There are no petrol offerings in the Passat Estate range, which kicks off with an efficient 1.6-litre diesel that’s adequate even at a high-speed cruise, but you do have to work it hard through the six-speed gearbox if you want decent acceleration; you’re conscious that it’s a low-powered engine in a big car. Plus, in the normal ebb and flow of town traffic, it can feel as if the engine is revving a touch too high in third gear and a bit too low in fourth, so you may be changing gear quite a bit.
We’d recommend the more flexible 148bhp 2.0 diesel. It’s punchy enough to offer satisfying pace and easy overtaking if you want it, and it pulls willingly from low revs, so it’s not worth paying the extra for the 188bhp version of this engine unless you really value strong acceleration.
All Passat Estate models bar the 1.6 Bluemotion can be had with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox – a six-speeder on the 148bhp and 188bhp models, or a seven-speed option on the non-Bluemotion 1.6. The seven-speed auto is standard on the twin-turbo 237bhp 2.0 TDI. This top-end 2.0-litre diesel comes with four-wheel drive and has performance that’s verging on hot-hatch fast, helped by the quick-shifting gearbox.
There is another four-wheel drive Passat Estate model, called the Alltrack, which is available with a manual-only 2.0 TDI 150 or auto-only 2.0 TDI 190 engine, and offers a higher ride height, off-road specific driver aids and more rugged look.
All the 2.0-litre diesel models, including the automatics, can tow up to 2.0 tonnes, while the four-wheel drive models can pull a healthy 2.2 tonnes.