The 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
You can get the Passat 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.
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
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 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 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 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.