New Volkswagen Passat GTE Review

This practical hybrid comes in saloon or estate forms

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Practical
  • Cheap to run
  • Quality interior
  • Pricey
  • Diesel is better for long journeys
  • Not much else

£37,595 - £41,250 Price range

5 Seats

166 MPG


The Volkswagen Passat GTE is a hybrid mid-size car that can be bought as a saloon or estate. Its main rivals are the Volvo S60 plug-in hybrid, the Mercedes E350e and the BMW 340e.

The car is eligible for a government grant that knocks up to £2,500 off the list price. But that grant ends on 9 November 2018.

Remember that price can go even lower when you sign in, configure your ideal Passat GTE and get VW dealers to give you their best price.

The interior of the Passat GTE is exactly the same as in the regular Passat so it’s high quality, practical and offers excellent space for passengers and their luggage.

The Passat GTE is described by many testers as being two cars in one. It can be a zero-emission practical electric car or it can be a very capable long distance cruiser – albeit one that isn’t as economical as the diesel versions of the Passat on longer motorway drives.

It’s powered by a 1.4-litre petrol engine that’s helped by an electric motor developing 115hp. The transition between electric and petrol power is described as seamless and it is incredibly quiet in the cabin.

The hybrid Passat costs more money to buy than an equivalent diesel-powered one, but the costs of ownership are much lower, especially if you live or work in a big city, because it can drive 30 miles on electric power alone.

The Passat GTE shares the same cabin as the regular Passat and that’s a good thing, because the Passat has one of the best interiors in its class – great build quality, soft-to-the-touch materials and an overall feeling of robustness. New additions inside are the energy gauge that shows information about the hybrid system, a sporty-feeling flat-bottomed steering wheel, a different gearknob and new seat trims. The GTE can also be equipped with the impressive virtual cockpit – a large computer screen that can show the speedo dials and a giant sat-nav map in the place of the regular instruments.

Volkswagen Passat GTE passenger space

The Passat GTE offers excellent accommodation for all passengers and class-leading levels of space. There is room for three tall adults in the rear seats and space is equally impressive in the front with supportive seats hugging you in all the right places.

Volkswagen Passat GTE boot space

Despite the batteries now taking up all the boot’s underfloor cargo there is still plenty of luggage room with the estate version having 650 litres of space – almost as much as the bigger Mercedes E-Class Estate. For full specifications of the Passat interior and exterior head on over to our dimensions guide.

The addition of the batteries and electric motor means the Passat GTE weighs 350kg more than a diesel version of the Passat. The added weight is almost unnoticeable, however, because the extra weight is low in the car. This lowered centre of gravity improves the way the Passat GTE drives – critics say it is more involving than non-GTE Passats and the direct steering makes it almost enjoyable to drive – and it’s not often you can say that about a Passat!

In the city the Passat GTE can move silently on electric power and the suspension copes very well with potholes. However, testers complained about a jerky gearshift between first and second gear, but that is the only notable criticism the Passat GTE gets.

Out on the motorway the Passat GTE is very quiet, relaxed and comfortable. The 1.4-litre engine can barely be heard and the electric motor provides impressive overtaking abilities.

Powering the Passat GTE is a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 165hp and an electric motor producing another 115hp. With a combined power output of 215hp (the way electric motors and petrol engines work means you can’t just add their power figures together), the Passat GTE can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in a brisk 7.6 seconds and tops out at 140mph.

Even better is the combined fuel economy advertised by VW – 176mpg, but you would struggle to come close to that in real-world driving. It has an all-electric range of up to 31 miles at speeds of up to 81mph.

Charging the batteries takes 4 hours and 15 minutes on a regular 240V household socket and 2 hours and 30 minutes if you install the optional 360V wallbox.

The regular Passat received five stars from Euro NCAP with a respectable 87 percent score at child occupant protection. The GTE, being almost identical, we expect will be just as safe.

The GTE, like the regular Passat, is filled to the brim with safety systems such as traction control, stability control, LED headlights, blind spot alert and pedestrian monitoring systems.

The traffic assist is an optional feature that will brake, accelerate and even steer for you in traffic jams up to a speed of 25mph.

The Passat GTE’s plug-in petrol-electric technology costs a lot more than a regular Passat and for many it will be too much to make it a real alternative to a diesel-engined model.

Nevertheless, if your commute to work is around 30 miles, you can use the Passat GTE for a week without the petrol engine even firing up if you have a suitable charging spot near your workplace. Couple that to a range of government incentives and a free annual road tax bill and the GTE becomes a car to recommend. For help with picking the right shade for your new Passat you can check out our colour guide.


The Volkswagen Passat GTE combines two cars into one. On the one hand you have a cheap-to-run electric hybrid that’s free to tax and can run only on electricity, and on the other you have a practical, refined, comfortable car with space for five.

It truly is an all-rounder with space for the whole family.