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 VW Passat Estate’s cabin comes with plenty of soft, squidgy plastics on the doors and armrests while the dashboard gets some glossy plastic details and a sweeping piece of metal-effect trim.
Its cabin might not look quite as sporty as the Audi A4 Avant’s, but the VW Passat Estate’s minimalist design and neat air vents that blend into the dashboard make it feel a bit more special than a Skoda Superb Estate’s rather bland interior.
It’ll look even better if you go for an SE Business model – these get a larger eight-inch infotainment display instead of the standard 6.5-inch screen and some silver metal-effect trims on the dashboard.
Pick a GT model instead and you’ll get leather and suede-like Alcantara-trimmed seats, brushed aluminium trims and a panoramic sunroof to make its cabin feels as airy as possible.
Go for an R-Line model if you’re looking for something a bit sportier. They get a black roof lining, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, stainless steel pedal trims and R-Line logo embossed on the standard-fit leather seats.
Fancy something a little more traditional? You can even get polished pine and unvarnished olive ash wood trims for £340 and £90 respectively. They’re a bit of an acquired taste but do help the VW’s interior stand out from the rather clinical grey and black cabins you get in the Skoda and Audi.
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
Entry-level S and Bluemotion cars come with a rather small 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Its menus feature bold, colourful icons so it’s pretty easy to read at a glance as you drive along, but you can’t get it with satellite navigation or smartphone mirroring features.
Thankfully, there’s a set of large physical buttons to help you switch quickly between its key features easily so you don’t have to navigate your way through any confusing menus while you’re driving.
Step up to an SE Business model (or pay an extra £750 on S and Bluemotion cars) and you’ll get a much-improved eight-inch display with built-in sat nav. This Discover Navigation unit comes with a bigger, sharper screen and even internet connectivity so you can check the weather forecast and get live traffic updates.
Punching in a destination for the sat nav using the on-screen keyboard is a doddle and the high-resolution Google Maps are easy to read when you’re driving. They’re not quite as impressive as the full-colour satellite-imagery maps you get in an Audi A4 Avant but it’s still a breeze to follow directions.
It’s even easier if you pay an extra £550 for the Active Info Display. This 12.3-inch screen replaces conventional analogue instruments with a customisable screen that can display digital dials or full-screen sat-nav directions right in your eye line. It’s almost as sharp as the Virtual Cockpit system you can get in the Audi A4 Avant and makes you wonder why VW offers a comparatively poor head-up-display system that displays lower-resolution icons on the windscreen for a similar £505.
Sadly, smartphone mirroring Apple or Android devices will cost you an extra £165 across the Volkswagen Passat Estate range or comes as part of the £855 Discover Navigation Pro infotainment upgrade. The latter also adds voice recognition, a larger 9.2-inch touchscreen display and a 64GB hard drive for storing music.
Speaking of music, the VW’s standard eight-speaker stereo is loud and bassy enough, but you can get an upgraded 700W Dynaudio system with 10 speakers if you’re serious about sound quality. Unfortunately, it’ll set you back between £920 and £1,775 depending on which model you pick.