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What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

For This Volkwagen Passat is stylish, practical and good to drive

Against You won't like its poor rear visibility

Verdict All the family car you'll ever need

Go for… 2.0 TDI S

Avoid… 1.6 FSI

Volkswagen Passat Saloon
  • 1. Check the suspension on high-mileage cars
  • 2. Check the power steering works properly - it can give problems
  • 3. There's a good-sized boot and generous room in the cabin
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Volkswagen Passat Saloon full review with expert trade views

The Passat is an excellent car; in fact, it's almost good enough to step out of the Ford Mondeo class and have a crack at the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Even on standard suspension it feels nimble, alert and involving. Sport models give even sharper handling, although a little of the standard car's excellent ride comfort is sacrificed.

It's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel - and in any of the seats for that matter - although a little more shoulder support wouldn't go amiss. There's plenty of room in both the front and rear, and there's generous cabin stowage and a good-sized boot. While the interior quality may not be quite up to Audi standards, it's still well ahead of what the Vauxhall Vectra and the Mondeo offer.

The Passat scored a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and all models get six airbags, plus traction and stability control, as standard.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Top image for the company rep. Big and roomy. Nearly all diesels on the used market

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

As long as you stay away from the entry-level model and the range-topping flagship, you'll be fine; the 113bhp 1.6-litre FSI petrol hasn't got enough power for such a heavy car, while the 3.2 V6 4Motion SEL isn't exactly short on power with 247bhp, but it's far from cheap to run. Other petrol engines include a 148bhp 2.0 and a 197bhp 2.0 turbo.

The majority of used Passats are diesel powered, and we'd opt for the 1.9 TDI with 104bhp. It's not as powerful or refined as the 2.0 TDI, but it's noticeably cheaper on the used market, and still performs reasonably. There's also a 168bhp 2.0 TDI diesel. From 2008, a new generation of 2.0-litre diesel engines was introduced, with greater refinement and lower emissions. Ultra-frugal versions of the diesels, labelled Bluemotion, are also available.

Top-specification SEL cars come with leather as standard, while Sport models have electric seats. Entry-level S cars only come with a CD player, air-con and electric front windows - there's no cruise control or rear speakers - but they are plentiful and well priced. A well-cared-for SE will provide more creature comforts.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Refreshed looks with spacious cabin that feels retro. Desirable family car

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

While you can pick up a Ford Mondeo or a Vauxhall Vectra for Not much money, the Passat, like Honda's Accord and Volvo's S40, doesn't come quite so cheap, but it's still great value.

Cheapest to insure is the 1.6-litre entry-level car, which incurs no more than a group 7 rating, along with the 1.9 TDI diesel. The 2.0 TDI 138bhp SE sits in group 9, while the V6 4Motion is the most expensive to insure with a group 16 rating.

With an official 28.2mpg, the V6 is also the thirstiest engine in the range. The most economical is the 1.9 TDI with 47.9mpg, while the 138bhp 2.0 TDI manages 46.3mpg and the 168bhp version 47.1mpg. Service intervals are variable and costs are on a par with what you'll pay for a Honda Accord or a Volvo S40. The efficient Bluemotion versions of the diesel deliver between 55.4mpg and 57.6mpg.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Top image for the company rep. Big and roomy. Nearly all diesels on the used market

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There were a couple of early recalls - visit www.vosa.gov.uk for VIN details. The most serious concerns a risk of fire on 2.0 TDI models with the six-speed manual gearbox. The car's ECU also needed a software upgrade.

Oil levels require regular checks – especially on diesel models. If it's neglected, then reliability can suffer.

The interior should prove durable and hardwearing, but check all electrical systems thoroughly. It's also very important to have the suspension looked at on high-mileage cars, especially if you plan to carry heavy loads or tow.

The steering system can also give problems, so make sure the power assistance feels even and consistent, and keep an ear out for any unusual noises. The DSG auto gearbox can be a cause for concern, but this should be covered under warranty.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Refreshed looks with spacious cabin that feels retro. Desirable family car

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing
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