In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Passat saloon - Engines, drive & performance

The Volkswagen Passat is now more fun to drive and has a good range of engines

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

While the Volkswagen Passat has built up a reputation for excellent build quality, it's always been eclipsed by the excellent Ford Mondeo when it comes to driving enjoyment. Nevertheless, the latest Passat's underpinnings make it better to drive than the old model thanks to increased strength and reduced weight.

The car doesn't lean too much if you corner enthusiastically, while the steering is accurate and there's plenty of grip, although the extra weight of the GTE model causes it to feel a little less agile. No version of the Passat is terribly involving to drive, but it always feels unflappable and comfort levels are impressive too. The Passat comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. It's nice to use and most versions also offer the choice of Volkswagen's excellent DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox.

Volkswagen Passat diesel engines

The entry-level 120bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel engine is fitted with a seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard and is the slowest model in the range, managing 0-62mph in 11 seconds. Above this, the 148bhp version of the same engine is the pick of the bunch. It offers a decent amount of power while also being refined and smooth, with both the six-speed manual and DSG automatic equipped versions getting from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds. The more expensive 197bhp version is equipped with a DSG automatic gearbox, taking 7.4 seconds to get from 0-62mph.

The top-of-the-range 237bhp twin-turbo 4MOTION diesel model is no longer available. It came as standard with the DSG gearbox and offered rapid acceleration and a more flexible spread of power for effortless overtaking, going from 0-62mph took just 6.1 seconds.

Petrol engines

While Passat buyers used to be limited to diesel engines or the expensive hybrid model, VW added petrol engines to the line-up for the facelifted model. The 1.5-litre TSI with 148bhp is our pick of the range, with a blend of power and economy that gives the diesels a real run for their money. With plenty of pulling power as soon as you press the accelerator, it manages 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, and you can almost drive it like a diesel too, with early gear changes. It’s a particularly smooth engine and it’s almost impossible to tell when two of the cylinders temporarily shut down to save fuel.

Hybrid engine

The Volkswagen Passat GTE has been heavily updated for 2019, and now offers more electric range than before. A petrol-electric hybrid using a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and an electric motor, it can now travel up to 36 miles on battery power alone, while offering impressive fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures. It’s capable of 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds, with the electric motor delivering an impressive dose of acceleration when you accelerate hard. This thrust quickly dries up though and the car's performance in corners is blunted by the extra weight of the hybrid setup. Overall, it offers smoother performance than a diesel, but comes a little short of feeling as sporty as the GTE badge implies.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 TSI EVO SE 4dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £25,080

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.4 TSI PHEV GTE 4dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,440

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 BiTDI SCR 240 R Line 4MOTION 4dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £40,335

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