VW Passat R Line: driven
Entry-level S models aren't what you would call fully loaded, but it was previously a £1600 hike to the next level if you wanted a few more of life's luxuries. Now, though, Volkswagen has tweaked its saloon and estate ranges, ditching the Sport and SEL trims and replacing them with R Line.
This costs only £600 more than the basic car, but it comes with £2470 worth of extra kit, including cruise control, height adjustment and lumbar support for the front seats, a front centre armrest, a tyre pressure monitoring system and a leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel. Shame you still get wind-down windows in the back, though.
R Line models have a sporty look to them, too, thanks to 17-inch alloys and a styling pack with all-round skirts and chrome detailing.
Under the bonnet
Our test car came with Volkswagen's strong and free-revving 1.8 TSI petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, and the sporty makeover hasn't affected the Passat's fine handling and firm yet composed ride.
The 1.8 TSI version costs £18,550, but R Line can also be combined with Volkswagen's 120bhp 1.4-litre petrol for £17,040, or 108bhp and 138bhp 2.0-litre diesels that will set you back £18,150 and £19,295 respectively. The higher-powered diesel is even available with a six-speed DSG semi-auto gearbox.
When you consider that Ford Mondeo prices have been rocketing over the past few months, Volkswagen now has a family car that looks surprisingly good value.
Engine size 1.8
Price from £18,550
Top speed 137mph
Insurance group 13
Likely discount: You're likely to get at least £1400 off. Push for more.
Or try a: Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia
Make a bee-line for R Line