Volkswagen Passat Estate full 9 point review
The 148 and 188bhp 2.0-litre diesel versions are effortlessly brisk, with a broad spread of pulling power that makes overtaking easy. The lower-powered version is fast enough in most situations, though, so it’s what we’d go for. Flagship cars have a punchy twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine which, combined with standard four-wheel drive and a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox, makes the Passat Estate very rapid indeed.
Ride & Handling
For the most part, the Passat rides very well. It does a superb job of soaking up lumps and bumps in the road, especially on the motorway, although it can get caught out if you hit a pothole or sharp ride at speed. Top-spec GT models get adaptive shock absorbers as standard, which make the ride even more comfortable. The steering is quick and accurate, and there’s lots of grip and little body roll, so the Passat Estate feels precise and composed.
High-speed refinement is a Passat forte, so you’re almost totally isolated from wind, road and engine noise. The twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine isn’t as smooth as the less potent versions, and models with 18 or 19-inch wheels suffer from a fair bit of road rumble on coarse surfaces, but otherwise the Passat is impressively hushed.
Buying & Owning
The Passat Estate is a little more expensive to buy than the Ford Mondeo Estate or Mazda 6 Tourer, but a lot cheaper and better equipped than premium rivals such as the BMW 3 Series Touring or Mercedes C-Class Estate. Resale values are strong, which helps make leasing costs competitive and means you shouldn’t lose too much in depreciation when you sell the car. Most versions with a manual gearbox emit less CO2 than those with a DSG automatic ’box, so are cheaper to run as company cars.
Quality & Reliability
Sit in the cabin of the Passat Estate and you’re instantly struck by the impressive quality; every switch and dial feels substantial, and all the panels fit together perfectly. It all feels exceptionally well screwed together, too. The car was too new to feature in the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but Volkswagen as a brand was rated good for mechanical reliability.
Safety & Security
Every Passat Estate comes with a suite of safety equipment, including nine airbags, stability control with a trailer-stabilisation function, and tyre pressure monitoring. SE models and above also get adaptive cruise control, which keeps you a set distance from the vehicle in front, plus a city emergency braking system to help avoid or minimise low-speed shunts. Security experts Thatcham awarded the car five out of five for resisting theft, and four out of five for resisting being broken into.
Behind The Wheel
Visibility is excellent, and the seat is really supportive, even on long journeys. The driver’s seat on SE models and above is particularly comfortable, and its standard seatbase tilt and electric backrest angle adjustment make finding a comfortable driving position easy. The buttons for the climate control system are well placed and easy to use, but there are quite a lot of controls on the steering wheel to negotiate.
Space & Practicality
This is a seriously spacious, practical estate car. The boot is larger than those in almost all rivals, while two handy levers in the boot mean folding down the rear seats is easy. There’s also loads of space for people, so three tall adults can stretch out in comfort in the rear seats. The only slight downside is a raised central tunnel in the floor, which robs foot space from the person sitting in the middle seat.
Entry-level S versions come with air-con, a digital radio, a slick 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth and alloy wheels, but we’d go for SE, which adds front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, and larger wheels. SE Business models get sat-nav, while GT cars also come with leather and Alcantara upholstery, three-zone climate control and heated front seats. R-line versions are expensive, and come with sportier looks inside and out.