Skip advert
Advertisement

Long-term test: Volkswagen Passat Estate (2015-2024)

Final report: as the VW Passat Estate leaves our fleet, we reflect on how much else it had to offer beyond style and practicality

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Find your Volkswagen Passat
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

I’ll miss the Volkswagen Passat because of its calming influence and how it simply does everything it’s supposed to on all fronts. There’s no doubt our premium estate is pricey, especially when totting up all the options. However, its quality, practicality and driving dynamics shouldn’t be overlooked.

Mileage: 5,912Economy: 43.5mpg 

Advertisement - Article continues below

After 10 months on our fleet, it’s time to say farewell to our Volkswagen Passat Estate. I’m certainly going to miss our classy SE Business model, and not just for its obvious load-lugging capabilities.

Looking back over previous reports, it occurred to me that I’ve been so focused on the Passat’s practicality, sleek design and calming qualities that I’ve neglected to mention how much fun it’s been to actually get behind the wheel and drive it.

Although many of its 5,912 miles have been racked up plodding through city traffic in commuter chaos, when I’ve had the opportunity to hit the open road in the Passat, the size of my smile has increased, just like the fuel consumption in town jams.

Given its impressive credentials as a family estate, I’ve been surprised by just how much fun I’ve had zipping along country roads. Part of that stems from the MQB underpinnings that give the Passat its sharp, precise steering, while the 148bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel has plenty of power to match the grippy chassis.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The optional Dynamic Chassis Control (£725) offers different driving modes, so I’ve been experimenting with the Sport setting more recently, instead of my usual selection of Comfort. This stiffens the suspension and sharpens throttle response. Yet the Passat is a family car built for ferrying loved ones and their stuff around, so for me, it’s essential that the VW ticks the box of feeling safe when cornering at speed.

Advertisement - Article continues below

And it does. Easily. In fact, the combination of security, comfort and connectivity means my boys barely even look up to notice that I’m having any fun.

Safety is always high on my list of priorities, so the £1,120 Driver’s Assistance Pack, including high-beam and lane assist, traffic-sign recognition and pedestrian detection, is a security blanket worth having. I’ve been thankful for it on a few occasions. To go with this, my car also features adaptive cruise control, which includes autonomous emergency braking.

It’s easy enough to use, and simplifies driving and removes stress. Adaptive cruise and AEB are standard on SE Business trim, but other options hike the price.

My car has more than £7,000 worth of extras – and that doesn’t include a Panoramic sunroof (£945) or the Active info display (£585), both of which I sampled on a Passat Estate Alltrack. The Cargo management system and sound-insulating glass are other additions worth specifying, too. 

Volkswagen Passat Estate: third report

Mileage: 3,919

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Economy: 38.5mpg

The motoring world might have gone SUV mad, but sometimes when space is the most important issue, you just can't beat a nice big estate.

Best SUVs and off-roaders

Our Volkswagen Passat has certainly been packed up and put through its paces of late. I've been moonlighting as a wannabe roadie, hauling music gear for my son's band, spending evenings and weekends transporting George around the studios and venues of London. It's always a pleasure, never a chore, mostly due to the space, comfort and clever design of our premium VW estate (plus some parental pride).

Our popular SE Business model comes with a host of standard features to make life safer and easier, like Adaptive Cruise Control with radar-controlled distance monitoring, and city emergency braking.

Advertisement - Article continues below

But it's some of the more expensive extras that ease the process of loading up. The optional keyless entry (£600) offers the usual headline-grabbing easy entry and push-button start, but the hands-free opening for the powered tailgate is the biggest boon. It means you don't have to faff around putting items down, while if I'm picking the band up, the bootlid can be popped from the driver's seat.

Inside the 650-litre load bay, quick-release handles (set into the side trim) allow the rear seats to be dropped easily, so you don't have to clamber into the back. With them down, the capacity more than doubles to 1,780 litres, which is where the opportunity to get creative with packing really begins.

George and I have found that, with careful loading, we can squeeze in a decent-sized drum kit, a couple of guitars and a few medium-sized amps, plus some flight cases with assorted guitar pedals and cables.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Our car also features the VW Cargo management system (£290), which includes a sliding load bed to help move heavier items in and our from the middle of the boot without having to stretch. There are also belts and straps for securing more precious cargo via the rail system, or even splitting the boot into compartments.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Best estate cars

There's no denying that all this makes life easier, but as a reasonably young, fit, six-footer who drives carefully, I would probably save myself the cost on that option - although I expect some Passat drivers would absolutely love it!

More often than not, my son's band don't need to take all their kit to a gig or practice session, which means I can split the 60:40 back seats and get a couple of band members into the back for a lift as well.

Rear legroom is very generous in the Passat so the boys can put personal bags and laptops down by their feet without too much compromise when it comes to space.

Only last week, my estate-driving in-laws commented on how generous the Passat's legroom was in comparison to their own load-lugger - although they thought our boot wasn't as good as others they've seen.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Personally, I love the VW because it's great to drive. Even loaded up, the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI has plenty of power, yet it's super smooth, quiet, and the 38.5mpg it's returing isn't half bad for London driving.

I'm still not convinced by some of the costly extras that bump up the price. While I love the ergoComfort driver's seat, I've never taken the £715 Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers out of Comfort mode.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Perhaps my view will change, and I'll see the benefit of the Sport setting on an imminent half-term trip involving some inviting roads in Lincolnshire - although George will miss out as he has a gig and a bus ride waiting.

Volkswagen Passat Estate: second report

Mileage: 3,068Economy: 35.9mpg

In my first report on our Volkswagen Passat Estate, I was running around like a kid in a sweet shop making use of the massive 650-litre boot, shifting anything and everything from office furniture to garden materials, just because I could.

These days I’m more ‘Zen’ – overcome by a sense of intense well-being and relaxation – and much of this is down to the car.

The more I drive the Passat, the more I’m impressed by its design, comfort and simplicity. When I’m in stressful city traffic, the solid build and soundproofing make it a safe haven from the hectic world outside, while the infotainment system is top notch and simple to control through the touchscreen or steering wheel buttons.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The VW tells me the speed limit, warns of stationary traffic ahead and can suggest alternative routes, too. It’s getting close to autonomous driving without cutting me out of the equation, just as I’d like. 

It’s also easy to stay at the correct speed in town. This might be partly to do with my age and passengers, but the Passat’s gearing ties in seamlessly with urban speed limits. It feels unnatural to go any faster anyway; what’s the hurry when you are this comfortable?

Advertisement - Article continues below

• Best estate cars

Take the VW out of town on to country lanes and it glides along, with its composed and controlled ride. After a recent family day out at the seaside, I drove home in the dark down winding A-roads and through a forest. Sometimes a journey like this can be cause for concern. However, I absolutely loved navigating the twisting lanes with the auto beam headlights shining a reassuring glow on the road. They’re far more courteous to oncoming drivers than my fat fingers could ever be, too.

My motorway trips have been relatively limited so far. The few family journeys we’ve made have been very smooth, with the refined 148bhp 2.0 diesel doing the donkey work, while my family enjoyed the spacious leather-lined cabin and connectivity tech.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The novelty of that huge boot hasn’t worn off, either. I’m still a lugger and will be taking my family to the airport this week, safe in the knowledge that we can easily fit everything required into the back of the Passat. I’ll just be a bit nervous that we might be paying for some excess luggage...

Volkswagen Passat Estate: first report

Mileage: 1,490Economy: 38.5mpg

It’s amazing how different cars can affect the way you live. I’ve happily spent the past 10 months driving our Suzuki Vitara, and not once did I feel cramped or devoid of space. Yet within days of getting the keys to our new Volkswagen Passat Estate, I’ve turned into something of an ‘action man’, the Eddie Stobart of Auto Express. I’ve been shifting anything and everything I can fit into the car’s huge 650-litre boot – and the opportunity to move bulky bits about has opened up a new world of possibilities.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Within days, I’d packed up and moved my wife’s entire millinery studio from one place to another. This included dismantling and loading desks, furniture and shelves, not to mention dozens of delicate hats. It only took three trips, which is testament to the amount of space the estate offers when all the seats are folded down (1,780 litres).

Soon after this, I also remodelled our back garden, using the car to collect (among other things) several two-metre-long decking boards. That’s certainly more than most average family models could accommodate.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The usual tip run and shopping trips have become easier with the added space, while the automatic hands-free tailgate (£600) has made loading easier. I also love the option to pop the boot open from the driver’s seat; especially useful when collecting friends and family who are carrying loads of gear.

Cabin quality is impressive. I love the look of the patterned metal finish cutting through the soft-touch dash plastic, and the high-gloss black steering wheel edging. As you’d expect of a car designed to eat up motorway miles, it’s relaxing and comfortable to drive; this estate is aimed squarely at fleet buyers.

However, some options take the quality further. The Vienna leather luxury pack brings heated front seats and windscreen washer jets, but at £1,815 it isn��t cheap. The driver assistance pack is another pricey extra, with £1,110 of tech including high-beam and lane assist, traffic sign recognition and predictive pedestrian protection.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The clarity of the systems’ display and the superb ergonomics can’t be faulted, and the functions I’ve used so far have been straightforward. But as I count up the cost I think of the Vitara; true, it’s in a different class, but for around £6,000 less it came with many of those pricey options as standard.

Best family cars

Estates are designed to lug things about, yet the Passat’s cabin is so finely finished I feel a strange urge to protect it to the best of my ability. I permanently carry a tarpaulin in the back to prevent causing any damage from messy jobs. I don’t own a dog, but if I did it wouldn’t be allowed in the back without a shampoo and rinse.

The VW is beautifully smooth on the road. Its 2.0-litre BlueMotion diesel is quiet and refined (especially compared with the Vitara’s engine), and its 38.5mpg isn’t too bad given that the first 1,500 miles have been spent in the city. I’d expect that figure to come down as the estate gets to stretch its legs over the summer and into the holiday season.

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three penalty points.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Creative director

As Creative director, Darren predominantly looks after the Auto Express magazine; whilst consulting for LRM, Evo and Enzo. He manages everything from photography briefs to layout and logo design. Darren has worked in the motoring industry for over 25 years and loves it.  e-mail: darren_wilson@dennis.co.uk

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Dacia’s Duster is Britain’s best car to own as Driver Power 2024 survey results land
Dacia Duster - front tracking
News

Dacia’s Duster is Britain’s best car to own as Driver Power 2024 survey results land

Owners have voted the Dacia Duster as the most satisfying new car to own in the 2024 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey
11 Jun 2024
Best cars to own: Driver Power 2024 results
Driver Power 2024 - best cars to own header
News

Best cars to own: Driver Power 2024 results

The best new cars to own in the UK right now according to the people who already do. It’s the 2024 Driver Power results!
11 Jun 2024
New Porsche 911 S/T 2024 review: one of the best sports cars ever built
Porsche 911 S/T - front
Road tests

New Porsche 911 S/T 2024 review: one of the best sports cars ever built

Porsche’s last hurrah for the 992.1 generation 911 is an epic driving machine with just the right dose of luxury
12 Jun 2024