Volkswagen Passat

Moving house can be a stressful business, but with our Passat estate doing all the carrying, things went smoothly

  • Storage - I love the Cargo Management System. The belt and bar slide easily, and the set-up can easily be taken out whenever it's not needed. Equipment - Our flagship SEL car comes with chrome exterior trim, while inside, two-zone climate control and heated seats are standard - both of which won our approval.Road manners - With fluid steering, good body control and a well damped (if firm) ride, the Passat achieves a good balance of comfort and handling.
  • TDI engine - Performance and economy are strong, but the TDI is noisy. And as power delivery is rushed, the traction control is worked hard on wet roads.Parking sensors - The one item I would really want on a long estate car isn't standard. Parking sensors are a £335 option - but you do get front and rear systems for that.

The sales figures don't lie. Estate cars are increasingly coming under threat from flexible people carriers and off-roaders. Yet in the past few weeks, I have discovered that the simple attributes of a traditional load-lugger - a big boot and car-like driving experience - hold as much appeal as ever.

During its four months on Auto Express's long-term fleet, I have rarely had a chance to drive the VW Passat 2.0 TDI estate, as it has been in great demand. And after moving into my first property recently, I can see why.

Fold the rear seatbases, and a long, flat load space is created. There's 1,641 litres of room here, which I found was more than enough to swallow everything - including the kitchen sink.

Our Passat has an extensive £4,330 worth of options fitted, but the £165 VW charges for the Cargo Management System is worth every penny. It comprises side rails and movable dividers, which really came into their own when lugging my belongings into my new home. What's more, if you're not using it, the well thought-out luggage separation set-up can simply be removed.

There's more to the VW than its boot, however - the cabin quality impresses, and I think the Passat's shape is well executed, too.

The 168bhp turbodiesel engine provides strong performance - although its power delivery is a bit sudden. Combine that with a short first and long second gear, and the Passat can be tricky to drive smoothly at low speeds. In fact, several colleagues who took to the wheel found it easy to stall when crawling in traffic.

The electric parking brake hasn't won many fans, either. Although it frees up a handy amount of space on the centre console for extra storage, the general consensus has been that the system is confusing to use.

Still, four months with the Passat have confirmed our opinion that this is one of the best family estates around.

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