VW Passat Estate

It looks restrained, but this established carrier is still a great buy

The Passat has the measure of its competitors here for boot space, while the interior is well built and has a quality feel to it. The 2.0 TDI is a decent performer, too, although the lower kit tally and slightly stodgier handling count against the Volkswagen here.

Compared to the Mazda 6 Tourer, the Volkswagen Passat Estate looks rather restrained. Its straight-edged styling is smart enough, while the Sport model adds attractive 17-inch alloy wheels and silver roof rails, but you’d struggle to call it exciting.

Inside, there’s an air of quality that lifts the Passat a notch above the Mazda. The brushed aluminium trim on the dashboard gives things a premium feel, while the switchgear works with a precision that the Mazda can’t quite match.

It’s easy for the driver to get comfortable, as there’s plenty of seat and wheel adjustment, plus lots of space, too. And while getting in and out isn’t quite as easy, as the back doors are narrower than the Mazda’s, once you’re in the rear there’s as much room as in either rival, the seats are comfortable and the big windows mean it feels spacious.

The Passat is the clear leader here for boot space. It has a capacity of 603 litres with the seats up – that’s 50 litres ahead of the Hyundai and nearly 100 litres up on the Mazda. As with the 6 Tourer, the VW has levers set into the sides of the boot that allow you to fold the back seats easily. Once folded, there’s a maximum of 1,731 litres on offer, but that’s only 12 litres ahead of the i40 Tourer.

While the Passat has the largest capacity, the load cover is rather fiddly when compared to the Mazda’s. Press it and it retracts easily, but you’ll find it a bit of a reach to pull back again, and it doesn’t always engage in the guides on either side of the boot.

On the road, the Passat and 6 Tourer were closely matched for performance. The VW is marginally more powerful than the Mazda, but the latter has shorter gear ratios, so the Passat had to give second best in all our tests. However, a slick gearbox and instant throttle response mean it never feels slow, and there’s more than enough overtaking power.

In corners, again the VW couldn’t better the 6 Tourer. While it’s badged Passat Sport, and rides 15mm lower than the standard version, it doesn’t feel quite as sharp to drive as the Mazda. Sure, there’s plenty of grip, but the steering can’t match the 6 for feedback, and the stability control cuts in too readily when pressing on. However, our car was fitted with £805 adaptive dampers, which helped to smooth out the ride.

In terms of costs, the Passat is only £50 more than the Mazda, at £27,145. But it has less kit as standard, with heated leather seats, keyless entry and xenon lights all on the options list. Elsewhere, road and company car tax are on a par with the Mazda’s, while both models returned 44mpg on test. The VW can be had with a fixed-price servicing deal, too, although surprisingly it has poorer residuals.

But is the all-round package convincing enough to beat its two rivals here?

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