New VW Passat Estate

Midlife facelift for the Passat brings plenty of improvements, but mild styling changes mean that it impresses rather than dazzles.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Passat does plenty right –it’s comfortable, refined, good value and practical. But it faces the same problem that the model always has – it’s not especially desirable. This estate is certain to win many fans for its ability to carry children and bags, and travel long distances with ease. But it would be good if VW’s designers could convince you to buy one because you want it – and not because you need it.

The Passat is evolving! Rather than undergoing a complete overhaul, Volkswagen’s latest model has taken small steps towards improving an already winning formula. But are the changes enough to keep the Passat at the top of its game?


Well, the looks certainly aren’t revolutionary. Every panel apart from the roof has been changed from the old model, but it’s still recognisable as a Passat. That’s not such a bad thing – the VW’s family face is sharp and new creases in the bodywork make for a stylish overall look.

Inside, the changes are also subtle. Soft-touch materials now cover the dash and lashings of brushed aluminium add some class. Practicality is boosted, too, with a massive 603 litres of space, rising to 1,731 litres with the rear seats down.

Our model was powered by a 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine and it’s the pick of the range. Acceleration is brisk, with 0-62mph in 10 seconds, while improved sound-deadening makes it incredibly quiet on the move, even at high revs.

Carrying a Bluemotion badge – which means stop-start and brake-energy regeneration are standard – the engine is efficient, too. Combined economy stands at 61.4 mpg and CO2 emissions are only 120g/km, ensuring the first year of road tax is free, and only £30 thereafter.

As you’d expect, the Passat feels at home on the motorway, with the soft ride soaking up rough surfaces easily and the long sixth gear allowing for relaxed cruising. It’s just as good around town, too.

Twisty back roads aren’t a problem, but the body rolls in corners, and the fully electric steering set-up is well weighted but short on feedback. Optional adaptive dampers help, with a Sport mode that stiffens the suspension and steering.

The six-speed manual gearbox fitted to our model is a pleasure to use, with quick and accurate shifts, although VW’s semi-automatic DSG transmission is also excellent. The Passat is good value for money, too, with our mid-range SE model weighing in at £22,874. That includes cruise control with fatigue detection, hill hold, 17-inch alloys and automatic lights and wipers.

There’s a wide range of hi-tech extras too, such as a self-parking system, massage function and a boot that opens when you wave your foot under the rear bumper. 

Rival: Ford Mondeo Estate

Fresh from an update itself, the Mondeo is better than ever. Arguably the driver’s choice in this segment, the Ford trumps the VW for thrills on the road. The two cost about the same but the Passat boasts the classier cabin.

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