Volkswagen Passat Estate review
"The Volkswagen Passat Estate is a consummate all-rounder. Refined, relaxing and with an upmarket interior, it also manages to be hugely practical"
- Classy, high-quality interior
- Understated style
- Massive boot
- Range-toppers expensive
- Not all safety kit is standard
- Hybrid is pricey
The four-door Volkswagen Passat is among the classiest mid-size saloons you can buy, and the estate version is ideal if you want a little more load-carrying flexibility. Its upmarket image means the Passat Estate occupies a middle ground between the mainstream Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer estates, while offering better value for money than the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring or Mercedes C-Class Estate.
Its biggest sales competition comes from close to home, though, in the shape of the Skoda Superb Estate. This is a rival from within the VW empire, which actually shares much of its technology with the Passat, all wrapped up in an even larger, better equipped and cheaper package than the Volkswagen. However, the Passat is liable to hold its value better than the Skoda, which is good news when it comes time to sell.
Fresh for 2019 is the facelifted Volkswagen Passat, which constitutes such a thorough overhaul that many have dubbed it the 'mk8.5'. It doesn't look wildly different, with redesigned bumpers and LED lights the main exterior differences, but bigger changes inside included semi-autonomous driving aids and the option of digital instruments, along with a number of mechanical changes.
Diesel engines have always been popular in the Passat, but the range isn't what it once was. The old 118bhp 1.6-litre TDI diesel has been ditched; options are limited to a trio of 2.0-litre TDIs, with 120bhp, 148bhp, or 197bhp. The range-topping 237bhp 2.0-litre with two turbochargers and four-wheel drive has also been ditched.
There’s currently one conventional petrol option available in the Passat, which is the 1.5-litre TSI EVO. Delivering 148bhp, it uses cylinder deactivation technology to return up to 44.8mpg. There's also a revised Passat GTE, a petrol plug-in hybrid that now offers an electric driving range of up to 38 miles.
Our favourite all-rounder is the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which has plenty of power and can return as much as 53.3mpg. It has a 29% Benefit-in-Kind rating for company-car users on the SE Nav and SEL, and 30% on R-Line. It’s such an efficient performer that it begs the question as to why you’d settle for the far less powerful version, which returns the same fuel economy and sits in the same company-car tax bracket.
The Passat Estate can be chosen in SE Nav, SEL and R-Line trim levels; previous S, SE Business and GT trims have been dropped. Our favourite is the cheapest SE Nav, as it comes with sat nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, adaptive cruise control, and front and rear parking sensors, along with supportive ‘ergoComfort’ front seats. Pair this trim level with either the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol or the equally powerful 2.0-litre diesel, and the Passat is a highly accomplished family car. Company-car drivers may prefer the GTE, as its low CO2 emissions result in low 11% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) payments.
Euro NCAP awarded the Passat the full five stars in crash-testing, but it’s worth noting that Front Assist, which includes the ability to automatically perform an emergency stop if a collision is deemed imminent, wasn’t standard on the old S and BlueMotion trims. All new Passats get this tech, as well as PreCrash, which rapidly closes any open windows (including the sunroof), tightens seatbelts and prepares the brakes if a crash is imminent.
The Volkswagen Passat range finished a disappointing 53rd in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, which ranked the top 100 cars in the UK. It didn't feature at all in the more recent 2020 survey.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.5 TSI EVO SE 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name1.4 TSI PHEV GTE 5dr DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto
- Name2.0 TSI 272 R Line 4MOTION 5dr DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto