VW Passat: car review

Posted on January 14th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

The Passat should please existing customers while drumming up new trade.


VW Passat: car review

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What is it?

Over the last 41 years the Volkswagen Passat has proved ever-popular with business drivers. The latest eighth-generation model is all-new and offers better styling, improved technology and an increase in efficiency.

How safe is it?
The Volkswagen Passat boasts a whole host of class-leading safety innovations including the likes of Emergency Assist which detects a medical emergency if the driver becomes ill and as a result the car brakes; remains in its lane and alerts following drivers.

Who should buy one?
Business drivers and fleet managers up and down the land will be eagerly waiting to get their hands on the new VW Passat. And there is even a model specifically developed with businesses in mind.

VW Passat: car review

The eighth-generation Passat has evolved and improved in every department.
The car will initially be available as a saloon or estate with a choice of diesel engines (this currently accounts for 99 per cent of sales) ranging from a 120PS 1.6-litre, through two 2.0-litre units with 150PS and 190PS respectively to a range-topping 2.0-litre bi-turbo with 240PS, a DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel-drive.
However later this year a plug-in hybrid model will join the range along with a 1.6-litre diesel BlueMotion model and an Alltrack version of the estate.
The Passat now has a longer wheelbase, lower centre of gravity and improved weight distribution – all factors that are transferred to the car’s handling and driving dynamics in a very positive way.
And the 85kg weight loss results in a more agile and responsive performance with plenty of composure when tackling tight bends.
As the majority of Passat sales will be to fleet buyers and VW believes the most popular model will be the estate in SE Business trim powered by the 150PS 2.0 TDI with a six-speed manual gearbox, this is the model we focused on for our test drive.
Acceleration was smooth and responsive with a constant supply of power on tap making sharp bursts of pace easily achievable. The Passat is livelier than previous models and has a more vibrant feel to it. In the past critics have claimed it doesn’t live up to the dynamism of its German counterparts, but this could be the turning point.
All-round visibility is excellent and the cabin remains quiet even when the engine is pushed hard. Even the creases in bumpy roads are ironed out by the efficient damper and suspension system which ensure a cushioned ride.
A test in the saloon model powered by the 1.6 120 PS engine and the estate with a 2.0 190PS powertrain also impressed in their own ways with the entry level saloon offering an ideal option for anyone with less cash to outlay.

VW Passat: car review
The new Passat looks sharper but still maintains its sleek, athletic poise and despite a reduction in length of just 2mm, passenger and luggage space has been increased considerably. The saloon boot now has a capacity of 586 litres (an increase of 21 litres) and the estate is up by a whopping 47 litres to 650 litres or 1,780 litres with rear seats folded flat.
On estate models the rear seats can be lowered in an instant via a lever in the boot and on saloon models useful storage hooks pull down in the boot to help keep shopping bags in an upright position.
All occupants are treated to plenty of leg, head and elbow room with ample space for two passengers in the back – three at a squeeze.
Design-wise the Passat’s interior is clear and precise in its layout with the slim dashboard accentuated by the innovative air vent that stretches the entire width of the interior only interrupted by instruments and the analogue clock in the centre of the dash.

VW Passat: car review
All models are fully loaded with safety specifications. As well as the Emergency Assist which senses a medical emergency in the driver, the Passat also features City Emergency Braking that now detects pedestrians as well as other vehicles along with a number of more instantly recognizable systems. The optional Trailer Assist system makes light work of manoeuvring a trailer into a parking bay.
The Passat has been awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests.

VW Passat: car review

All five trim levels – S, SE, SE Business, GT and R-Line – are richly equipped. All feature a 6.5-inch central touchscreen which includes the DAB radio and Bluetooth functions. From SE Business upwards satellite navigation is also fitted as standard.
Another system worth exploring is the Driver Profile Selection which alters the car’s behaviour. There are five settings with ‘sport’ tightening up the vehicle’s dynamics and ‘eco’ helping to achieve a more frugal result fuel efficiency-wise.

VW Passat: car review

The cheaper Ambiance model has no air-con, but if you’re sitting in the back, you can cool down by manually lowering the window. Remember those wind-down windows of old? They’re here in the Stepway. The Ambiance includes Bluetooth as standard. The better-spec Laureate includes height-adjustable seatbelts for front occupants, as well as air-con and an easily worked touchscreen sat nav system.

An optional Touring Pack (£250) adds front centre armrest, roof bars and a boot luggage net. The Protection Pack (£430) includes rear parking sensors, alarm and a removable boot liner. We can’t see that spending £600 for leather upholstery makes any sense.


VW Passat: car review
It would seem there is a Passat to suit all tastes and budgets with prices starting from £22,215 and rising to £37,035. As with most vehicles these are just the starting prices and as soon as you introduce additional packs and improved trim, the pennies soon add up.
But the fleet market will be impressed with the average 14 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and the reduction in carbon emissions will see benefits in company car tax bands, too.

The Passat should please existing customers while drumming up new trade.

Price: £26,665 (plus £3,310 extras)
Performance: 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg combined
Insurance: 19
VED Tax: Band B
Figures for the Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI 150PS Estate SE Business (manual)