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In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Passat Estate review - conservative, but hugely practical

“It’s more conservative than the ID.7 Tourer, but the Passat Estate offers masses of space and a comfy driving experience”

Volkswagen Passat Estate
Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Price
£38,500 - £51,750

Pros

  • Class-topping boot space
  • Comfortable
  • Well-equipped

Cons

  • Some fiddly controls
  • Slightly dull styling
  • No diesels for towing

Verdict - Is the Volkswagen Passat Estate a good car?

It might not be the most innovative new car, but the VW Passat Estate has improved in the areas necessary to keep it competitive. Alongside the co-developed Skoda Superb Estate, it has a class-leading boot and acres of legroom for rear passengers. It also fulfils its brief of being a smooth and quiet cruiser for long motorway trips, and the plug-in hybrid has a much better electric-only range. The downsides are its somewhat fiddly interior controls and styling some buyers may find a bit too conservative.

Volkswagen Passat Estate models, specs and alternatives

The Volkswagen Passat Estate has been around for decades, offering customers a nice compromise between an executive car and a practical family wagon. That it’s now exclusively offered as an Estate shows how much the market has changed. Buyers have mostly deserted saloons in favour of trendy SUVs and an estate is deemed to be the more palatable alternative for those used to SUV practicality. It also represents a slimmed-down approach for Volkswagen, as its vast resources are mostly focused on its all-electric ID line-up. In fact, Skoda was charged with developing this generation of VW Passat alongside its Skoda Superb sister model.

Best estate cars 2024Top 10 best estate cars 2024

Costing from around £38,000, the ninth-generation Volkswagen Passat has been pushed upmarket somewhat to meet rivals like the BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant and Mercedes C-Class Estate. All offer a slightly different flavour, with the BMW being famously sporty, the Audi benefitting from a sharp design and the Mercedes boasting impressive comfort and tech. A more mainstream rival is the Peugeot 508 SW, which is stylish but has a low roofline that impacts on rear space for passengers.

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The Passat’s engine line-up is fairly conventional, with most buyers likely to be well catered for by the 1.5-litre eTSI mild hybrid that offers decent performance and fuel efficiency, with more potent 2.0-litre petrol expected later. Then there’s the plug-in hybrids, which boast a much bigger 19.7kWh battery this time around, for an enticing 62-mile EV range before the petrol engine wakes up, and lower emissions to appeal to the company car crowd. The drawback is a higher price tag, well above the entry-level Passat model.

A 50mm longer stretch between the front and rear wheels in this Passat adds up to even more room for occupants and a generous 690-litre (1,920 litres seats folded) boot, so there should be few times the Passat Estate will leave you wanting for volume. There are some big changes inside too, most notably a digital-first interior dominated by two large screens, with physical buttons you can count using your fingers. 

Trim levels stick close to other models in the range like the Volkswagen Golf, kicking off with Life trim that’ll suit most families, then there’s Elegance with some sophisticated exterior styling changes. The top R-Line is the sportiest of the trio, with a widened black mesh grille and five-spoke alloy wheels. 

Trim levels

Power options

  • Life
  • Elegance
  • R-Line
  • 1.5 eTSI 148bhp
  • 1.5 eHybrid 201bhp
  • 1.5 eHybrid 268bhp

Volkswagen Passat Estate alternatives

The executive estate market hasn’t gone the way of the Dodo just yet, but only the strongest contenders have survived. The Passat Estate arguably faces the most competition from the plethora of mid-size SUVs flooding the market.

Estates

It’s a tricky business selling a mainstream estate nowadays, especially when most rivals come from esteemed brands like BMW and Mercedes. The VW combats this with oodles of boot space and practical features, but you can also get those in the Skoda Superb.

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Mid-size SUVs

If your priorities are comfort, fashionable looks and plenty of interior space, you will almost certainly consider a mid-size SUV by default. A low-slung estate can be more fun to drive and economical, though.

Should you buy a Volkswagen Passat Estate?

If you don’t want an SUV, but love having a boot the size of an aircraft carrier, then the latest Passat Estate represents a solid pick. While on paper it rivals the premium German estates, the Volkswagen feels rather more skewed towards practicality than the BMW 3 Series Touring in particular.

Instead, the biggest rival to the Volkswagen is the Skoda Superb that’s been designed by the same team. We’ll know more about which wins in an outright comparison when we get behind the wheel of the Superb in the coming months, but for now, your order is likely to come down to pricing and which design and trim levels appeal most. 

One area you could be swayed between the Passat and Superb is their interior design, because while VW has reverted to using more intuitive physical buttons for the Passat’s steering wheel, there’s still a touch slider for its climate controls. In contrast, the Superb gets the chunky dials our testers much prefer using once on the road. Still, we found the 15-inch central touchscreen shared with the Volkswagen ID.7 to be responsive and easy to navigate.

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Excellent sound insulation in the Elegance trim we’ve tested over a variety of roads meant it was almost as quiet as its Volkswagen ID.7 electric counterpart, and we found its chassis worked best for relaxed and comfortable driving. This should make it ideal for long jaunts, which has been a Passat staple for years. 

What is the best Volkswagen Passat Estate for low running costs?

While official economy figures are still being wrapped up, you’ll want to plump for the plug-in hybrid Passat to drill down running costs, especially if you’re a business driver. With a pretty large battery, it can cover off most commutes without troubling the petrol engine, so most drivers will stand to save a considerable amount on fuel costs. Its CO2 emissions should also be low enough to secure its position in a lower Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band than petrol or diesel rivals.

What is the best Volkswagen Passat Estate for families?

The Passat Estate gets a good engine and level of kit from the off, so we reckon the entry-level Life trim and 1.5-litre eTSI engine is the most sensible choice for family buyers. It serves up decent performance and middle-of-the-road economy figures, all for less than the crucial price of £40,000 that triggers a VED (road tax) surcharge.

What is the Carbuyer pick of the Volkswagen Passat Estate range?

If the extra cost and smaller 510-litre boot capacity isn’t a deal-breaker for you, we’d go with the plug-in hybrid Passat. While the brand is launching an all-electric Volkswagen ID.7 Tourer, for many people, the idea of having the Passat PHEV’s 62-mile EV range along with the backup of a petrol engine will be very appealing. 

How we tested the Volkswagen Passat Estate 

So far we’ve driven the Passat Estate at its launch event in Nice, France. It was tested over a variety of narrow country lanes and on flat motorways, most of which were quite a bit smoother than commonly found in the UK.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 TSI Life 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £38,500

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 TSI eHybrid Life 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £44,090

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 TSI Life 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £38,500

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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