VW Passat Estate 1.9 TDI SE
Dealer price 6810
Private price 6325
A great estate needs to deliver serious space and useability, which is why the Passats blend of style, substance and value make it a winner. The boot is a large, regular shape with no intrusions and, apart from a slight lip at the front, the floor is totally flat even with the rear seats folded.
Theres excellent legroom in the back, and space for three adults to sit abreast.
The Passat also offers those in the front more space than rivals, and theres lots of steering wheel and seat adjustment, so you shouldnt struggle to get comfortable.
Alert and nimble arent words you usually use to describe an estate, but the Passat is genuine a pleasure to drive. It lets you have some fun when you want, but the supple ride means its almost unbeatable for a long-distance slog. If you want a sharper-handling Passat, sports suspension was offered as an option when the car was new, but its hard to find a used car with it.
We prefer SE models because they have alloy wheels, electric windows all round, climate control and an electric drivers seat.
Our judges like the 104bhp 1.9-litre diesel version; it has proved dependable and economical, and is available at reasonable prices. However, if youre prepared to consider a car with a higher-than-average mileage then its possible to upgrade to the smoother and more powerful 2.0 TDI for not much more.
One benefit of buying this age of Passat is that the car comes without a particulate filter, which helps to cut potential reliability issues if you have a low annual mileage. Glitches include the electronic handbrake seizing, water leaks into the cabin and anti-lock braking system faults.
Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI,
Big on style and space, and built to last, the Avant is an elegant and comfortable estate with a quality interior. Residual values are good, too.
BMW 5 Series Touring520d SE,
The 5 Series is large, practical and versatile. It also returns a claimed 53.3mpg, thanks to Efficient Dynamics, which brings engine stop-start.
Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi Zetec,
It offers up to 1733 litres of luggage space with the seats down, yet its just as enjoyable and refined as the hatchback model.
Kurtis Williams, supply manager, Lex Autolease
The Passat is a brilliantly built premium estate with excellent diesel engines. Its surprisingly handsome for such a practical car.