Our cars: Volkswagen Passat Estate - December
Week ending December 29
Current mileage 8235
Driven this week: 251 miles
I’ve finally done it! I’ve finally managed to fill the Passat’s boot. Even such a big loadbay wasn’t up to the job of taking all my niece and nephew’s Christmas presents, so I had to fold down two of the rear seats to fit everything in.
The Passat was otherwise faultless. It was relaxing and quiet on the three-hour journey from Surrey to Somerset, then, when it was time to wearily drive home that evening, I was glad the light, slick controls and smooth low-rev punch made it effortless to drive.
Week ending December 24
Typical. As soon as I get the Passat fitted with winter tyres (good value at £810 fully fitted, but you have to store the original wheels and tyres yourself), the temperature rises to double figures and all threat of snow, ice and sleet goes with it.
I haven’t been able to test their ability in treacherous conditions, then, but I already know they’ve improved the ride a little thanks to their more generous height – they’re 205/55 R16, rather than the standard 235/45 R17.
The wheels also look decidedly budget; like the kind you’d get as a dealer-fit option on a Polo. Still, I won’t care about that as long as I can keep driving when the proper winter weather arrives.
Week ending December 16
Driven this week 619 miles
Opinion is split in the What Car? office over the Passat’s dashboard clock. Some think it’s old-fashioned, while others (myself included) think it lends the interior a touch of class. I wish the arms didn’t look quite so plasticky, though.
Everyone agrees, however, that the clock is hard to read, because the face is set too far into the dashboard and half of it is obscured by reflections.
Regardless of whether you like the look of it or not, a clock that’s hard to read is pointless.
Week ending December 9
Driven this week 630 miles
The Passat’s engine is getting smoother and smoother. Barely a vibration enters the cabin through the pedals, seat or steering wheel, and the engine revs with a slickness that some petrols would be proud of.
It’s impressively quiet, too. There’s a telltale diesel rattle when you rev it, but it’s subdued and never intrusive.
Add decent low-rev punch and the Bluemotion Technology economy-boosting measures and the engine is a peach.
Week ending December 2
Driven this week 272 miles
I still haven’t managed to fill the Passat’s boot. Even moving a load of suitcases, boxes and bags of clothes didn’t tax its capacity. In fact, I didn’t have to fold down the rear seats to get everything in.
That’s a good thing, because folding the seats isn’t the work of a moment. You have to release the seatbacks by pulling a lever at the top of the seat or on either side of the boot, pull the seatbases up and forward so they rest against the backs of the front seats, then drop the rear seatbacks.
Not that they lie totally flat. To get them to do that, you have to remove the headrests first, which then stow in the seatbases when they’re pulled up. A Mazda 6 Estate’s Karakuri seat-folding system, where the seats fold flat at the tug of a lever, makes the Passat’s set-up look incredibly fiddly.
It’s a shame, because the Passat’s long, wide boot with its vertical sides and small loading lip is otherwise excellent at carrying lots of stuff.