"With added comfort and greater luxury, this is the best Volkswagen Passat yet."
The Volkswagen Passat's ability to eat up motorway miles is almost unrivalled. The suspension soaks up rough roads, while the cabin has lots of sound-deadening insulation. This means engine and road noise are barely noticeable at cruising speed. The latest Passat is near-identical under the skin to the old car, but has more efficient engines and improved comfort and luxury. All the diesels are fantastic, but the 1.6 is a bit sluggish. The top-spec 2.0-litre petrol engine is fast, yet sacrifices efficiency.
The VW Passat offers a brilliant range of engines, with all striking a good balance between pace and economy. Petrol options consist of 120bhp 1.4-litre, 158bhp 1.8-litre and 207bhp 2.0-litre engines. The diesels kick off with a 104bhp 1.6-litre, while there are 2.0-litre engines with 138bhp and 168bhp. The most powerful petrol Passat feels genuinely quick, with 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. The 1.6-litre diesel can feel sluggish, and does the same sprint in 12.2 seconds, but the pay-off is incredibly low running costs. More powerful cars are offered with a DSG automatic gearbox which is fast and smooth, and lets drivers change gear via paddles on the steering wheel. In corners, the Passat handles well but isn’t particularly fun. While the steering is crisp and responsive, it doesn’t offer much involvement.
What it lacks in driving fun the Passat makes up for in comfort and refinement. All engines are smooth, with the diesels incredibly quiet. The ride is smooth and provides relaxing motorway driving. An optional system allows drivers to tweak the suspension settings between Sport, Comfort and Normal, but the standard set-up is good. Targeted sound deadening keeps road noise to a minimum, but drivers may notice wind noise at speed.
Under the skin, the Passat is almost identical to the old model. This bodes well for reliability, as that car had a fantastic record. Safety will also be top-notch thanks to a range of airbags included as standard, along with electronic safety kit to prevent accidents. There are some novel extras, including a drowsiness detector, lane-change assist and an optional system which can brake the car in the event of an imminent collision.
The Passat is more than capable of seating four adults with room to spare, and there's also a spacious 565 litre boot. If you opt for the keyless start system, there's a clever set-up which allows you to open the boot by waving your foot under the rear bumper – useful if your hands are full with shopping.
Value for money
The new Passat is available in three versions, ranging from S to BlueMotion and Highline, with Sport models topping the range. Volkswagen has concentrated on delivering value for money, so even the most basic models come equipped with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, USB and aux-in, as well as plenty of safety equipment. Highline models get larger alloys, exterior chrome additions, a touchscreen sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, DAB stereo, Bluetooth, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, and front and rear parking sensors. Sport adds lowered suspension, a clever differential that improves handling, upgraded climate control and tinted rear glass.
The 1.6-litre diesel BlueMotion is the most efficient and cheapest Passat to run, with 109g/km CO2 emissions and a combined fuel consumption figure of 68.8mpg. But the standard 1.6 diesel is still impressive. The 168bhp diesel offers a great mix of performance and value for money, with CO2 emissions of just 120g/km and fuel economy of 61.4mpg. The petrol models are reasonably clean: the 1.4-litre TSI emits 138g/km and the 2.0 TSI 169g/km. Fuel economy ranges from 47.1mpg to 36.7mpg.