The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Volkswagen Passat estate is one of the most refined and comfortable cars in its class and benefits from excellent economy. But, it’s not the most exciting to drive.
Reasons to buy:
- Very quiet in the cabin
- Smooth ride over most roads
- Highly efficient engines
How good does it look?
Only the roof design is carried over from the previous Volkswagen Passat, which now looks more angular than the old model. The most obvious change is the ’VW family’ horizontal grille, flanked by intricate headlight clusters. The rear lights are very different too, with a move away from red concentric circles to horizontal LED lines over dots. There are plenty of chrome exterior highlights, giving the Passat a classy demeanour. The estate arguably looks more elegant than the saloon, and comes fitted with standard roof rails. In fact, it’s expected to outsell the saloon in the UK for the first time in the Passat’s history.
What's the interior like?
The most striking new feature is a centrally mounted analogue clock, right in the middle of a metallic swathe across the dashboard. We liked it, but some may find it a little out of place. The seats, console and steering wheel are typically high quality, although we did find some harder plastics used in less obvious places around the cabin. As with all current Volkswagen’s, every control is well laid out and easy to operate.
How practical is it?
The Passat has grown only slightly in length (by 4mm) and the new estate has a 523-litre boot, fitted with chrome lashing points and bag hooks. Fold down the rear seats and space increases to more than 1,700 litres. It’s certainly large enough for most needs, and the Mondeo’s boot is only slightly bigger. The Passat is fitted with an electric handbrake as standard. Turn on its auto hold function and it will keep the car stationary in traffic without any pedals being pressed, and then release as you drive away – a great convenience feature once you get used to it.
What's it like to drive?
Extra sound deadening for the engine and thickened windows have helped make the Passat one of the quietest cars in its class. This refinement is coupled with a fine ride quality, smoothing out all but the worst bumps and pot holes. It all adds up to making the Passat good at its job of covering the long distances most of its owners are expected to drive. Driven harder, the Passat is still perfectly competent, but it lacks the involvement of the Ford Mondeo estate or BMW 3 Series Touring. Driven back to back with the saloon, the Passat estate feels every bit as agile.
How powerful is it?
While there is no high performance model of the Passat estate available, anyone with half an eye on fuel costs will be impressed. The diesel line-up includes a 1.6-litre with 104bhp and a 2-litre TDI with 138 or 168bhp, while petrol models are a 1.4-litre with 120bhp, a 1.8-litre with 158bhp and 2-litre with 207bhp, all of which are turbocharged. We tested the 2-litre TDI with 138bhp, which offered a turn of speed when needed, and remained impressively quiet and smooth, even at higher revs. While diesel engines will dominate UK sales, the 1.4-litre TSI is worth a test drive, as it’s quiet, smooth and zesty.
How much will it cost me?
All the diesel models average more than 60mpg and emit less than 139g/km of CO2, with the 1.6-litre managing 65.7mpg. This puts it ahead of the efficient BMW 318d Touring. We couldn’t quite match these figures during our test, but were still impressed by just how thrifty the Passat is. BlueMotion Technology helps, most noticeably by cutting the engine at traffic lights. The 1.4-litre petrol is economical too, averaging 47.9mpg and emitting 138g/km of CO2.
How reliable is it?
If everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen… so the old ad slogan goes. We think it will prove correct here, as the Passat estate is well built and engineered, featuring some of the best engines in the business. During our week of testing it never felt like it would let us down.
How safe is it?
As with its sturdy build quality, safety is one of the key features of the Passat. It features front, side and curtain airbags as standard as well as electronic stability programme, anti-lock braking, fatigue detection system and an option City Emergency Braking system. This is operational below 18mph and can perform an automatic emergency stop if a collision risk is detected.
How much equipment do I get?
Base-trim S models are well-equipped with air-con, remote central locking, leather multifunction steering wheel, electric front and rear windows, USB and iPod cables, and 16-inch alloy wheels. SE models feature chrome exterior trim, 17-inch alloys, comfort front seats, rear centre armrest with load-though function, Bluetooth, DAB radio, cruise control and stainless steel interior trim. There’s a Sport trim level too, with lower suspension and front sports seats. The 2-litre TSI model gets ACC adaptive chassis control for better handling. Other additions include two-zone climate control, fog lights with cornering function, touchscreen sat-nav and tyre pressure monitoring.
In many ways the Passat estate is the sensible choice if you’re in the market for a medium sized estate. It might not be as fun to drive as the equivalent Mondeo or 3 Series Touring, but it is expected to hold its value better than the Ford, and it’s more comfortable than the BMW.