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Expert Review

Volkswagen Passat Estate (2023 - ) review

The long-serving Passat is now an estate-only model and comes with a variety of hybrid powertrains.

Auto Trader

Words by: Auto Trader

Published on 19 March 2024 | 0 min read

The Auto Trader expert verdict:


Available new from £38,490

The new Passat estate majors on space, comfort and refinement, and it’s not bad to drive, either. The only hitch is a price tag that makes it more expensive than the Tiguan SUV to buy.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickLong-range plug-in hybrid
  • tickGood balance of handling and comfort
  • tickMassive boot

At a glance:

Blue 2024 Volkswagen Passat rear driving

Running costs for a Volkswagen Passat

The best choice is between the frugal mild-hybrid and the plug-in model for the best balance of running costs.
Generally speaking, it has been the preserve of diesels to deploy a 500-mile-plus driving range on a full tank of fuel, but the petrol-powered Passat 1.5 e-TSI manages to breach that barrier with ease. In fact, with a full tank, our Passat test car was showing 560 miles of available driving until the next visit to a petrol pump. That’s remarkable, and the official 51.8mpg fuel economy seems to be entirely believable. Better yet, the mild-hybrid model — using technology which allows the engine to switch off and coast for quite a lot of the time — is the basic option, meaning that this is the most affordable of the new Passat lineup. True, you’d potentially get even better all-round economy from the plug-in e-Hybrid model, for which Volkswagen’s engineers claim a realistic 62-mile electric range on a full charge of its 19kWh battery - and which might stretch to 75 miles when the official figures come in - but that’s a significantly more expensive model. Indeed, the Passat itself has become pricey, more than the equivalent new Tiguan SUV with which it shares engines and chassis. That must be weighed against the higher tax costs for this mild-hybrid and for business user-choosers, the plug-in hybrid is an easy decision from a BIK perspective. There are 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel options too, but we reckon that the best choice is between the frugal mild-hybrid and the plug-in model to balance running costs.
Expert rating: 4/5
Blue 2024 Volkswagen Passat bonnet

Reliability of a Volkswagen Passat

All of the engines are carried over from well-proven previous models
As this is a brand-new model, and even rides on an updated and upgraded ‘MQB Evo’ platform, we can’t speak with certainty about the reliability, but in the past the Passat has been one of the most reliable all-round cars you can buy. Overall cabin quality has improved even compared to the well-built previous model, and aside from the new plug-in hybrid version, all the engines and gearboxes are carried over from other well-proven Volkswagen models.
Expert rating: 4/5
Blue 2024 Volkswagen Passat side view

Safety for a Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen even bundles the autonomous braking, lane-keeping and adaptive cruise into a specific ‘NCAP Pack’.
There’s no official Euro NCAP crash test rating for the new Passat yet, but the signs are that it should get a full five stars. Standard safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, driver drowsiness monitor, road sign display, a steering system that can prevent you turning into the path of another vehicle, a rear-view camera and lane-keeping steering. Volkswagen even bundles the autonomous braking, lane-keeping and adaptive cruise into a specific ‘NCAP Pack’ which suggests that it’s well on the way to an impressive safety score.
Expert rating: 4/5
Blue 2024 Volkswagen Passat boot space

How comfortable is the Volkswagen Passat

The new front seats are approved of by the Aktion Gesunder Ruken, or the German Bad Back Association.
Traditionally, the Passat has always been a car which has prioritised comfort over pin-sharp handling, and that hasn’t changed with this model. The new front seats — approved of by the Aktion Gesunder Ruken, or the German Bad Back Association — are exceptionally comfortable and supportive and should make long journeys painless. There’s an extra 50mm of rear legroom compared to the previous Passat, so rear legroom and headroom are generous, even if you’re carrying four tall adults. The fact that the gear selector (all Passats now come with an automatic DSG gearbox as standard) has been moved to the steering column means that there’s plenty of storage space in the centre console, too. The boot in the e-TSI mild hybrid model stretches to a whopping 690 litres up to the luggage cover, and 1,920 litres with the back seats folded down, which is more spacious than the taller Tiguan, making this Passat one of the most practical and useful cars you can buy. It’s worth noting, though, that e-Hybrid plug-in versions have a smaller, 510-litre boot. Ride comfort is exceptionally good too, with the Passat easily soaking up urban lumps and bumps, and the optional DCC Pro adaptive suspension is a useful, if expensive, addition that keeps the body level in fast cornering but still allows the dampers to soak up any mid-corner surface imperfections. Refinement is good too, despite the noise-amplifying effect of the estate body, and Volkswagen has managed to quell the tyre noise that blighted previous versions.
Expert rating: 4/5
Blue 2024 Volkswagen Passat interior

Features of the Volkswagen Passat

The infotainment system has been taken back to its basics and essentially started from scratch to create a new one.
The first thing you’ll notice in the cabin of the new Passat is the massive touchscreen. That’s especially so if the car is fitted with the optional new 15-inch screen, but even the standard 12.9-inch version is large. It’s also impressive, as Volkswagen’s software engineers — having heard little but complaints about their more recent efforts — have taken the infotainment system back to its basics and essentially started from scratch to create a new one. It works well, too. Any complex touchscreen is going to take a while to get your head around, but this one has simpler menu layouts, and the addition of a customisable bar of shortcut icons at the top of the screen makes things much simpler. At the base of the screen, the heating and air conditioning controls are now ‘always-on’ which is a much better solution, while the — still fiddly — ‘slider’ controls underneath the screen, which control cabin temperature and the stereo volume, are now at last back-lit at night. The 10.25-inch driver’s digital instrument screen is also clear and simple to read, although some of the background colour choices look a bit cheesy. Then there’s the AI assistant. As with other Volkswagen models (including the new Tiguan and the updated Golf) the ‘IDA’ digital voice assistant now comes with ChatGPT artificial intelligence built in. This system uses two separate lanes — a VW-specific voice assistant for controlling the car’s functions and a ChatGPT one for asking non-car-related questions. You can ask it to make up a story for your kids, for example, or give you a guided tour of a town through which you’re driving. The system is still awkward to use, and its responses are delivered through a distinctly, even unpleasantly, robotic voice. We also didn’t find it any better at controlling the car’s systems than we could with our own hands and fingers, while the ChatGPT responses were very often of the “I’m sorry, I haven’t yet learned that” variety. Other tech includes a parking system that memorises frequently-used manoeuvres and which can be controlled from outside the car via a mobile phone.
Expert rating: 4/5
Blue 2024 Volkswagen Passat front driving

Power for a Volkswagen Passat

This new Passat is definitely one of the more satisfying cars in the VW lineup to drive.
You can have a new Passat with much more power than the 150 horsepower deployed by the 1.5 e-TSI model. In fact, the most powerful e-Hybrid plug-in model has more than 270 horsepower. For all that, the humble basic version is still probably the pick of the Passats — sure, it’s not massively powerful, but neither does it ever feel especially slow. This Passat also feels genuinely eager and engaging on a twisty road, even if that’s something which few customers — who will mostly use this car to pound up and down the motorway — will care much about. The steering is slightly heavier than expected, and while it’s not bursting with feedback it does make the Passat feel agile for a car nudging up to five metres long. The optional DCC Pro suspension helps, tightening up the chassis responses in Sport mode, but never to the point where the Passat starts to feel too stiff or uncomfortable. It’s not a sports car with a big boot or anything, but this new Passat is one of the more satisfying cars in the VW lineup to drive.
Expert rating: 4/5