Volkswagen Passat Estate review
The VW Passat Estate has all the qualities of the luxurious and comfortable saloon but with the addition of a larger boot
With a huge load area, well appointed cabin and comfortable drive, the Volkswagen Passat Estate is a fantastic all-round family car. It also has a great range of engines, including a BlueMotion diesel model that's capable of 65.7mpg. With the rear seats in place, the boot is bigger than a Ford Mondeo Estate, while it trumps cars like the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer and Hyundai i40 Tourer in terms of badge appeal.
Our choice: Passat Estate 1.6 TDI SE
The sharp, understated styling of the Passat saloon translates well to the estate model. Neat styling touches like an analogue clock and classy dash make the Estate's interior a nice place to spend time. Higher-spec versions such as the new Highline and Sport variants look better thanks to chrome trim and larger alloy wheels but even entry-level cars come with attractive 16-inch rims. Inside, all cars get a leather steering wheel, while the generously equipped Highline gets touch-screen sat nav, privacy glass, climate control and parking sensors.
The 1.6-litre TDI engine with 104bhp is a good match for the Passat Estate. At cruising speeds it's quiet and returns 65mpg in BlueMotion trim. It can feel slightly underpowered though, so drivers who are likely to be carrying big loads on a regular basis should go for a 138bhp or 168bhp 2.0-litre TDI. Three petrol options – a 120bhp 1.4-litre TSI, 158bhp 2.0-litre TSI and 207bhp 2.0-litre TSI – are all smooth and quiet. In the bends, the Passat Estate handles well with taut body control and nicely weighted steering. It's not the last word in driver enjoyment, though - you'll have far more fun behind the wheel of a BMW 3 Series or Ford Mondeo.
The Volkswagen Passat carries an impressive reputation for reliability, and owners of the previous generation – on which this car is based – reported no major issues. That said, it placed a disappointing 71st place in the 2012 Driver Power survey - with cars like the Ford Mondeo and Audi A4 placing substantially higher. However, a five-star rating from Euro NCAP proves the Passat Estate is one of the safest cars in this class, and it now comes with the option of some hi-tech safety features like fatigue detection, lane-keep assist and automatic braking in the event of an emergency stop.
The Passat Estate's 603-litre boot is far bigger than that of the Ford Mondeo or Audi A4 Avant. The rear seats fold down with the tug of a lever in the boot to increase this load area to 1,731 litres. Build quality is hard to fault and there's a huge amount of space in the back seats if you need to carry tall adults. S models kick off the range but still come with air-conditioning, electric windows in the front and rear and a USB aux-in connection. Leather seats are a costly option, but higher-spec models come with hi-tech gadgets like Bluetooth, sat-nav and DAB radio as standard and the Highline model comes with a full-size spare wheel as standard - a handy extra feature in the event of a puncture.
The Passat Estate in BlueMotion trim is one of the cleanest estate cars on the road. It emits just 114g/km meaning road tax is free for the first year. Fuel economy is an impressive 65.7mpg. The higher powered 138bhp 2.0 TDI is pretty good too though, mixing impressive performance with 54.3mpg economy on the combined cycle. A fixed price service plan is also available for 30,000 miles or three years to help keep a lid on running costs and used residual values are strong if not exactly spectacular.