What's the used Volkswagen Passat estate like?
Back when this generation of Passat was launched in 2005, the market for four and five-door family cars of similar size and shape was beginning to contract at an alarming rate, thanks to the rise in popularity of MPVs and, a little later, SUVs.
Buyers were being tempted away by desirable high-rise cars that had more flexible and practical interiors than even the estate versions of the popular saloons could offer. A further problem for the Passat was that it was a rather featureless car that didn't really sell itself well in the showrooms and in the glossy brochures. Indeed when the flair was handed out at VW HQ, the Passat was last in the queue.
In fact there aren't many bad things to say about the Volkswagen Passat Estate, but we may as well get them out of the way first. To start with, despite its large exterior dimensions, there's not as much boot space as you might think. The earlier models weren't as roomy as the contemporary Honda Accord, for example, and it doesn't have as many innovative features. Then there's the electric handbrake, which was one of the first on a production car like this and one that takes a lot of getting used to.
There's still plenty to like about the Passat, though. It has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, the cabin is large and comfortable with great seats, the driving position is fully adjustable and there's a logical, well laid out dashboard. All round visibility is impressive, too.
Last, but not least, the Passat is an excellent drive. Unlike its predecessors, the chassis makes the car feel nimble and alert, and the ride is always comfortable. Models fitted with the optional Sport suspension make for an even sharper drive.
There's also a range of good petrol and diesel engines available, of which the pick is undoubtedly the 2.0-litre TDI 140 diesel, which endows the Passat with the best compromise between performance and economy.
A comprehensive facelift in 2010 gave the Passat a whole new, more angular look from grille to rear lights and encompassed a restyled interior. With its standard roof-rails, the newer Passat was a sharp-looking car, with the estate looking more elegant than the saloon. The boot was larger, too, and notably capacious.
The star of the new petrol engine line up was a downsized 120bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine, selling alongside a 158bhp 1.8-litre TSI unit and a 207bhp 2.0-litre TSI powerplant. Diesel models would still account for the lion's share of sales and here customers got a 103bhp 1.6-litre TDI unit and the familiar 2.0-litre TDI engine available in two power outputs - 138bhp and 167bhp.
2012 saw the introduction of the rugged Passat Alltrack estate, an all-wheel drive and raised-up car using power from either the 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel with a six-speed manual gearbox or the 167bhp 2.0-litre TDI unit with the six-speed DSG automatic transmission.
It's a well-equipped and solid-feeling car, the Passat, in any guise, and one that feels more modern today than its age would suggest, and also one that, with careful shopping, would make an excellent used buy.