10k: Rare Bee5: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion 6spd

The B5.5 Passat was introduced mid-year in 2001 as a 2001.5 model year with a new look but most of the same chassis/engine/suspension it shares with the Audi A4/A6.  In the lower spec’d 1.8T form the Passat looked like a bargain version of the A4 but by the time a buyer checked off a few options the price could double and metamorphose into an uber expensive Volkswagen.  The days of  $50k Volkswagens is behind us now and depreciation has reared its ugly head, put on a horned helmet, pulled out a flamethrower, and decimated the value of the “expensive” VW…good news for savvy used cars buyers.  Find this 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion 6-spd manual for sale near Seattle, WA for $8,800 via craigslist.

Having owned and driven a B5 Passat for many years this writer can attest to the general sense of sturdiness and useability from a B5 or B5.5.  Even in its most powerful trim the Passat won’t accelerate like a E55 AMG or handle like an M3, but the W8 4Motion (VW speak for all-wheel-drive) 6-spd version makes a great case for being 3/4s of an S4 for 1/2 the price.

The W on the trunk is not a reference to the 43rd President of the US (also introduced in 2001), but it is the configuration of the 8 cylinders under the hood.  The W8 uses two VR4 (VR6 minus 2) shaped heads and a quad cam setup instead of 4 separate heads, but its compact lengthwise geometry worked well in the medium sized Passat hood.  When new the 4.0 liter W8 put out 275 horsepower and 273 ft-lbs of torque to a 6-speed manual transmission and finally into all four wheels via VW’s Torsen center differential equipped 4Motion all-wheel-drive.  Added all together this equals a 0-60mph time of 6 seconds that isn’t exactly thrilling these days, but it is two seconds quicker than anyone will suspect so it gets a sleeper badge.

In a strange twist VW offered the 6-speed manual as an upgrade to the auto and charged customers more for it and surprisingly a few actually made it off the dealer lots.  Chalk this up to the fact that while a well equipped W8 Passat cost more than $40k, the equivalent BMW 5-series, Audi A6 or Merc E-Class was a bottom of the line version. 

See a better family car with 8 cylinders and a flat crank? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com