Volkswagen was up to some strange stuff in the early 2000s. With full-size 12-cylinder luxury sedans and 10-cylinder turbodiesel luxury SUVs rolling off the company’s production lines in Europe, to say that VW was trying new things would be an understatement, and rumor had it that VW’s upper management suddenly decided that it wanted to become a direct competitor to Mercedes-Benz.
The first sign of senility emanating from the walls of VW’s corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, was the vehicle you see here — the B5.5 Passat W8, which was introduced for the 2002 model year and meant to compete with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5 Series. As you might’ve guessed by the name, the Passat W8 came with eight cylinders crammed under its hood, essentially two 2.0-liter V4 engines mounted side by side and sharing a common crankshaft. Output was 270 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system came standard. The Volkswagen Passat W8 proved somewhat more successful in Europe than it was in the U.S., as Americans associate the VW brand more with the mechanically simplistic Beetle and Vanagon than we do luxury sedans from BMW and Mercedes.
Historically, nobody at VW has seemed to care much about long-term reliability, and maintaining a Volkswagen Passat W8 quickly proved to be nothing short of a nightmare, and as a result, the Passat W8 is a rare sight on the road today. This isn’t aided by the fact that just 4,931 were offered in the U.S. between the 2002 and 2004 model years. On top of that, only 329 were equipped with a manual transmission (95 of these were wagons, making the manual Passat W8 wagon the rarest of them all). This manual transmission-equipped Passat W8 sedan comes with 134,000 miles on the odometer, but the seller states that it’s got a new engine with 3,000 miles on it and a new clutch. The asking price is $10,900, and though any enthusiast will be tempted by the thought of owning one of the rarest and most bizarre midsize sedans out there, it would be good to leave some budget left over for the maintenance issues that are still likely to arise. Find a Volkswagen Passat for sale
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