There’s something about a fast wagon that strikes a chord with auto enthusiasts that the rest of world can’t seem to understand. They see a station wagon that has a bigger appetite for fuel and higher price tag, while we see the ultimate machine to haul groceries, take on a technical backroad, and then fly under the radar. Although fast wagons may not generate the sales they deserve, car companies bravely build and sell them to the general public. Even though they know most of the potential customers are waiting for them to enter the used market after depreciate has taken its toll. One such car is the Passat W8, a wagon that came with half a Veyron engine and an exhaust note worthy of a supercar.
With only quad exhaust tips and some W8 badges, it’s hard to distinguish the W8 from its lesser siblings. However, the Passat W8 which, came in sedan and wagon body style, isn’t about a shouty exterior and focuses more on the engineering that lies beneath the skin. The Passat W8 had VW’s 4-Motion all wheel drive system and used VW’s W8 engine which was built specifically to fit inside the Passat’s cramp engine bay. This complex engine combined two narrow-angle VR4 engines mounted at 72 degrees to each other and coupled to one crankshaft.
This engine was meant to be the test bed for VWs new W engine line which, would spawn the W12 used in Bentleys and W16 used in the Bugatti Veyron. The over engineered setup allowed the W8 to provide the power of a V8 while fitting in an engine bay designed for a V6. Although the W8 engine has its faults, this is the only production application of the W8 engine ever making this an odd piece of VW history.
In addition to the W8 engine, the Passat W8 had a host of luxury features that rivaled the Audis of the day. This luxury cruiser could haul your entire family while hauling ass on the Autobahn or whatever highway you frequent. Customers could have the car with a traditional torque converter auto or a 6-speed manual needless to say, few manuals were purchased. There are a claimed 10 W8 wagons with a manual making them very difficult to find these days.
Although this wagon may be interesting enough to separate you from the pack its performance wasn’t exactly earth shattering. That insane 4.0 liter W8 engine only produced 270 horsepower good for a 0-60 time of only 6.8 seconds. Although this car doesn’t have earth shattering performance its goal wasn’t to outperform sports cars but, rather offer a comfortable cruiser that had power at any rpm. When it was new, the Passat W8 sold for $40,000 making this the most expensive VW product until Phaeton was released.
The Passat W8 is an interesting car that never really caught on with the general public. Its high price tag and the increased cost to maintain alienated numerous potential customers who didn’t realize what an engineering gem this car is. Its performance was never enough to gain the attention it deserved, and its badge didn’t have the luxury cache get the attention of distinguished customers. The Passat W8 was a sales flop when it debuted but today we can appreciate this weird engineering gem.