VW Passat R36: Buyers Guide

By: Joe Kenwright

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VW Passat R36 VW Passat R36 VW Passat R36

Volkswagen Passat R36. Joe Kenwright walks us through the tricks and potential traps

VW Passat R36: Buyers Guide
VW Passat R36


VW Passat R36


The August 2008 launch of VW's Passat R36 presented the best of the Golf R32 and Touareg R50 in a compact daily driver that catered for both family and pleasure. An immediate hit with Australian buyers, 1740 were sold before production ended late in 2010.

Wagons accounted for two out of three sales - suggesting the R36's blend of AWD purchase, strong performance, exclusivity and practicality hit the spot, even if the ride and ground clearance didn't suit all local road conditions.

Its direct-injection 3.6-litre V6 from VW's narrow-angle, high-torque VR6 family delivers a towering 220kW/350Nm, but only on 98RON fuel. Although the beefy torque cuts revs and fuel use while cruising, accessing the sub-six-second 0-100km/h capability will cost at the pump. Standard six-speed DSG and 4Motion make the performance more accessible than most, with the capable AWD system less front-drive biased than in other VWs.

Easily-spotted external upgrades such as brushed-metal brightwork and specific grille, a bodykit, dual chrome exhausts, unique 18-inch alloys, wheelarch extensions and other additions ensure the R36 won't be confused with other Passats.

Extensive cabin upgrades including superb sports seats, a sports wheel, pedal and trim highlights - all suitably monogrammed as 'R' items - maintain exclusivity. Almost a muscle car with a big-capacity, linear response, high-compression petrol engine and a satisfying growl, the all-wheel-drive R36 offers an unusual blend of the old and new.


Prices start at around $40,000, with the wagon commanding a premium. A reduction in new price in 2010 ensures that even the best of the last pull up at around $55,000.


  • Front and side body additions are vulnerable to scraping. Check the special finish on all R36 body parts, including the black tail panel.

  • Because most examples should still be under warranty, service history is critical. Warranty on low-mileage examples can be void if services have not met the specified 12-month time interval. Enthusiast owners tend to get them checked every six months.

  • Passats from this era were recalled to replace a faulty battery cable. A complex and costly job involving removal of the fuel tank, make sure it has been corrected.
  • Check for uneven tyre wear.

  • The combination of high performance and expensive tyres dictates rotation and a four-wheel alignment at every service.

  • Wiring for tow bar can interfere with vehicle warning lights and other electronic systems. Tow bar wiring can require connection to the vehicle's front control unit.

  • The ground-breaking DSG dual-clutch transmission was further refined for the R36 but is still a manual system programmed to behave like an auto. Normally reliable, the control unit on some examples malfunctions with incorrect or unusual shift patterns.
  • All cabin electronics need to be carefully checked including the complex 12-way seating adjustment, 10-speaker sound system, parking sensor system and climate-control operation.



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