, SD-card reader, AUX-in and USB Bluetooth connectivity for phones and devices, and front and rear parking sensors?

When you take all this into account the Passat starts to look like a seriously good deal. If you take the base-spec model, don’t fret that you’re sacrificing performance, because all of the trim levels, from the S right up to the R-Line, boast the same engine, drivetrain and chassis, which would be VW’s 170hp 2.5l inline-five-cylinder engine, mated to the six-speed tiptronic gearbox, which boasts a 0-100km/h time of 9.2 seconds. While this performance isn’t going to light up any tarmac, the power delivery is smooth and constant, and the gear changes quick and seamless, and you’ll never complain about the fuel consumption!

More importantly, all the trim levels also boast exactly the same safety package, which includes fully surrounding curtain airbags front and rear, electronic stability control, antislip regulation, electronic diff-lock, engine brake-assist and intelligent crash response system, as well as the usual ABS and EBD. This makes it one of the safest family sedans you can buy for this money on the market today.

The SPORT trim-level we drove adds somewhat to the price, going for around BD12,100. However, it also adds a sunroof, nice 18-inch alloys, leather front  sports seats, keyless entry with push button start-stop system and easyopen boot lid (the one that opens with a swipe of your foot underneath the car), and sat-nav. It also adds the excellent Fender premium audio system.

As with any Volkswagen, the excellent quality is apparent throughout the car. The interior is stylish and everything feels solidly built. The ride is smooth and extremely quiet, and the car feels poised and agile on the road, thanks to all those safety systems. A real bonus was the air conditioning, which is something European cars can sometimes be known to struggle with, but in the Passat it was easily powerful enough to keep your drinks cold in the middle of summer! In the face of stiff competition from Asian manufacturers increasingly offering more features for less, Volkswagen has responded strongly with the Passat. For these prices, it’s an absolute bargain!