Driving position and dashboard
All Passat Estates get adjustable lumbar support and height adjustment on the driver’s seat. This is a greater breadth of adjustment than you’ll find as standard on many rivals and, combined with good steering wheel reach and height movement, means the Passat Estate is one of the more comfortable cars in its class.
The dashboard is also simple to use, with all the often-used knobs and buttons clearly labelled and easy to reach. A useful option is the Active Info Display, comprising a 12.3in screen with configurable digital instruments in place of the standard dials. It lets you show lots more information clearly and just below your eye-line. You can also add a head-up display, although this is projected onto a plastic screen and in our experience isn’t very clear so we’d avoid the extra cost.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The Passat Estate has excellent visibility that's on a par with the Skoda Superb Estate, thanks to 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. That said, all 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 360deg camera systems and blindspot warning.
Sat nav and infotainment
All versions come with an 8.0in touchscreen with super-clear graphics and very user-friendly menus, plus gets DAB radio, Bluetooth and wireless smartphone mirroring, so you can use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto without plugging your phone in. It’s only beaten by the premium systems in the BMW 3 Series Touring, which uses a rotary dial controller and so is easier to use on the move.
If you move up to SEL, you get sat-nav along with speed limit display, 3D maps and online features including live traffic, weather and local parking space reports.
A bigger 9.2in touchscreen is optional and adds more functionality, but the 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 makes the interior look upmarket. It definitely feels like an upgrade of the already smart Skoda Superb Estate, our favourite big family estate, but it's still some way behind the excellent quality of an A4 Avant.