Volkswagen Passat estate (2005-2011)
"The Passat Estate isn’t the most spacious model in the family estate sector, but it has a large, square boot, an easy-to-fold rear seat and a variety of punchy diesel engines."
- Large and well shaped luggage space
- Classy cabin with mostly good materials
- Strong and economical diesels
- Uninspiring looks
- Slightly harsh ride in sportier trim
- Not quite the biggest boot in the family estate class
While the Passat Estate doesn’t have the most spacious cargo area among its rivals, you’d still call it a very practical car. All the qualities that make a good estate are present and correct: a large, square boot with a big opening; a split-folding rear bench seat that easily folds flat for increased luggage space; and a useful amount of storage around the cabin. Add to that a selection of smooth and economical diesel engines to a standard specification that has all the essentials, and the Passat Estate is a desirable car.
MPG, running costs & CO2
A £250 fixed-price servicing plan is offered across the Passat range. That covers three years or 30,000-miles of servicing. All engines are relatively frugal - including the 1.4 and 1.8 TSI petrol engines - but the diesel options are by far the most prudent buys. The most popular version, the 138bhp 2.0 TDI has a good blend of effortless power and low fuel bills, returning 49.6mpg. The 1.6 TDI is more frugal still, but it doesn’t have the same pulling power if it’s serious cargo hauling you’ll be doing.
Engines, drive & performance
With steering that offers accuracy without being over-sensitive on the motorway, the Passat Estate is a great long-distance cruiser. The driving position is widely adjustable, so drivers of all shapes and sizes will be able to get comfortable. The smallest 1.4 TSI petrol engine is too weak to cope with a full load of luggage and passengers, but the remaining engines are powerful enough. They provide plenty of punch without having to be strained, and return good economy.
Interior & comfort
Standard cars offer a good balance between comfort and road holding, which means the Passat stays level around corners but still proves relaxing on rougher roads. R-Line versions are sportier, with stiffer suspension and lower profile tyres, so they tend to allow potholes to shake the cabin. However, the Passat is roomy and keeps engine and tyre noise at bay, so it’s a nice place to spend a long journey. Wind noise can become more apparent at higher speeds, however.
Practicality & boot space
Although the Ford Mondeo Estate beats it for outright luggage space, the Passat Estate is still a very practical car. It’s bigger than the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, and isn’t embarrassed by any of its rivals. Most families will find enough room here. The 513-litre boot is adequate, but with the seats folded down there’s 1,614 litres of space, all of which is easily accessible and a useful rectangular shape.
Reliability & safety
Like the saloon, the Passat Estate hasn’t suffered any major issues, apart from a 2007 recall due to a potential windscreen wiper failure. However, the car scored poorly in the 2010 Driver Power ownership survey, registering a dire 93rd overall rating for reliability. Electrical niggles seem to be the main complaint, although mechanically the Passat has proved itself sound. All of the engines are tried and tested in other VW cars.
Price, value for money & options
The Estate commands a premium of just over £1,200 compared to an equivalent Passat saloon, which is reasonable for all the extra practicality. Otherwise, the same sentiments apply here as per the saloon - so it’s not the cheapest car to buy, but that’s counterbalanced by excellent resale values and low running costs. It shares the saloon’s specification range as well, with even basic models getting alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a stereo with iPod compatibility.