The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
All Passat Estates offer adjustment for lumbar support and height on the driver’s seat. There's a greater breadth of adjustment than you’ll find as standard on many rivals; combined with plentiful steering wheel reach and height movement, the Passat Estate is one of the more comfortable cars in its class.
The dashboard is also simple to use; all the most frequently used knobs and buttons are clearly labelled and easy to reach. A useful option is the Active Info Display, which comprises a 12.3in screen with configurable digital instruments that take the place of the standard dials. I allows far more information to be displayed clearly just below your eye-line. You can also add a head-up display, but this projects is information onto a plastic screen and isn't very clear in our experience. We’d avoid the extra cost.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The Passat Estate's excellent visibility is on a par with that of the Skoda Superb Estate, thanks to its large windows and fairly upright windscreen pillars. It’s still a big car, though, and its long, sloping bonnet and long boot can make it tricky to judge its extremities in tight spots. That said, all models get front and rear parking sensors to help when manoeuvring in tight spaces.
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 360deg camera systems. Blind spot warning is also available.
Sat nav and infotainment
All versions come with an 8.0in touchscreen that offers super-clear graphics and very user-friendly menus. There's also DAB radio, Bluetooth and wireless smartphone mirroring, so you can use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto without plugging your phone in. We prefer the BMW 3 Series Touring's system, though; its rotary-dial controller is far more intuitive, less distracting, and consequently safer to use on the move.
If you move up to SEL trim you get 3D sat-nav maps and a speed limit display. Online features include live traffic and weather information, as well as convenient services such as assistance with finding a parking space.
A bigger 9.2in touchscreen is optional and adds more functionality, but its benefits aren't worth the additional cash. The standard stereo comes with eight speakers, but audiophiles might want to try out the punchier Dynaudio premium system: it has 700 watts of power and plays through 10 speakers.
Compared with cheaper rivals such as the Ford Mondeo Estate, the Passat Estate has a really smart-looking interior. There's a good variety of dense-feeling materials, well-damped air-vent sliders and a small analogue clock, all of which helps to makes the interior look upmarket.
The distinctive Renault Megané Sport Tourer is stylish and sop...
With rakish looks, the Proceed offers a touch more glamour tha...
In hybrid form, the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a unique...
Comfortable, classy, well priced and incredibly spacious...