As the story goes, a few guys in a garage came up with the idea of creating the sportier Passat GT. Actually, there was a little more to it than that. The guys were engineers at VW’s Planning Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and what they wanted to do was to give the Passat the kind of excitement that the GTI gave to the Golf. The GT is not as sporty as the GTI, but it’s more fun than other Passats

The first thing you notice about the GT is its sportier look.  Black trim and a black roof distinguish it from other Passats. There are also red lines on the grille, like those on the GTI, and red brake calipers as well. Ground-hugging door sills, a shapelier front bumper and 19-inch, multi-spoke “tornado” wheels complete the picture. My silver GT test car looked sharp.

Inside, the GT gets two-tone gray leatherette heated seats, with power adjusters for the driver, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a moonroof. The cabin is not luxurious, there’s a lot of hard plastic, but is well put together. The dash is uncluttered, with a small integrated touchscreen in the middle. The infotainment seems a bit dated, but it does provide Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The GT provides lots of cabin space. In fact, the legroom in the rear is almost like that in a limo. The trunk is spacious too, at nearly 16 cubic feet.

Under the hood, the VW guys took the 3.6-liter, 280 hp. V-6, available in the top-of-the-line SEL Premium model, and stuffed into the engine bay of the GT. The V-6 has plenty of muscle, and will push you to the back of your seat when you floor it. Furthermore, the revamped exhaust system delivers a marvelous growl. The engine is teamed with the six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. This gearbox delivers the goods too, with quick and smooth shifts.

When it came to adjusting the suspension, the VW engineers wanted to make it firmer than other Passat models, but not so firm that the ride would be uncomfortable. In this regard, they struck a nice balance. The shocks and springs are stiffer, and the GT rides closer to the pavement, and while it doesn’t display the sharp responses of a GTI, its engaging to drive. Furthermore, the GT absorbs bumps in the road very well, and would be great for family trips.

There aren’t many V-6 powered midsize sedans on the market now, and none priced below $30,000, except the Passat GT. It comes in just under the wire at $29,995. Included with that price is a sunroof, heated front seats, front collision warning and braking, blind-spot assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. Additionally, it gets a six-year/72,000 mile warranty. Not bad

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