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The Rise and Fall of VW’s Radical W8 and W12 Engines, Explained

But the first signs of trouble appeared in 2004 when, following years of underwhelming sales, the W8 Passat bit the dust. Though criticized for its uninspired performance relative to its rivals, the Passat W8 had a far more significant flaw: Its complexity made it nightmarishly expensive to maintain. The Drive‘s Executive Editor Jonathon Klein learned this the hard way during a brief, eight-month ownership of one of these cars.

“When I purchased the car, it worked fine until it didn’t a week later. I did an inspection, but the dealership which sold it to me cleared a bunch of the engine codes that would’ve told me I was buying a basketcase. According to my mechanic at the time, a trusted family friend, not only had the wiring been spliced together by what looked like a thumbless ape, but it ate spark plugs like they were Pringles, and worst yet, the number eight cylinder was donezo. And, because of VW’s manufacturing process of the engine, the cylinder couldn’t be rerung by anyone other than the factory. And I got quoted on what a new engine, without labor, would’ve cost. $22,000. They did try to fix it, though.”


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