Volkswagen Passat Estate Review
The Volkswagen Passat Estate is comfy, quiet and huge inside, but you’ll have more fun driving its alternatives if that’s more important to you
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Need a car that fits in with your suit-and-tie Monday to Friday, but also your shorts-and-t-shirt weekends? Well then, the Volkswagen Passat Estate should be on your list of options. Company car drivers love its engines, high-quality interior and comfy, quiet drive, but when the family comes first, its fantastic space is welcome too.
That’s why Volkswagen has sold 30 million Passats around the globe, and why you buy twice as many Passat Estates as Passat Saloons in the UK – which we’ve reviewed separately. It still has some tough alternatives to tempt you away, though, such as the estate versions of the Skoda Superb, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.
The Volkswagen Passat has always been conservative in design compared with some of these cars, but this latest model has had a few tweaks to keep it fresh. There’s a new grille design, front and rear bumpers, LED headlights across the range, new colours and alloy wheels and a new R-Line trim – with gloss black wheels and exterior trim. Oh, and every Passat’s badge is now centrally mounted on the boot lid. Of course.
Inside, things haven’t changed dramatically, so the Passat still looks and feels reassuringly solid, both in its design and materials. There are new trim finishes and fabrics, redesigned door cards and ambient lighting, while VW has helpfully now written Passat in large letters on the dashboard in case you’ve forgotten where you are. It’s no Audi A4 inside, but it certainly feels higher quality inside than a Skoda Superb.
Also inside is the third generation of Volkswagen’s touchscreen infotainment, while the Passat also gets the latest version of VW’s digital dials. Exact specs haven’t been confirmed yet, but the dash screen is likely to come in three sizes (6.5, 8.0 and 9.2-inch) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and they’re now constantly connected to online services, opening up a range of services on demand including the ability to control functions via your smartphone.
We’ve tried the largest-screened system, which is bright, responsive to touch, pinch and zoom and sticking in a destination is simple stuff, making it one of the best touchscreen systems available – although BMW’s iDrive is easier still to use. VW’s 11.7-inch digital dials are similarly easy to understand and you can cycle through three view layouts depending on how you like your information displayed.
The Volkswagen Passat Estate’s front seats are very comfy for kicking back and wiling away the miles on a long drive. Space in the back isn’t quite as generous as in a Skoda Superb Estate, but it’s still extremely spacious, and the VW’s softer central seat makes it better for carrying three adults side by side. It’s a similar story in the Passat’s 650-litre boot. It might not be quite as cavernous as the Skoda’s (albeit only just) but the Passat’s boot easily beats that of an estate A4, 3 Series or C-Class.
It makes you wonder why everybody wants an SUV when the Passat Estate is as good as it is. Apart from not being able to look down your nose at people, of course!
There are no less than eight engine choices for your Passat – four diesels, three petrols and a GTE plug-in hybrid. If you’re not doing many miles, VW’s 150hp 1.5-litre petrol has the best balance of power and economy, or, if you’ll be covering lots of motorway miles, then the 150hp 2.0-litre will prove a more sensible choice on the fuel economy front.
However, both private and company car buyers should consider the GTE if it pure-electric range fits in with your lifestyle. It combines a 1.4-litre petrol, 13kWh battery and electric motors, meaning that fully charged it can travel around 34 miles on electricity alone up to 80mph. When that’s done, the engine can take over, or in sporty GTE driving mode, the two will work together to provide punchy performance.
But driving the Passat quickly on country roads isn’t particularly fun. Its soft suspension and fairly slow steering make it better suited to wafting down the motorway in comfort and quiet, something made even more relaxing by VW’s optional Travel Assist that at a press of a button will accelerate, brake and steer to keep you in your lane up to 130mph.
It’s just as comfy and easy to drive in town, too, which all adds up to a thoroughly recommendable estate. The only choice to make is whether or not to prefer the slightly cheaper and even more commodious Skoda Superb. But if you do choose the Passat, then you won’t be disappointed.
If that’s you, make sure you check out our Volkswagen Passat Estate deals pages.