Volkswagen Passat review

Category: Estate car

The 2024 Passat is the biggest version yet – and you can only have it as an estate car

VW Passat front cornering
  • VW Passat front cornering
  • VW Passat rear cornering
  • VW Passat dashboard
  • VW Passat boot open
  • VW Passat interior driver display
  • VW Passat right driving
  • VW Passat front cornering
  • VW Passat rear cornering
  • VW Passat front left static
  • VW Passat right static
  • VW Passat rear static
  • VW Passat front detail
  • VW Passat alloy wheel detail
  • VW Passat rear lights detail
  • VW Passat interior front seats
  • VW Passat interior back seats
  • VW Passat infotainment touchscreen
  • VW Passat interior steering wheel detail
  • VW Passat interior detail
  • VW Passat interior panoramic roof
  • VW Passat front cornering
  • VW Passat rear cornering
  • VW Passat dashboard
  • VW Passat boot open
  • VW Passat interior driver display
  • VW Passat right driving
  • VW Passat front cornering
  • VW Passat rear cornering
  • VW Passat front left static
  • VW Passat right static
  • VW Passat rear static
  • VW Passat front detail
  • VW Passat alloy wheel detail
  • VW Passat rear lights detail
  • VW Passat interior front seats
  • VW Passat interior back seats
  • VW Passat infotainment touchscreen
  • VW Passat interior steering wheel detail
  • VW Passat interior detail
  • VW Passat interior panoramic roof
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The estate version of the Volkswagen Passat has just celebrated its 50th birthday, and to mark the occasion, it's become the only body shape available in the Passat range.

You read that right – the latest Passat is available only as an estate car. Volkswagen hopes you'll consider the VW ID 7 electric hatchback if you're looking for an executive car.

While the "Estate" in its name has been dropped, the Passat continues to offer space and practicality, making it an attractive choice for family buyers. It’s bigger than before and has the same suspension, engines and gearboxes as the new Skoda Superb Estate

VW and Skoda are not the only car makers offering roomy family haulers of course, so potential buyers might also be considering, say, the BMW 3 Series Touring and Citroën C5 X. If they have a slightly bigger budget, the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate are in the running too.

The new VW Passat has already achieved success in our Tow Car Awards. Read on to find out how it ranks among the best estate cars...

Overview

The VW Passat has always successfully bridged the gap between similar-sized mainstream rivals and more premium options. This ninth-generation Passat provides all the space and comfort you’ll need while lugging everything you can fit into the boot. Factor in a smart interior and it’s definitely an estate car that's worth considering.

  • Competent engines
  • Spacious interior and boot
  • Stable and easygoing dynamics
  • More expensive than some rivals
  • Some fundamental functions are buried in the touchscreen
  • Slightly choppy low speed ride on standard suspension
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Hushed cruising manners
  • +Optional adaptive suspension brings a comfy ride

Weaknesses

  • -BMW 3 Series Touring is more entertaining to drive

The VW Passat will initially be offered with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine, which develops 148bhp and has plenty of poke for everyday driving, with a 0-62mph time of 9.2 seconds.

Diesel power won’t be offered (unlike with the Skoda Superb) but there will be two eHybrid plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), one with 201bhp, the other with 268bhp. They combine a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and a 19.7kWh battery.

When we tried a near-production example of the 268bhp eHybrid, it kept up with traffic on electric power alone, with the petrol engine kicking in only when pressing on. The PHEVs have an official electric-only range of 62 miles, but 50 miles is more realistic in real-world driving. That beats the official ranges of the BMW 330e Touring and Citroën C5 X PHEV.

All Passats have a DSG automatic gearbox (the mild-hybrid version has seven speeds while the PHEVs have six).

As ever, long-distance comfort is high on the Passat’s priority list. Lower trim levels come with relatively firm suspension that can result in a slightly choppy low-speed ride, but it settles down nicely as you build up speed. 

Top-spec R-Line trim comes with DCC Pro adaptive suspension that delivers a calmer and polished ride (it’s available as an option on all other Passats).

Volkswagen Passat image
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Models with DCC Pro have a selection of drive modes, including a customisable Individual mode offering 15 firmness increments – the softest setting makes very light work of speed bumps and remains smooth on the motorway.

There’s also a preset Comfort mode, which trades a little softness for tighter body control, and a Sport mode that does the opposite. In Sport, body lean is reduced and the steering gains weight for more confidence during cornering. 

The Passat’s handling is much more composed than the C5 X’s but it never puts as wide a grin on your face on a twisty road in the way a 3 Series Touring can.

Road noise is well suppressed on motorways, making the Passat a hushed long distance cruiser. From mid-spec Elegance trim, you get laminated side windows to further cut wind noise.

There’s a mild drone from the 1.5-litre engine when it’s working hard but it remains quiet in everyday driving. The stop-start system works much more discreetly than the C5 X’s system, while the brakes are less grabby too. And while the C5 X has a slightly softer low-speed ride, the Passat deals with sharp edges with less of thump from the suspension.

To read more about the Passat's impressive abilities as a towing car see our Tow Car Awards page.

VW Passat rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Comfortable driving position
  • +Good material quality
  • +Large 15in touchscreen option

Weaknesses

  • -Fiddly touch-sensitive ventilation controls

All versions of the VW Passat offer plenty of seat and steering-wheel adjustment so the driver can find a comfortable position. Even entry-level Life trim gets electric backrest adjustment and a massage function to boost comfort. 

Large windows help with all-round visibility, but the Passat is a big car and its sloping bonnet can make it a little tricky to judge its extremities in tight spots. That said, all models get front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera to help when manoeuvring in tight spaces.

Standard-fit LED headlights help out at night, while mid-level Elegance trim and above come with more advanced matrix LED units. They actively dim sections of your headlights when using high beams to avoid blinding other road users.

The Passat’s dashboard is similar in design to the VW Tiguan SUV's, and while it looks tidy and simple to use, you will have to rely on the touchscreen quite heavily to find most of the functions.

In a potential backwards step for usability, the new Passat loses the physical climate controls that were a feature in the previous-generation car, instead requiring you to prod touchpads below the screen to change the temperature.

The Passat also misses out on the Tiguan’s physical rotary dial for volume and drive mode selection.

More positively, you get proper buttons on the steering wheel rather than the annoying haptic controls you get in VW's ID electric cars. Plus, the gear selector has been moved to the side of the steering wheel, freeing up extra space in the centre console for odds and ends.

All trims include a 10.3in digital driver’s display, which can be configured to show a variety of information in different layouts, and is much clearer and versatile than the one in the Citroën C5 X. A head-up display is available as an option.

You get a 12.9in infotainment touchscreen as standard, and a 15in screen is available as an option in conjunction with the head-up display. Both use an upgraded version of Volkswagen’s infotainment software and you can add custom shortcuts at the top of the screen for convenience.

The standard stereo has eight speakers but you can upgrade it to a 700W, 11-speaker Harman Kardon system if you wish.

When it comes to quality, there are plenty of soft leather-like surfaces and high-quality plastics. There's a good variety of dense-feeling materials, well-damped air-vent sliders and buttons that help the Passat feel more upmarket than the interiors of the C5 X and Peugeot 508 SW.

Interior overview

Strengths Comfortable driving position; good material quality; large 15in touchscreen option

Weaknesses Fiddly touch-sensitive ventilation controls

VW Passat dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Lots of space for occupants
  • +Huge boot 

Weaknesses

  • -Rivals have more versatile folding rear seats

As well as being longer and wider than its predecessor, the latest VW Passat estate car has a greater distance between its front and rear wheels. As a result, interior space is even more generous than before. 

Not that front-seat occupants ever had an issue, with plenty of head and leg room available, plus more elbow room than in a BMW 3 Series Touring.

There are plenty of useful storage areas, including a lidded central cubby that doubles up as a cushioned armrest, two cupholders and a tray to charge up your phone wirelessly, or by plugging it into the USB-C sockets beside it.

Back-seat passengers will notice the biggest difference in space compared with the previous-generation Passat. With limo-like levels of leg room, a 6ft occupant can stretch out when sitting behind someone of equal height.

They’ll find plenty of head room too, although we’d avoid the optional panoramic roof because this greatly reduces the amount of clearance between the roof lining and your head if you’re around 6ft tall. 

A central rear passenger isn't quite as well catered for, because their seat is mounted higher than the outer two – which results in less head room – and there’s a tall hump in the floor that they have to straddle.

Broad rear door openings make access easy, and rear storage space includes map and phone pockets on the backs of the front seats. The fold-down centre armrest has two cupholders and a tray that holds a smartphone upright so you can watch a video on it.

All Passats come with a 60/40 split rear seatback and a through-loading hatch in the middle. The Citroën C5 X has the same seat split, but the 3 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate have more versatile, 40/20/40 split seatbacks.

There are levers in the load area that allow you to conveniently fold the spring-loaded seat backs from the rear of the car without having to open the side doors.

The Passat’s boot is vast. Mild-hybrid versions offer a boot capacity of 690 litres – much more than you get in the Peugeot 508 SW and even more than in the pricier E-Class Estate. The Skoda Superb Estate offers a similarly huge boot.

The load lip is fairly low, so you don’t have to lift items too high to slide them into the boot. The load area is square and uniform in shape, with useful hooks and a 12V power socket mounted on the side. An electrically powered bootlid is standard on all trim levels.

VW Passat boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Lots of standard kit
  • +PHEV can charge up more quickly than rivals

Weaknesses

  • -Higher trim levels are as pricey as premium cars

If you're considering an outright purchase, you'll find VW Passat list prices seem steep next to the Citroën C5 X and Peugeot 508 SW, and you can have the closely-related Skoda Superb Estate in entry-level form for less. You can check the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.

The Passat's running costs should be reasonable. With an official fuel consumption figure of around 50mpg, the 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol shouldn’t cost too much to run.

The PHEVs will need to be charged up as frequently as possible for the best economy. Unlike most rivals, Passat eHybrids can be plugged into 50kW public DC chargers, which makes charging up much quicker than with a BMW 3 Series Touring (which is limited to AC and has a maximum charging rate of 3.7kW).

Meanwhile, the Passat is expected to lose its value more slowly than the 508 SW, but more quickly than the 3 Series Touring and C5 X.

Company car users looking for a model with low CO2 emissions would be wise to consider one of the eHybrids. They compare very well with rivals for BIK tax due to the competitive electric-only range.

The Passat's entry-level Life trim provides plenty of equipment, including 17in alloys wheels, three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control and ambient lighting.

Moving up to mid-level Elegance trim adds extra massage settings for the front seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, additional ambient lighting colour options and heated front seats.

Top-spec R-Line adds bigger 18in wheels, Dynamic Chassis Control and sporty styling upgrades.

The Passat is too new to have been included in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. However, as a manufacturer, Volkswagen came a slightly disappointing 22nd out of 32 brands, finishing below BMW, Citroën and Peugeot.

Volkswagen’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty is pretty par for the course, and the 3 Series Touring edges it with its unlimited mileage cover.

The Passat has yet to be tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP. All versions come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and traffic-sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance and a system that monitors driver fatigue.


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VW Passat interior driver display

FAQs

  • Yes. The Passat is being launched at around the same time as the new Skoda Superb Estate and they share lots of parts, as well as being built at the same factory in the Czech Republic. One key difference in the UK is that the Superb is available with a diesel engine but the Passat isn't.

  • VW isn’t considered a luxury car brand but the Passat promises to be more upmarket than more value-focused estate cars in terms of refinement and material quality. Estate cars from premium brands include the Audi A6 Avant, the BMW 5 Series Touring and the Mercedes E-Class Estate.

At a glance
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Target Price from £34,428
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From £28,835
RRP price range £38,500 - £51,160
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol parallel phev, petrol
MPG range across all versions 50.4 - 706.2
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £352 / £2,469
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £705 / £4,939
Available colours