2L SE Business TDI
The Passat has been a top-selling family car for years. It's stylish inside and out with a premium feel but without the high price tag of some executive rivals.
The latest generation, introduced in 2015, is so good that it won the European Car of the Year award. It looks elegant with a clean design and just the right amount of chrome touches. The same is true inside where it has a feeling of luxury together with a minimalist and user-friendly design.
The Passat is brilliant for long journeys and you'll feel relaxed when you arrive at your destination. Whether you’re looking for a saloon, estate or the mild off-road ability of the Alltrack, the Passat is well worth considering as your next car.
There’s loads of space inside the Passat for you and your passengers. It has a stylish and modern layout with excellent placement of the controls and buttons on the steering wheel, so it's easy to operate without being overly elaborate.
The seats are comfortable for both short and long journeys, while the driving position is superb with a good view of the road. There’s lots of storage space including centre console cup holders which are adjustable and have a cover if you need to hide small things away.
The touchscreen infotainment system works well and connects easily to your phone. Some models will also have Volkswagen’s digital speedometer that allows you to change the layout to suit your own preference.
Boot space is huge at 586 litres which is big enough for several large suitcases. If you go for the estate, you’ll have 650 litres expandable to 1,780 litres which is a great choice for families.
The Passat is extremely well engineered, providing a great drive whether you go for the 1.4-litre petrol or one of the more popular diesel engines. Compared to the softer ride of the Vauxhall Insignia and Skoda Octavia, the Passat feels firm and upmarket. Some versions come with adjustable settings so you can change the balance of comfort and performance.
Steering is excellent with great feel and feedback, as is road visibility. Despite being larger than previous generations, the later Passat doesn’t feel too big, making it easy to get around town.
It can be a little hesitant to pull away but generally, the engine and gearbox respond well and the Passat cruises on the motorway as though it was a far more expensive car. It’s surprisingly fun to drive, even more so if you go for the range topping 2.0 TDi twin-turbo.
All models have cruise control, several with active cruise, which removes some of the boredom from long motorway driving. With the exception of the 1.4-litre petrol, all offer good towing capability and have been popular among caravan and trailer owners.
One of the Passat’s best features is its value for money. You’ll pay more for it than for a Ford Mondeo but you’ll get an excellent car which will retain its value well. The R-Line and some GT versions are more expensive but they look very stylish.
Insurance costs are much lower than more premium rivals and even slightly less than the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport.
Running costs are also good with Bluemotion models claiming up to 76 mpg economy, while the plug-in hybrid GTE returns a huge claimed 166 mpg. Tax is comparable to its competitors, as is servicing.
The Passat has an excellent reputation for reliability scoring well in most independent tests and customer surveys. It was the third-placed mid-size car in the latest JD Power Vehicle Dependability Index after the Vauxhall Insignia and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Safety is another strong point for the Volkswagen, with everything from autonomous emergency braking to even driver fatigue detection on some models. Euro NCAP gave it the maximum five stars in 2014.
Best for economy - GTE plug-in hybrid
Best for family - 2.0 TDi 190 R-Line estate
Best for fun - 2.0 BiTDi R-Line
If you spend most of your time in or around town, the 1.4-litre petrol will suit you nicely as it will meet all of your driving needs and is super-efficient.
However, the diesels offer the best all-round performance and economy if you’re planning on driving over 12,000 miles a year. The 2.0 TDi is a great engine if you're looking for a diesel. If you want more performance the 2.0 TDi twin-turbo can be reasonably economical as long as you drive it carefully.
If you’re considering the entry level SE version, it’s worth checking it has everything you need. The SE Business trim level includes sat nav which is always a useful addition. The R-Line versions cost more but they look great.