Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test: report 5

Volkswagen's evergreen Passat has recently received a mid-life nip and tuck, including the reintroduction of the plug-in hybrid GTE. Does a longer all-electric range extends its appeal?...

Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test review

The car Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE Advance 1.4 TSI PHEV 

Run by Alastair Clements, special contributor

Why it’s here Can plug-in hybrid power keep the ageing Passat relevant in a large family car market dominated by SUVs?

Needs to Blend tax-friendly emissions and excellent economy with the practicality, comfort and style to justify its price tag

Miles covered 1830 Price £40,860 Target Price £35,665 Price as tested £40,860 Test economy 104.8mpg Official economy 194.9mpg (combined)

10 June 2020 – No bar to practicality

I had great ambitions of discovering how effective a plug-in hybrid is as a tow vehicle, with plans to go caravanning across the south-west, so I had a detachable Westfalia towbar installed as one of the Passat’s options.

Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test

Unfortunately, circumstances have conspired against the touring lifestyle, and until now it has been an unused accessory. But visions of improving my fitness during lockdown have led me to borrow a bike, and the towbar has been deployed to further boost the estate’s impressive practicality.

Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test

It’s a doddle to fit, slotting into place in the mounting beneath the rear bumper, and within five minutes I had my Thule rack attached, had checked all of the lights and was on my way. 

Another option, the reversible boot mat, has come into its own since we switched to the GTE for dog-walking duties. With a flap that folds forward to protect the bumper from their claws, and long enough to cover the load bay even with the seats folded, it’s proven a useful extra despite the £168 price-tag.

Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test review

You’ll get that money back, though, if you drive in a way that suits a plug-in hybrid – which is easily done if you only ever do short journeys. I’ve recently had my first run of any note with the relaxing of lockdown, and, at around 50 miles each way on a variety of roads, it provided a useful test. On the way to my destination, using a blend of electric and petrol power, the GTE averaged just shy of 100mpg. On the way back, with the battery reserves empty, it was a struggle to better 40mpg. Worth bearing in mind if you only ever make long trips.

Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test review

Monitoring battery performance is easy using the on-board computer, which is part of the extremely good infotainment system you get with Advance spec. The sat-nav is as good a built-in system as I’ve used, but there are a few frustrations; it can take a while to scroll through different screens to get the information you need, and the car always defaults to its preferred screen, and not mine!

Volkswagen Passat GTE long-term test review

The system takes quite a while to ‘warm up’, and even when fully up to speed it can be frustratingly slow to respond. Oh, and the grammar typo on the sign-off screen is infuriating…

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