Volkswagen Passat Review
The Volkswagen Passat has been with us for 40 years and the latest incarnation is the most convincing package to-date.
Pros: Efficient engines, excellent quality, plenty of space, good motorway manners
Cons: A little too anonymous, not brilliant to drive, Mondeo costs £4k less
Trim range: S, BlueMotion, Highline, R-Line, Sport
Petrol engines: 1.4 (122, 160), 2.0 (210)
Diesel engines: 1.6 TDI (105), 2.0 TDI (140,177)
Gearboxes: Six-speed manual, six-speed DSG, seven-speed DSG
What is the Volkswagen Passat?
For many years, the Volkswagen Passat has occupied its own little island between the premium Germans and the more mainstream family saloons. It is a conventional-looking saloon and estate that has a loyal following.
It has been around a while in its current guise, but it is still able to strongly compete alongside strong rivals such as the Vauxhall Insignia and Hyundai i40.
The Passat offers a wide choice of engines, with the 2.0 TSI (from a Golf GTI, no less) offering brisk performance, accelerating to 62mph in just 7.6 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 148mph. However, our pick of the petrol engines would be the 1.4 TSI, which offers tremendous economy, whilst still being able to sprint to 62mph in a mere 8.5 seconds.
Despite this, most Passat are sold as diesels: the 1.6-litre TDI is smooth but can be a little overwhelmed when pressing on; the 2.0-litre TDI 140 is all you need with the 177hp version giving a bit of extra shove for higher-speed use.
Ride and handling
The Volkswagen Passat will spend most of its time pounding the motorways of Britain and, in truth, this is where it feels the most at home. The ride is smooth and comfortable, enabling you to cover great distances with absolute ease.
Once off the motorway, the Passat begins to feel a little out of its comfort zone, with stodgy handling, a hint of body roll and numb steering serving to create a less polished performance. Competent, but the Mondeo is more fun.
Behind the wheel
Dashboard and driving position
Ongoing improvements to the Passat have resulted in a revised dashboard, which feels decidedly less sombre than it did before. It's hardly exciting, but it's not offensive either.
The steering wheel and driver's seat offer plenty of adjustment to find the ideal driving position.
Rearward visibility in the Passat saloon is hampered by large C-pillars, but a deep rear window in the estate version improves things dramatically.
The mid-range Highline trim level offers front and rear parking sensors as standard.
Gadgets and technology
All models feature Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio and a Multi Device Interface (MDI), with USB and iPod connection cables.
- Smartphone connectivity: Bluetooth is standard across the range, with all models allowing for USB connectivity
- Navigation: Opting for the Highline model adds a touch-screen sat nav system
- Personalisation: The driver's audio and phone displays are mirrored on the display screens
- Audio: Bluetooth and DAB digital radio is offered as standard
- Internet: No internet connectivity is available in the Passat
- Can it Tweet or Facebook: No
- What is the standout gadget on the Volkswagen Passat: A range of exciting gadgets are available, but we can't help but love the new analogue clock in the Passat!
Passenger space and practicality
The Passat offers a huge amount of space for the front seat passenger and those travelling in the back. There's plenty of head, shoulder and legroom for four people.
Adding a fifth person is possible by making use of the middle seat in the rear, although legroom is hampered by the floor tunnel.
The feeling of space continues in the boot, with the saloon offering 485 litres and the estate model increasing this to 513 litres. Fold the rear seats down and the estate's luggage capacity increases to 1731 litres.
The Volkswagen Passat is one of the most refined cars in its class, with extra sound deadening, coupled with smooth and quiet engines, helping to deliver the levels of refinement you'd expect from a Volkswagen. It's one reason you may opt for a Passat over a Mondeo.
The Passat scored a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, with every model offering multiple airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and electronic differential lock as standard.
The Passat also offers a tyre pressure loss indicator and a hill hold function (so you don’t roll back when juggling clutch and brake when pulling away).
Running Costs/Value for Money/Pricing
The 1.6 TDI BlueMotion offers - in the saloon model - a quite remarkable 74.3mpg on a combined cycle and 113g/km CO2, resulting in an annual road tax bill of just £130.
Both every Passat offers tremendous levels of efficiency, with even the 2.0 TSI Sport saloon offering 50.4mpg.
The Volkswagen Passat occupies its own space between the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia on one hand, and the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series on the other.
It can't quite match its German counterparts when it comes to quality, but it feels a class above the more mainstream rivals. And that counts for a lot.
Pricing and equipment
Prices for the saloon start from around £20,000, with the estate weighing in at around £1400 more.
Opting for the Highline adds around £2000 to the price and this is where the smart money should go: sat nav, front and rear parking sensors and climate control are all nice extras to have.
Value for money
The real value for money lies in the mid-range Highline model, which adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, a multi-function steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors and a touchscreen satellite navigation system.
It helps the Passat to maintain its premium feel, which is important, especially in light of the recent upgrades made to the Vauxhall Insignia.
The Volkswagen Passat still feels a class above the Ford Mondeo and the Vauxhall Insignia, but it's worth noting that, dynamically at least, it feels short of the Ford.
Crucially, the Ford Mondeo is also available from around £16,000, some £4000 less than the price of the Passat S. We'd also point out that the recent improvements made to the Insignia have shortened the gap between the big Vauxhall and the VW.
It's almost impossible to get excited about the Volkswagen Passat, but then herein lies one of its biggest strengths.
An unflinching ability to go about its business in a relaxed and measured manner, offering high levels of comfort and plenty of practicality, it’s definitely worth a look.