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1) Doubt that your salesperson would know what the h*ll you're talking about. If you check on clubb5.com (once there, use the search for coil packs), to see the subtle visual difference. Here's the link (yeah, I started that thread on Clubb5 :-)):
But it's not that easy to do, since the engine is under a shroud, under the hood. Coil packs are covered under the warranty; I'm not worrying about it. Autoweek (on line) had an article saying the problem was limited to the 1.8T engine and to model years 2001 and 2002.
2) No idea if this applies to V-6 as well as 4. I have a 4, so I haven't really been watching for what's happening to the V-6 players. If the Autoweek article (Edmunds wouldn't let me post the link, it's too long) is to be believed, then it's only the 4 cylinder models.
3) As I said, I have the 4. It's economical, more than sufficiently powerful ( I don't pull over for anyone, if the spirit moves me), less costly than the V-6 to purchase and maintain, and has more aftermarket performance options (due to the ability to modify the engine's chip which controls the engine electronics and the turbo). Personally, the last item doesn't interest me, but it is true. I think you really need to test drive them back to back. Availability may be an issue, I didn't see that many V-6 equipped models when I shopped.
Take a visit to Clubb5.com and lurk a bit. You'll find a lot of information, a mostly friendly group, and lots of support for the Passat owner (or future owner). I hung out there for almost a year before buying our wagon.
There's also vwvortex.com, which deals with all models of VW's, not just the Passat. The Passat board is not as active as Clubb5, but still some interesting stuff.
By the way, you'll see a number of the people from here on one or both of these other sites.
$29 US plus I think $3.50 shipping.
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