Volkswagen Passat GTE review
The plug-in Hybrid Volkswagen Passat GTE can travel 34 miles on electricity, is hugely spacious and comfortable to drive. Private buyers may be better off with a petrol or diesel, mind.
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Want to glide to work and back on electricity but still fancy a combustion engine for those longer weekend trips? You’ll want a plug-in hybrid, and few are as accomplished as the Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate. If you’ve got access to reliable charging, Volkswagen hopes the GTE will tempt you away from cars like the Skoda Superb iV and Ford Mondeo Hybrid.
It’s easy to tell a GTE Passat from the rest of the Passat range because it has large, distinctive C-shaped daytime running lights built into its front bumper. You’ll also find blue brake callipers, two flaps rather than one for its charging cable and fuel tank and, of course, GTE badging front and back.
Inside, there are some things that help it stand out, too, such as blue ambient lighting, blue stitching around its gear lever and a GTE-specific set of digital dials which tell you extra info such as its electric range and when the car’s engine is helping out. Otherwise, it’s traditional Passat, which is to say the materials on show are superbly built and mostly soft to the touch.
As standard, the GTE comes with Volkswagen’s 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s also connected to online services, opening up a range of services on demand, including the ability to control functions via your smartphone.
There’s also the similar but optional 9.2-inch screen you get in other versions of the Passat, which is bright and responsive to touch. You can pinch and zoom and sticking in a destination is simple, which makes it one of the best touchscreen systems available – although ultimately the BMW iDrive is easier 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.
If a plug-in hybrid suits your commute or usual driving habits, then you could do much worse than the Volkswagen Passat. It ticks almost every box, although it isn’t particularly exciting.
The Volkswagen Passat GTE’s front seats are a very comfy place to kick back and while away the miles on a long drive. Space in the back isn’t quite as generous as in a Skoda Superb, but the VW’s softer central seat makes it better for carrying three adults side by side. Boot space in both the saloon is affected by its onboard batteries, however, at 402 litres it’s still easily capable of carrying a family’s luggage.
The GTE 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 will take over, or in sporty GTE driving mode, the two will work together to provide punchy performance and make the GTE feel genuinely quick.
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 plug-in hybrid. If having the option on pure-electric driving fits in with your driving, then all that’s left to do is decide whether it’ll be the saloon or estate.
If you’ve already made your mind up, make sure you head over to our Passat GTE deals page.