Volkswagen Passat saloon
Price £22,680 - £40,180
- Upmarket interior
- Low running costs
- Plenty of space inside
- Unexciting styling
- Plug-in hybrid only petrol model
- Pricier than some rivals
At a glance
"The VW Passat is well built and very spacious, although it doesn't offer quite the same amount of driving fun as either the Ford Mondeo or the Mazda6."
This is the eighth generation of the Volkswagen Passat – a large family car that competes with models such as the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Mazda6 and Skoda Octavia. The Passat feels better built than any of its direct rivals and a high-specification Passat can be considered a true alternative to premium cars like the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series.
Passat buyers can choose between saloon and estate bodies, as well as a four-wheel-drive Alltrack model with raised suspension. Despite being smaller than the previous model, the latest Passat offers much more interior space thanks to its wheelbase (the space between the front and rear wheels) being 79mm longer compared to the car it replaces.
The Passat's styling includes a low bonnet and sleek windscreen, with an imposing four-bar chrome grille and flush-fitting headlights in line with the current Volkswagen corporate look. It’s a quietly elegant, discreet design, made classier on SE models and upwards thanks to chrome window surrounds, while the GT model is set apart by a sporty gloss-black finish to the exterior trim.
The Volkswagen Passat has an all-diesel engine line-up, apart from one model: the GTE petrol-electric plug-in-hybrid. This uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor system for claimed economy of 176.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 37 grams per kilometre. It’s worth noting that not everybody will be able to reach these figures in everyday driving, while the GTE is considerably more expensive to buy than the 2.0-litre TDI diesel. That engine offers impressive economy and a very decent turn of speed in its own right, especially in its more powerful forms.
Sitting at the very top of the range, the automatic-only twin-turbocharged 4MOTION version is extremely fast and has the handling advantages of four-wheel drive, while – if power is less of a priority – the line-up also encompasses more economical versions of the 2.0-litre diesel, as well as an entry-level 1.6-litre diesel promising 76.3mpg in BlueMotion form. Its low CO2 emissions mean it joins the Ford Mondeo ECOnetic and Skoda Superb GreenLine in being zero-rated for road tax.
Buyers can choose from S, SE Business, GT and R-line trim levels, each enjoying lots of standard equipment, with every model featuring a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which includes DAB digital radio and a Bluetooth phone connection. Overall, our pick of the range for a blend of performance and economy while remaining cost-effective is the 2.0-litre 148bhp model in SE Business trim, which comes with sat nav as standard.
The Passat is built to exacting standards, out of first-rate materials. While not the most inspiring car to drive, it puts you at ease behind the wheel and is in its element on long motorway journeys.
Fuel economy in the Passat doesn’t drop below 60mpg, but the warranty could be more generous
The Passat is now more fun to drive and has a good range of engines
The Volkswagen Passat’s interior feels a class above its direct rivals
A longer wheelbase means the new Passat offers more passenger space than the old car, and has a huge boot
Volkswagen will hope to improve the old Passat’s Driver Power performance, but safety should be excellent