Used Volkswagen Passat Estate 2001 - 2005 review

Category: Estate car

A formidable all-round family load-lugger

Volkswagen Passat Estate (99 - 05)
  • Volkswagen Passat Estate (99 - 05)
  • Volkswagen Passat Estate (99 - 05)
Used Volkswagen Passat Estate 2001 - 2005 review
Star rating

What's the used Volkswagen Passat estate like?

The Passat is generally a refined, comfortable family car. It's all bolted tightly together and the cabin is sound-proofed well against all sources of noise, whether it be the wind, road or engine.

So it's a quiet cruiser, then, and a pretty effortless one so long as you steer clear of the basic 98bhp 1.9 TDI 100 turbodiesel. The other engines all deliver fine performance, but this is no sporting car. It's competent enough, but even with sports suspension or 4Motion four-wheel drive, the handling is no match for a Ford Mondeo's.


A formidable all-round family load-lugger

  • The Passat is comfortable, spacious and well-built
  • It's dull to drive and the styling is conservative

The cabin is, though. High-quality materials and tight panel gaps shout class wherever you look. It's also well equipped, full of useful storage areas and spacious.

The well shaped boot is easy to get at but not as roomy as some. The rear seats split and fold, and there are chrome hooks for lashing down cargo.

Ownership cost

What used Volkswagen Passat estate will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Volkswagen Passat estate?

Everyday running costs are pretty reasonable, especially given the car's superb all-round ability as a family motor. All but two of the engines will give you more than 30mpg and the diesels stretch that to over 40mpg. Of our two favoured models, the 1.9 TDI 130 is good for an official average of 47.9mpg and the 1.8 T petrol 32.8mpg.

Avoid the W8 and V6 petrol cars, which will hurt your wallet. You'll get mid-20s to the gallon at best from the V6 and just over 20mpg (if you're lucky) with the W8. Service costs will also be significantly higher.

For the lower-powered models, maintenance will set you back roughly the same as for a Mondeo and, in some cases, less. You can cut the labour bill by using an independent VW specialist. Insurance is broadly comparable to a Mondeo's, too. So all in all, a good result.

Our recommendations

Which used Volkswagen Passat estate should I buy?

The 128bhp 1.9 TDI 130 is a good choice for economy and easy pulling power. And, although it can be rumbly even when working only moderately hard, it's our favourite engine in the range. A good alternative is the turbocharged 1.8 T petrol, which is strong, more refined and, while not as easy on fuel, should still give over 30mpg.

The 2.0 petrol is also good, although it can get boomy if it's worked very hard. You can up the performance with the 2.3 V5, 2.8 V6 and, frankly quite daft, 4.0 W8. There's also a broad-shouldered, smooth 2.5 V6 TDI turbodiesel.

Four-wheel-drive 4Motion cars improve handling, but not enough to warrant the blunted economy, so choose one only if you really need all-wheel-drive traction.

In ascending order, trim levels are S, SE and Sport. Even the most basic car comes with plenty of creature comforts and safety kit. ESP stability control became standard in December 2001, but cars after May 2002 also have curtain airbags and Brake Assist, so it's best to buy one from after this date.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Volkswagen Passat estate?