Volkswagen Passat saloon
“The Volkswagen Passat has a quality feel and offers lots of space, but the Mazda6 is better to drive”
- Plenty of space inside
- Low running costs
- Upmarket interior
- Unexciting styling
- Pricier than some rivals
- Plug-in hybrid expensive
The Volkswagen Passat is now in its eighth generation, so the German manufacturer has certainly had plenty of time to perfect it and the latest version was heavily updated in 2019. Times have changed, though, and sales in this market sector aren't as strong as they once were – rivals like the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, Mazda6 and Skoda Superb are all facing pressure from executive models like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.
When buying a Passat, there’s certainly no shortage of choice, with a saloon and estate model and a host of engines and trim levels, including a plug-in hybrid model. The Passat is actually shorter than the previous model, but more space between the front and rear wheels means there’s more interior room for passengers.
It might feel like a relatively conservative choice, but the Passat looks modern and somewhat imposing thanks to its low and wide bonnet, four-bar chrome grille and purposeful headlights, which now consist of powerful LEDs across the range. The Passat’s face is shared with the rest of the VW range, but it works particularly well here, giving the car a classy look. SEL models look slightly more expensive thanks to chrome embellishments and tinted windows, while the R-Line gets a sporty styling makeover.
When it was launched, the Passat was sold only with diesel engines, but now there's a 1.5-litre petrol with 148bhp and a 2.0-litre petrol engine. The plug-in hybrid GTE and GTE Advance models are also available, combining a 1.4-litre petrol with an electric motor and battery pack for an official fuel-economy figures of 217.3 to 235.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 28-30g/km. It’s worth noting that these figures will be almost impossible to match in real life but it’ll still be one of the most economical models for many drivers. The GTE trim is considerably more expensive to buy than the 2.0-litre TDI diesel, which is capable of impressive fuel economy and a very decent turn of speed in its own right, especially in its more powerful forms.
A range-topping 268bhp twin-turbocharged petrol model will join the Passat saloon line-up soon. This flagship model will be capable of 0-62mph in under six seconds and will only be offered with an automatic gearbox and 4MOTION four-wheel-drive. If power is less of a priority, the line-up will also encompass more economical versions of the 2.0-litre diesel, as well as an entry-level 1.6-litre diesel promising impressively low fuel consumption.
Buyers can currently choose from SE, SE Nav, SEL, R-line along with two plug-in-hybrid models, GTE and GTE Advance. Every model features a touchscreen infotainment system, which includes DAB radio, a Bluetooth phone connection, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Overall, our pick of the range for a blend of performance and economy while remaining cost-effective is the 2.0-litre 148bhp EVO diesel model in SE trim, particularly if you're a company-car driver. For private customers, the 1.5-litre 148bhp petrol is a great option, returning around 45mpg thanks to its cylinder-deactivation technology.
The Passat was the winner of the Best In-Car Connectivity award for cars costing more than £25,000 at the Car Tech Awards 2016. It features USB, AV and twin SD sockets, plus Apple and Android connectivity, and allows you to control messaging, media and navigation apps using Siri and Google Now voice recognition. It also won the Best Sat Nav award for cars costing more than £25,000, and was highly commended in the Most user-friendly tech category.
The Passat is built to exacting standards, out of first-rate materials. The Volkswagen Passat range finished 54th out of the 75 cars ranked last year, but failed to feature in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Safety is also guaranteed thanks to a five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP.
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.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.5 TSI EVO SE 4dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name1.4 TSI PHEV GTE 4dr DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto
- Name2.0 BiTDI SCR 240 R Line 4MOTION 4dr DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto