Our cars: Volkswagen Passat Estate - July
Week ending July 20
Current mileage 22,314
Driven this week: 413 miles
Volkswagen Passat Estate review
After months of mercilessly taunting Barnaby Jones about the 'streak of brown' that is our Passat Estate, I ended up in it myself last weekend. The switch was more down to someone else wanting the Evoque than me yearning to try the VW, but it seemed like a good opportunity to give it a chance.
Barnaby has pretty much nailed this car over its time with us (the end of which is just on the horizon now). The cabin is pretty comfortable, the dashboard is functional and neat, the engine is refined when you're cruising, the boot is a decent size (although I couldn't help feeling that our late, lamented Hyundai i40 Tourer's was bigger) and, even after 22,000 miles, there are no rattles.
That said, it's also a soulless device that's desperately short of flair – a supremely successful exercise in anonymity, if you will. VW does need to take notice of this, because as the i40 proved to us, the Korean manufacturers are bringing some exciting design ideas and practicality to the party.
In the end, did I respect the Passat? Absolutely. I can see why they sell. Did I really like it, though? That's a tougher call.
Barnaby's VW Passat on video
Week ending July 20
Current mileage 21,901
Driven this week: 299 miles
While moving house the other day, our VW Passat Estate was ideal as a removals van.
In one load, it managed to take an exercise bike, two camping chairs, some bulky coats, all my clothes, a box of general bathroom gear and my rather extensive collection of kitchen utensils. There was even room for three potted plants in the front passenger footwell.
However, there wasn't quite enough room for my TV, music system, DVD and CD collections, and other odds and ends – but that's more to do with the amount of stuff I have, rather than the Passat's loading limitations.
Week ending July 13
Driven this week: 264 miles
Praise is pretty much universal in the What Car? office as far as the Passat's relaxing driving manners and huge carrying capacity, but it's less forthcoming for one element – the iPod connection.
After a long trip up North in the Passat last weekend, I'm going to make the case for the connection's defence.
Yes, it is irritatingly located out of reach for the driver, yes it doesn't always connect and, yes, it is tricky to tuck your phone or iPod out of sight without folding the cable awkwardly, but it has its plus points.
Once it is all connected it is remarkably easy to scroll through your music library using the touch-screen, and it sounds good to my layman's ear.
Admittedly, the plugging in was all done from the passenger seat, but there is an alternative solution that is more convenient. The phone can also connect to the car via Bluetooth. It might sap a little more battery, but is a lot more hassle-free than fiddling with the cable.
Week ending July 6
Driven this week: 85 miles
A holiday in Poland meant the Passat has spent most of this week at an airport car park.
Luggage for two easily fitted into the enormous boot, but the Passat was most useful on the journey home. We’d got up at 3am and had to travel by taxi, two trains, a bus and a plane to get back to the UK. Needless to say, when I finally made it to the car, the only place I wanted to be was on my sofa, which was 40 miles away.
Thankfully the Passat’s light controls, quiet engine and comfortable high-speed ride helped make the final leg home effortless.