£39,195 - £42,850 Price range
The Volkswagen Passat GTE estate is a quick car for people that want (a flavour of) GTI performance, but aren’t willing to pay the price in terms of running costs. It’s ideal if you commute in the city and have somewhere at home to charge it, much like hybrid versions of the Volvo V90, Mercedes E-Class Estate and BMW 5 Series Touring.
Inside, there isn’t much to tell you this is the greenest (and one of the most expensive) Passats, apart from electric blue mood lighting, a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel, a revised gearknob and new seat trims. The rest is a regular Passat interior – so great build quality and soft plastics are in plentiful supply.
You can spec up VW’s virtual cockpit, which replaces the regular dials with a crisp 12.3-inch screen that lets you control what information should have priority, whether it be music choice, the sat-nav map or, uniquely for the GTE, an energy gauge that tells you what the hybrid system is up to.
Space inside is plentiful with room for three adults in the back and a capacious boot. That said, it is marginally less practical than the regular Passat, because the hybrid’s batteries are situated below the boot floor, taking up the storage compartment. As a result boot space drops from 650 to 483 litres.
Power comes from a 1.4-litre petrol with around 150hp and an electric motor developing around 115hp. With a combined power output of 215hp it’s no slouch, but there isn’t even a hint of sportiness in how it goes about its business. The changeover between electric and petrol power is near unnoticeable and if you’re careful you can drive up to 30 miles on silent and clean electric power alone – charging takes 4.25 hours on a regular 240V household socket and 2 hours and 30 minutes if you install the optional 360V wallbox.
Even with no annual road tax bill and a range of government incentives, the Passat GTE won’t make sense if you do lots of miles and don’t have somewhere to charge it – a diesel-powered Passat is similarly fuel efficient in the long term and costs a fair amount less to buy. However, if you live and work in the city – and do have somewhere to charge it – this practical plug-in hybrid is a great all-rounder.