As family cars go, the Volkswagen Passat is one of the classiest, most refined and comfortable, but there isn’t anything about it that will raise your pulse
The Volkswagen Passat is a high-quality family car that is something of a halfway house between family cars like the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport and executive cars, such as the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. It costs about the same as more mainstream models – especially with the carwow saving – but what sets it apart from them are the build and materials.
If there is a complaint, it’s that everything looks a bit conservative. But, the VW Passat does have a certain elegance, and if you’re into subtle understatement, this car will suit you down to the ground.
You certainly won’t have any complaint about how much room there is inside. You’ll easily fit a couple of six-footers into the front seats, and there’s plenty of room for a couple more in the back seats. Plus, thanks to the big doors, it’s really easy to get in and out.
Last, but not least, the boot is very big, too, although the Volkswagen Passat is a little hampered by its saloon body style. That means it isn’t quite as versatile as hatchback rivals, like the Mondeo and Insignia, and isn’t quite as easy to load and unload.
However, in pretty much every other way, the Passat is a very easy car to live with. Most of the controls are operated through the touchscreen, which means there aren’t many buttons on the dashboard, which is very simple and uncluttered as a result. The infotainment system, too, is one of the best, with clear graphics, nice shortcut buttons and easy-to-understand menus.
Easy is one of the first words to spring to mind when you talk about driving the Volkswagen Passat, too. It’s not as sharp as, say, a Mondeo, but it concentrates very effectively on being smooth, refined and comfortable. In that sense, it’s an enjoyable car to drive, capable of covering long distances at high speed in real comfort. However, if you’re after a more thrilling drive, a BMW 3 Series will be more your kind of thing.
I love the quality and class that ooze from every pore of the Passat, but I just wish it wasn’t so unforgivably dull to look at
Although it was launched exclusively with diesel engines, the Volkswagen Passat is now also available with a 1.5-litre petrol engine as well. However, the plug-in hybrid GTE is no longer on sale. The petrol units suit people who spend most of their time in and around town or on short runs. But, if you do a higher mileage and spend a lot of time on the motorway, one of the diesels will suit you better.
Most are available with either a manual or automatic gearbox, although the most powerful diesels come only with the DSG automatic. You can also get four-wheel drive versions, but as they come only with the most powerful engine, they’re very expensive to buy and run.
There’s also a wide range of trim levels to choose from, but even the most basic models come with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, height-adjustable front seats, DAB radio and an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen. You’ll need Volkswagen Passat SE Business to add sat-nav and adaptive cruise control, get smarter interior trim and upgrade the air-con to climate control, while R-Line models give the car a more sporty look.
Among the tempting options are leather upholstery, metallic paint and the Navigation Pro system, which also brings a larger touchscreen. You can also pay to upgrade from the standard stereo or add a variety of driver-assistance features, such as Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Trailer Assist.
Mind you, even without all the available features, the Volkswagen Passat is a safe car. Admittedly, the tests were less strict back then, but when the car was launched back in 2014, it scored a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP tests