What's the used Volkswagen Passat GTE estate like?
Fancy an economical Volkswagen Passat? A lot of people like the idea of a Passat that can save you money on fuel – which is why most Passats sold in the UK have up to now been in diesel form.
But diesel doesn't enjoy the favour it once did. What, therefore, if you want something different? Hybrids have often been touted as a frugal alternative – and the hybrid model of the Passat, the GTE, offers you the option to plug it in, meaning you can actually use it on electric power alone for – Volkswagen claims – as much as 31 miles in the earlier models. Enough, in other words, for you to avoid using any fuel at all on short trips around town. And with its subtly sporty styling, the GTE will also happen to suit those looking for a Passat with a bit more pep.
The Passat GTE has had a bit of a chequered history, though. Launched in 2016, it went off sale in 2018 due to a bottleneck in getting cars certified for new emissions standards, only to emerge again in 2019 with a larger battery good now for a quoted range of up to 34 miles.
You can buy the GTE in standard form, in which it gets triple-zone climate control, a colour touchscreen with sat-nav, LED front and rear lights, front & rear parking sensors ad heated front seats, or you can upgrade to the GTE Advance, which adds larger alloy wheels, an upgraded sat-nav with a larger screen, a panoramic sunroof, a digital dashboard and leather seats.
Both share the same engine and gearbox: a 154bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol allied to a 113bhp electric motor, the combination of which is able to produce a maximum of 215bhp, driving through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
All GTEs come with adaptive suspension, which smooths out the ride, though even then you still find there’s some sharpness over the roughest of roads. And as long as you don’t expect the sort of sportiness to match the Passat’s looks, you’ll find it a decent enough thing to drive – honed and involving it is not, but it’s still composed enough to be satisfying to whirl through a few high-speed bends. You’ll also find the GTE’s remarkably quiet – especially when running on electric power alone.
Inside, things are fairly similar to the standard Volkswagen Passat, with a smart-looking interior hewn from the sort of materials that make you wonder whether it really is worth paying any more for a premium brand. Ambient lighting gives the GTE’s interior an even more upmarket demeanour, while all of the controls are logically placed and intuitive to use. The touchscreen infotainment system is a little less so – especially after 2016, when a new system was introduced that uses touch pads instead of physical buttons for the shortcut keys, which make it harder to press them without turning your eyes away from the road – but it’s still one of the better systems out there and blessed with intuitive and responsive software.
Whether you’re in the front or in the back of the Passat GTE you’ll find there’s loads of space. The battery packs mounted below the boot floor do rob some room, but as the boot in the conventional Passat is voluminous, you still end up with a respectable amount of space – and a boot that’s still usefully shaped.
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