New 2024 Volkswagen Passat on sale now and it’s estate or bust
The ninth-generation VW Passat is available exclusively as an estate car, with plug-in hybrid versions to follow later in the year
Order books are open for the new, ninth-generation Volkswagen Passat, with prices starting from £38,480 and the first examples likely to arrive in spring this year.
The new B9 Passat boasts more premium materials, more technology and lots more space and practicality than before, however, very importantly, it is available exclusively as an estate car.
The decision to make the latest Passat estate-only means it has to try and steal sales away from the BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate, plus the new Skoda Superb Estate when it goes on sale later this year.
For now, the new Passat is only offered with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Buyers do at least have a choice of three trim levels: Life, Elegance and R-Line.
Entry-level Life models come with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, a 12.9-inch central touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three-zone climate control, massaging front seats, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and an electric tailgate. Not too shabby.
Upgrading to Elegance trim (+£3,100) adds a snazzier set of 17-inch rims, an openable panoramic sunroof, ‘IQ.’ Light matrix LED headlights and a front light bar. The interior also gets ‘sports comfort’ seats up front with an upgraded massaging function, microfleece inserts for the upholstery, 30-colour ambient lighting and the Acoustics Pack, which includes double glazing and an acoustic film for the side windows to reduce noise levels.
Finally, the familiar R-Line specification (+£1,250 extra) gives the Passat a sportier look with the Black Styling pack, plus a deeper front bumper that features more black plastic and 18-inch wheels as standard. Inside, R-Line cars get proper sports seats for the front and stainless steel pedals. Also included is Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive suspension with separate settings for Sport, Comfort and Normal modes.
As you’d expect, there’s a lengthy list of tempting optional extras, including an even larger 15-inch touchscreen, a head-up display, a 700W Harman Kardon sound system, leather upholstery and a few additional safety systems like traffic jam assist and an area-view camera.
New Volkswagen Passat engines and plug-in eHybrid powertrains
The only engine currently offered in the new Passat is a 1.5-litre eTSI petrol engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid motor. Combined, the setup produces 148bhp and 250Nm of torque, all of which is sent to the front wheels, allowing for 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds.
It also features Active Cylinder Management (ACTplus) that allows the engine to shut down and let the car coast along, which should help improve efficiency. VW claims this setup can return up to 51.8mpg in the new Passat, depending on the trim level.
Two plug-in hybrid powertrains, which VW call eHybrid, will be available later this year, with outputs of 201bhp or 268bhp. Both powertrains use a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor fed by a 19.7kWh battery; the pack is the same physical size as in the previous Passat eHybrid, but its cells are more energy dense in the new car to provide up to 62 miles of all-electric running, the brand claims. VW says that with petrol and electric power sources combined, the Passat eHybrid's range stands at more than 620 miles.
For the first time the eHybrid will also offer DC rapid charge compatibility, with the battery able to accept a 50kW feed. This means a 10 to 80 per cent top-up will take around 25 minutes, while a new 11kW on-board charger means home top-ups can take as little as two hours.
All Passat models will only come with an automatic dual-clutch gearbox (six-speed for plug-in models, seven-speed for everything else); no manual will be available. No diesels will be part of the line-up in the UK, either.
Interior, technology and practicality
Compared with the out-going car, the new Passat offers a massive amount more practicality. It's 144mm longer, with 50mm of that increase due to a longer wheelbase. We sat in the rear of the new Passat ahead of its unveiling and can confirm that there's huge legroom on offer – much more than the previous car.
Meanwhile boot space now stands at 690 litres with the rear seats in place – 40 litres more than the eighth-generation model. Fold the seats down and this rises to 1,920 litres, or 140 more than its predecessor. A big bonus is that there's no compromise in boot space when opting for one of the newly updated plug-in hybrid powertrains either.
The new Passat features VW's latest MIB4 infotainment system, with claims of a more intuitive user interface. It's displayed on a 12.9-inch touchscreen as standard, with an optional 15-inch panel available depending on spec, and both panels feature a permanent climate control bar on the screen, plus backlit sliders beneath this for temperature and volume.
At the top of the screen users can configure five favourite icons, making it easier to access most commonly used areas of the infotainment for different individuals and reducing the number of touch inputs needed to switch from one area to another.
All models get a 10.25-inch digital dash fitted as standard that features four configurable displays, while there's a new head-up display available.
Physical buttons make a return to the steering wheel, while the drive selector has been moved to the steering column (like in VW's ID. models) to free up more storage space on the centre console, which offers a pair of cup-holders and plenty of bins and cubbies.
VW has enhanced its MQB evo platform with new features such as DCC Pro adaptive suspension dampers that are linked to the car's Vehicle Dynamics Manager and driving mode selection. DCC Pro-equipped models feature two-valve dampers with faster acting software and hardware to improve ride quality and handling, with VW claiming the Passat is better to drive at the more dynamic end of the spectrum, and also offers premium levels of comfort – and VW is explicitly targeting the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes with this new Passat.
On this front, there’s a range of premium-level gadgets too, including IQ.Matrix LED headlights, Park Assist Plus and Park Assist Pro. Park Assist Plus is a familiar VW system that allows driving into or out of spaces automatically, while the latter is capable of this with the driver not sitting in the vehicle, possible thanks to the car's capability to remember the last 50 metres of its journey. The usual level of driver assistance and safety tech is on offer, too.
The long body, sharp lines and smooth face give the new Passat a much slicker look compared to its predecessor, while at the rear there's a full-width light bar as per many of VW's latest cars, such as the recently updated T-Cross small SUV. Passat is now spelled out in letters on the tailgate, too. As we mentioned, 17- or 18-inch wheels come as standard, depending on the chosen specification, although 19-inch rims are available.
The long, low, smooth design has helped boost aerodynamic efficiency as well, with VW claiming a drag coefficient of 0.25Cd, making the new Passat the most aerodynamic estate car the company has produced yet. For context, the last Passat achieved a 0.31Cd claimed figure.
Click here for our list of the best executive cars on sale right now...