Volkswagen Passat: car review

Posted on June 2nd, 2014 by James Luckhurst

Spacious and incredibly frugal.

Volkswagen Passat: car review

nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image

What is it?

The Passat is a big, spacious and high quality saloon car that delivers amazing economy. Its official consumption is 69mpg and its CO2 emissions are just 109g/km.

How safe is it? 

The car has a five star rating from Euro NCAP. On board are a good line-up of safety systems and airbags.

Who should buy one?

We think this car is well suited to someone driving lots of motorway miles, and for whom economy and environment issues trump everything else. But the lack of performance may become tiresome if you regularly fill the car with people and luggage.

Volkswagen Passat: car review

We had the chance to carry out an extensive test of the Bluemotion 1.6-litre TDI for a long journey to and from the French Alps. Some might argue that the engine isn’t quite big enough for a car of this size, especially with a family of four plus luggage. After all, the car weighs just over 1500kg, so it would be a step too far to be asking the 104-bhp diesel engine to come up with performance and acceleration that would dazzle. That, for us, was an occasional challenge when we wanted to slip in a nifty autoroute overtake, and it prevented us from getting past a heavy old coach that was trundling up the mountain road. Several stretches offered low-risk overtaking opportunities, but we decided it was better to sit back and let others past. Shame to miss that trustworthy turn of performance, but you can’t have everything.

The Passat more than made up for any lack of poke by delivering such amazing economy. Long stretches of French motorway passed by comfortably enough, and the Passat felt perfectly happy at cruising speeds of between 70 and 80mph, even if it lacked much in the way of positive response. The parking brake system took a bit of getting used to, especially when hill starts were required.

Volkswagen Passat: car review

The Passat is a big car, with loads of space for driver, passengers and luggage. A week’s worth of bags, shopping and ski gear for a family of four disappeared without trouble into the massive 565-litre boot. The absence of a spare wheel effectively provided an additional ‘lower deck’ of space, perfect for lots of smaller bags and individual items. In the cabin, headroom was vast, and we heard no complaints from large adults in the rear seats.

Volkswagen Passat: car review

There was a long menu of safety kit on board, including curtain airbag system, countersteer support and electronic differential lock. Both front-seat head restraints have anti-whiplash technology. Both driver and front seat passenger had active head restraints. There are Isofix child seat fittings in the rear. Twice the key popped out of the ignition, causing some alarm, though with no consequences. The Passat has a Euro NCAP five-star crash test rating.

Most of our driving was on French roads, where we needed to think in terms of kilometres per hour rather than miles. A handy digital dashboard speed read-out in km/h meant no requirement to do any rushed mental maths to make sure we were at legal speeds.

Volkswagen Passat: car review

We tested the entry-level S model, which meant we didn’t have cruise control for the long journey. Bluetooth technology, alloy wheels, electric windows front and rear were all part of the kit, as was air-conditioning.

Volkswagen Passat: car review

Scan the market (where you’ll also find the Skoda Superb and the Ford Mondeo) and you’ll find the Passat is at the upper end of the segment in terms of price. But resale values are above average, and the low running costs are sure to be attractive. Focus on the fantastic fuel economy of the 1.6-litre engine. We covered just about the whole of France (780 miles) on one tank.


The £21,405 Passat is spacious and incredibly frugal, with massive boot space.

Price: £21,405
Performance:0-60mph in 12.2 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 16
Tax: Band B

Figures for the 1.6-litre TDI 105 Bluemotion