Volkswagen Passat (2005-2010) review

The Passat is stylish and good to drive, with top build quality and an excellent diesel range.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£27,970 to £37,100

The Passat is stylish and good to drive, with top build quality and an excellent diesel range. It's a strong contender in the large family car market, successfully bridging the gap between mainstream and upmarket models.

Driving: The Passat is not a particularly entertaining car to drive, but it's capable and comfortable. The suspension set-up gives an excellent ride and makes it comfortable on long journeys. Models with 'sport' suspension (lowered by 15mm, larger wheels) trade some of this comfort to improve the handling; they offer impressive body control and fine, composed handling, though the standard car is capable, too. Most Passats are sold with one of VW's TDI diesel engines - 1.9-litre or 2.0-litre in 138bhp or 168bhp guise - and while they're not the quietest or most linear units around, with rather jerky power delivery, they're effortless on motorways and provide impressive acceleration. A sophisticated edge is provided by the electronic handbrake, as fitted to the Phaeton luxury car.

Marketplace: On paper, the sixth-generation Passat range seems a traditional mix of saloon and estate models. But you couldn't describe it as old-fashioned, and the looks are a case in point. It appears more upmarket than every sector rival, and thanks to cues such as the chrome grille and circular LED rear lights taken from the firm's flagship Phaeton saloon, it's both stylish and distinctive. This upmarket appearance is reflected in the Passat's marketing; it's seen as a rival to lower-end BMW 3-Series and Audi A4s, and distanced from more mainstream competition such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra.

Owning: The airy cabin has excellent fit and finish, with the textured plastics and silver centre console giving a quality feel. The driving position is excellent, with plenty of seat and steering adjustment, and the seats themselves are comfortable and well-bolstered - ideal for long motorway trips. Storage is good, with deep door pockets and a useful central bin. Access to this is made easier by the absence of a traditional handbrake - instead, the Passat has an electric version. Although this can take some getting used to, it gives the VW a sophisticated edge. An 'Auto Hold' option is also available, which automatically applies the handbrake when you come to a stop on a hill and then releases it as you pull away. Variable intervals mean that although the Passat is expensive to service, divers can potentially travel for 30,000 miles or two years between check-ups. Diesel fuel economy is superb, but although the Passat's retained values are OK compared to mainstream rivals, they're still not brilliant. A surprise for a VW, though the estate does perform better than the saloon.

Engines, performance and drive

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MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

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Interior, design and technology

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Practicality, comfort and boot space

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Reliability and Safety

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Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 TSI EVO SE Nav 4dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,970

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 TDI EVO SCR SE Nav 4dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £30,360

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 TDI 200 R-Line 4dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,100

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