Most trims add electric seat adjustment and a broad range of movement
All Passats but entry-level S trim gets electrically adjustable lumbar support and backrest on the driver’s seat, as well as height, tilt- and thigh-support adjustment for the base, and even adjustable tilt on the headrests. This is a greater breadth of adjustment than you’ll get as standard in almost every rival. This, together with a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach, and good pedal placement, mean that this is one of the most comfortable cars in its class.
The dashboard is also simple to use. Most functions are controlled through the standard colour touchscreen, which can be tricky on the move, although the shortcut buttons help with that and many systems can also be controlled via the multifunction steering wheel that’s standard on all trims.
Volkswagen Passat Estate visibility
Better than most, and parking sensors are on all but base models
The Passat has class-leading visibility - on a high par with the Skoda Superb Estate - with large windows and fairly upright pillars. It’s still a big car, with a sloping bonnet and a long boot, so it can be tricky to judge the car’s extremities in tight spots, but all except entry-level S models get front and rear parking sensors. An automatic parking system (which senses if a space is big enough and steers into it for you) is available as an optional extra, together with rear-view or 360-degree camera systems and blindspot warning.
Volkswagen Passat Estate infotainment
Nav is expensive on S and SE, but standard touchscreen is good
All Passats get a 6.5in colour touchscreen, with USB input and Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming. The graphics are clear, the screen is responsive and the menus are easy to navigate with the help of the physical shortcut buttons. The screen icons can be a bit tricky to hit, but this is one of the most user-friendly touchscreens out there, albeit not as easy to use as the rotary-controlled systems on offer in BMW (iDrive) and Audi (MMI) rivals.
Sat-nav is standard on all trims from SE Business and voice control is also optional across the range, although it’s a fairly cheap option.
An 8.0in touchscreen is optional, and looks brilliant, but it does cost a fair bit extra, even on top-end models.
Volkswagen Passat Estate build quality
The best of the non-premium rivals
Compared with cheaper rivals such as the Ford Mondeo, the Passat has a really smart-looking interior. There’s a good variety of dense-feeling materials, and touches such as slick air vents and the small analogue clock make it look upmarket, so it betters even the Skoda Superb Estate, which is our favourite big family estate in part thanks to the decent perceived quality of its cabin.
Granted, low-end models with cloth seats can look a bit dour, but as you step up the Passat range and get a broader variety of contrasting trim highlights, and part-Alcantara seats from GT trim and up, it starts to feel really quite posh.
Regardless of trim, there’s a reassuring sense of solidity to everything, helped by superb fit and finish and well-damped switches.