Volkswagen Passat Estate (2005 - 2011) review
Read the Volkswagen Passat estate (2005 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 4.0 Classy and practical estate car with a wide range of engines and equipment. It’s arguably more desirable than the saloon, however its replacement is due soon.
- Very practical
- Attractive design inside and out
- Wide range of engines
- Due to be replaced soon
- Well-equipped versions are expensive
- Rear legroom isn’t the best
At a glance
VW’s claim “the minute you set eyes on the Passat, your heart will beat faster” might be over-egging it a bit but the German manufacturer’s medium-sized car has some nice touches which set off its imposing presence. The sixth incarnation of the saloon which made its debut in 1973 is longer, wider and taller than the model it replaced and borrows styling cues first introduced for the luxury VW Phaeton, including LED tail lights a chrome-plated radiator grille and a more contemporary coupe style appearance.
The first thing which catches your eye is the absence of a traditional hand brake. Instead the Passat features a dashboard-mounted electronic parking brake which complements an uncluttered instrument panel and minimalist central console. This simplifies the area between the driver and front passenger so only the gears and generous storage area sit between. The leather-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel and gear knob have a good quality feel while the pale roof lining gives the car a light feel.
The Passat estate has an accommodating 513 litres of boot space and this grows to more than 1,600 litres with the rear seats folded down. It’s a usefully flat and wide boot, with minimal intrusions. Roof bars are standard, adding to the cars styling, and making it easier to fit roof top carriers for bikes and luggage boxes.
Ride and handling
The new Passat’s body is 57 per cent stiffer than the outgoing model’s – and it is responsive while coping well with corners. Buying a Passat delivers a good driving experience while owners will still enjoy a high quality ride which is comfortable and quiet.
We drove the 2-litre BlueMotion diesel model with 103bhp. However, buyers can choose from an extensive range which boasts plenty of choice for petrol and diesel fans alike, It starts with a 1.4-litre TSI with 121bhp, then there’s a 1.8-litre TSI with 158bhp and finally a 3.6-litre R36 model which slashes the 0-62mph time to 5.8 seconds and raises the top speed to 153 mph. There are two diesel engines – a 1.6 and 2-litre – with power ranging from 109 to 168bhp depending on trim level.
The model we drove returns a frugal average 42.2 mpg and with a low insurance group and economical tax banding VW have done a good job of keeping the Passat’s motoring costs down. Obviously, choosing a different version will see costs swing up or down with the 1.6-litre diesel BlueMotion model emitting just 114g/km of CO2, sinking to 227g/km for the 3.6-litre model. Volkswagen in general and the Passat in particular have a good reputation and hold their value well. Models come with a three year warranty, servicing varies according to use, while buyers will benefit from a year’s recovery assistance.
Once again both Volkswagen’s overall reputation for reliability and the Passat’s in particular are borne out by the Reliability Index which reveals the model has few problems, they are usually cheap to repair and do not occur until the car has clocked upwards of 60,000 miles.
The Passat’s stiff body combined with six airbags plus a huge array of safety features under the umbrella of anti-lock braking systems and electronic stability programme adds up to the maximum five stars from EuroNCAP after its crash testing. Good stuff.
The Passat is available with the trim levels S, Highline, Highline Plus, R Line and BlueMotion. S is the entry-level version, while the two Highline editions improve comfort and convenience, the R Line edition adds a sporting flavour and BlueMotion models are focussed on getting the best possible fuel economy and lowest CO2 emissions.
The Passat boasts many good qualities. It’s good to drive, good to travel in. quiet and safe too. But during our week with the car we were particularly impressed with its space and storage capabilities – especially that whopping great boot. The Passat is a sensible saloon which isn’t boring. As it’s due to be replaced soon, there are also some great deals available on new Passats.