Volkswagen Passat Estate Review

The Volkswagen Passat Estate is a practical family estate with roomy back seats and a range of frugal engines. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more expensive than some alternatives

8/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Comfortable and quiet
  • Frugal engines
  • Spacious back seats

What's not so good

  • Alternatives are cheaper…
  • … and more fun to drive
  • Expensive top-spec models

What do you want to read about Volkswagen Passat Estate?

Overall verdict

The Volkswagen Passat Estate is a practical family estate with roomy back seats and a range of frugal engines. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more expensive than some alternatives

The VW Passat Estate covers all the important bases if you’re looking for a practical family estate car that’s easy to drive and cheap to run.

Okay, so its understated styling and minimalist cabin might not get your pulse racing, but everything within reach feels solid and very nearly as upmarket as in the more expensive Audi A4 Avant. You can even get the Volkswagen Passat Estate with a digital driver’s display instead of conventional dials – just like in the Audi.

Even without this futuristic screen the VW’s interior looks modern, if not particularly stylish, and its standard-fit infotainment screen is bright, crisp and easy to use. You’ll have to spend a bit extra if you want satellite navigation or smartphone mirroring features but at least the standard stereo is punchy enough for all but the most die-hard music fans in your family.

Thankfully, the Volkswagen Passat Estate’s front seats are a very comfy place to kick back and soak in some tunes. Space in the back isn’t quite as generous as in the less-expensive Skoda Superb Estate, but the VW’s softer central seat makes it better for carrying three adults side by side.

It’s a similar story in the boot. It might not be quite as cavernous as the Skoda’s but there’s space for a baby buggy and some golf clubs under the raised load cover. Need to carry even more? Flip the back seats down and the VW Passat Estate’s flat load bay is big enough to carry a bike with its wheels attached.

The VW Passat Estate is certainly practical, but it’s hardly very exciting. A bit like getting a pair of socks for Christmas when you really wanted an iPhone

Mat Watson
carwow expert

If you regularly fill your car’s boot to the brim then go for a Volkswagen Passat Estate with the punchy-yet-economical 150hp 2.0-litre diesel engine. If you spend more time driving around town then get a quieter – and cheaper – 1.4-litre petrol model.

Whichever engine you pick, the Passat Estate is a breeze to drive. It’s easy to see out of, reasonably comfortable over rough, potholed roads and even comes with parking sensors as standard. It might not be quite as fun to drive as a Mazda 6 Estate but it’s very quiet at motorway speeds and the optional automatic gearbox makes long distance drives as relaxing as possible.

You can also rest easy knowing that the Estate should be just as safe in a crash as the tough saloon model. It’s the icing on the cake for what is a spacious and surprisingly comfortable family car that’s well worth considering if a big boot is high on your list of priorities.

What's it like inside?

You can upgrade this 6.5-inch screen to a larger eight-inch unit for £750

The Volkswagen Passat Estate’s cabin looks slick and feels very solid but you’ll have to pay extra for some desirable infotainment upgrades on entry-level models

The Passat Estate’s grey and black cabin might look like a little unimaginative but it’s full of neat details and everything feels very well built

Mat Watson
carwow expert

How practical is it?

Seats are very comfy – front and rear – and a soft middle seat makes the Passat great for carrying three abreast. You won’t be left wanting in terms of boot space, either

You might feel like you’re still in the office in the Passat, but at least there’s enough space for a large conference in the rear seats

Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
650 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,780 litres

There’s plenty of room in the Volkswagen Passat Estate’s front seats for you to get comfortable – even if you’re very tall. The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach and (unlike the A4 Avant) all models come with adjustable lumbar support to help prevent you getting back ache on long journeys.

If you do lots of long journeys you’ll want to consider the optional £950 ergoComfort seat upgrade. This adds 14-way electrical adjustment with a massage and memory function – handy if you regularly lend your car to someone else much taller or shorter than you are.

Space in the back is very nearly as generous as in the front. It’s not quite on a par with the vast Skoda Superb Estate but there’s easily enough space for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver and there’s even more headroom than you get in the Audi A4 Avant.

The Volkswagen Passat Estate’s central rear seat is wider and softer than in the Superb Estate which makes it better for carrying three adults side-by-side. Unfortunately, there’s a large lump in the floor that your middle passenger will have to lift their feet over as they climb in but at least there’s plenty of space in the roomy footwells for them to stretch out once they’re on board.

It’s much easier to fit a child seat in the VW than in the Audi. Its back doors are larger and open wider and its taller roof means you don’t have to stoop down quite so far to strap in a child. Unfortunately, the Isofix anchor points for fitting a child seat are hidden behind the some removable (and therefore easy to lose) plastic caps.

The VW Passat Estate’s door bins are huge – all four are large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle alongside a second 500ml bottle each. The glovebox is just about large enough to hold a one-litre bottle and it’s ventilated to stop your cold drinks heating up on warm days.

There’s more than enough space to tuck some sunglasses in the storage cubby beside the steering wheel and there’s room to hide a camera under the folding central armrest. Annoyingly, the storage tray under the dashboard isn’t quite large enough to hold a large smartphone.

Your passengers in the back get a folding armrest with two built-in cupholders but there aren’t any USB ports for them to charge their phones with like you get in the back of the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer.

Without folding the back seats down there’s room in the Volkswagen Passat Estate’s 650-litre boot for a set of golf clubs, a large baby buggy and some soft bags all at once. It’s 145 litres larger than the Audi A4’s 505-litre load bay and only 10-litres down on the capacious Skoda Superb Estate’s boot.

Unlike in the Skoda, there’s space under the VW’s load cover to carry four suitcases and you can fold the back seats down in a three-way (40:20:40) split to carry up to two rear-seat passengers and some long luggage poking through from the boot at the same time.

Need to carry something even larger? Flip all three back seats down using easy-to-reach levers beside the boot opening and the Volkswagen Passat Estate’s load bay grows to 1,780 litres – that’s more than 250 litres larger than the Audi but still lags behind the vast 1,950-litre Skoda. There’s easily enough space for a bike with its wheels attached and the Passat Estate’s flat floor makes it a doddle to push heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.

With the standard-fit adjustable boot floor in its raised position there’s no annoying boot lip to slide heavy boxes over and there’s enough space under the floor to tuck the load cover if you need to remove it. There are also plenty of tether points and shopping hooks to stop smaller items rolling around and two cubbies on either side of the boot that are big enough to hold a few shopping bags.

Read full interior review

What's it like to drive?

Comfortable, relaxing and easy to drive

The Volkswagen Passat Estate might be a big, boxy family car but it’s dead easy to drive and quite comfortable. Don’t expect it to be fun to drive, however

Driving the Passat Estate feels like you’ve jumped behind the wheel of a much smaller car. It’s no trickier to manoeuvre around town than a Golf

Mat Watson
carwow expert

You can get the Volkswagen Passat Estate with four petrol and four diesel engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.

Pick a 150hp 1.4-litre petrol model if you spend most time driving around town. It’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds and return a claimed 54.3mpg making it faster and more frugal than the cheaper 125hp version. In normal driving conditions, however, you can expect it to manage around 45mpg while 125hp cars have to make do with approximately 40mpg.

You can also get more powerful 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol models if you’re looking for something a little faster. The 1.8-litre model returns identical claimed fuel economy to the 150hp 1.4-litre car but can accelerate from 0-62mph more than half a second quicker in 7.9 seconds. The 220hp 2.0-litre model is even faster still – it’ll complete the same sprint in less than seven seconds but it’ll struggle to return any more than 35mpg in real-world driving conditions.

If you do lots of motorway miles, you’ll want a diesel instead. The entry-level 120hp 1.6-litre model isn’t exactly fast (reaching 62mph from rest takes a leisurely 11 seconds) but it’ll return a claimed 68.9mpg. You can expect to see a figure in the high fifties in normal driving, however.

If that sounds a little sluggish you should consider a 2.0-litre diesel model instead. Even the cheapest – a 150hp model – can accelerate from 0-62mph in a more spritely 8.9 seconds and return near identical claimed fuel economy to the 1.6-litre car.

There’s also a more powerful 190hp model – that’ll be ideal if you regularly tow trailers or carry lots of passengers – and even a rapid 240hp version. The former can reach 62mph from rest in just 8.1 seconds and return claimed fuel economy of 65.7mpg while the latter has to make do with just 50.4mpg. What it lacks in economy, it claws back in speed – it’ll sprint from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds – that’s quicker than a Golf GTI.

Models with a 1.4, 1.6 or 2.0-litre engine with 150hp or less come with a manual gearbox as standard. It’s pretty easy to use and reasonably smooth around town but you’ll want to pick the optional £1,600 DSG automatic to help make long journeys and heavy traffic as relaxing as possible. Unfortunately, it can be a little jerky at very slow speeds – especially when you’re trying to park.

The Volkswagen Passat Estate’s dead easy to drive around town – its controls are just as light and easy to use as in the much smaller Golf and its large windows give you good visibility so you can spot traffic approaching at junctions.

All but entry-level S and Bluemotion models come with front and rear parking sensors and you can even get SE Business models and above with a system that’ll steer for you into bay and parallel spaces for an extra £205.

Once you’ve left the car park you’ll find the Volkswagen Passat Estate soaks up bumps and potholes impressively well around town, even in cars with the largest 19-inch alloy wheels. It’s also smooth and quiet on the motorway and you’ll hear less annoying wind and tyre noise at speed than in the Skoda Superb Estate.

You can also get an upgraded adaptive suspension system that’ll let you choose between stiffer setups and softer, more comfortable settings. Unfortunately, it costs £725 and doesn’t make the VW any more relaxing to drive or quite as fun to drive on a twisty country lane as a Mazda 6 Estate. That said, even on standard suspension the VW’s reasonably agile and doesn’t lean much in tight corners so your passengers shouldn’t feel car sick.

You’ll be much better off putting your money towards the optional adaptive cruise control. It can automatically brake to help you maintain a safe distance to other cars ahead and return to a preset speed once the road’s clear. It’s standard on SE Business cars and above and a £595 option on S and Bluemotion models.

The Volkswagen Passat Estate hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP but the saloon on which it’s based earned a five-star safety rating back in 2014. The tests have been made stricter since then however, so if safety is your number one priority you should consider paying extra for an SE Business model or above. They come with an automatic emergency braking system that’ll help stop the car as quickly as possible if it detects an obstacle in the road ahead.

Read about prices & specifications
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