Cost & verdict

Volkswagen Passat review

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Volkswagen Passat
Review continues below...
10 May 2015 22:00 | Last updated: 21 Aug 2018 10:21

In this review

Cost & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Volkswagen Passat saloon running costs

The majority of owners will run the Passat as a company car and the low CO2 emissions help make it one of the cheapest cars in the class to tax. Just remember that while the 1.6 diesels will be cheapest to fuel, it’s actually the lower-powered 1.4 petrol with an automatic gearbox that has the lowest benefit-in-kind tax payments.

Fleet providers will also find the leasing costs competitive. Equally important for private buyers or those fleet providers who buy their cars, the Passat’s resale values are better than those of the Ford Mondeo, if a touch behind those of the Audi A3 saloon and BMW 3 Series.

The Passat costs a fair bit more than the equivalent Mondeo to buy, although those looking to take out finance will be tempted by Volkswagen's promotions that regularly offer dealer deposit contributions and low-interest PCP deals.

Fuel economy is very good across the range, especially if you opt for the 1.6 or 148bhp 2.0 diesel engines. The 1.4 petrol motors aren’t bad for fuel economy either, but the 1.8 and 2.0 variants are best suited to low-mileage drivers. As for the plug-in hybrid GTE, it’s great on shorter journeys with a fully charged battery but fuel economy isn’t great on a long run, since it relies primarily on the petrol engine.

Volkswagen Passat saloon equipment

Entry-level S trim is fairly sparsely equipped. It gets air-con, alloy wheels, four electric windows and a touchscreen infotainment system, but a lot of desirable kit costs extra.

Next up is Bluemotion, which is aimed at company car drivers. Its equipment level is almost exactly the same as that in the S trim, though, so we’d look further up the range.

You get a lot more equipment for a reasonable price jump up to SE Business – it’s our recommended trim for private buyers. With automatic lights and wipers, partial-electric driver’s seat adjustment, cruise control and front and rear parking sensors, SE feels noticeably more luxurious than S. GT cars are worth a look if you like your luxuries; these come with leather and Alcantara upholstery, three-zone climate control and heated front seats.

We wouldn’t bother with R-line trim, which is expensive and simply gets sportier looks inside and out.

Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen Passat saloon reliability

The Passat didn’t do so well in our most recent reliability survey, appearing near the bottom of our executive car table. It was beaten by cars including the 3 Series, A4, Mondeo, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Skoda Superb. Volkswagen as a brand was ranked 22nd in our table of 32 manufacturers.

A three-year/60,000-mile warranty is standard, and extended warranties are available at a reasonable price.

Volkswagen Passat saloon safety and security

The Passat did well in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2014, gaining the maximum five stars overall, along with scores of 85% for adult protection, 87% for child protection and 66% for pedestrian protection.

Safety kit is similarly impressive. Every version comes with nine airbags, including rear side airbags and one to protect the driver's knees. There's also a system that warns you if you’re getting tired behind the wheel, an electronic parking brake with hill hold assist and systems that prime the car for an impending accident and help prevent secondary collisions after an initial impact.

SE Business versions and above are fitted with an automatic emergency braking system to help avoid or minimise low-speed shunts, as well as adaptive cruise control that keeps you a set distance from the vehicle in front.

There's a broad range of optional safety systems on top of that, including lane-keeping assist, blindspot warning and even a system that helps you reverse park when towing a trailer.

All models get an alarm and an immobiliser, while security experts Thatcham Research awarded the Passat five out of five for resisting theft and four out of five for resisting being broken into.

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Verdict

Classy, comfortable and refined, the Passat is a genuine rival to the established executive cars

  • Wide range of excellent diesel engines
  • Spacious and classy interior
  • Comfortable and refined at high speeds
  • Well equipped from SE Business upwards
  • Relatively cheap to own
  • Expensive next to non-premium rivals
  • Unsettled ride on scruffy surfaces
  • Versions with big wheels have too much road noise
  • Saloon boot opening is less practical
There are 5 trims available for the Passat saloon. Click to see details.See all versions
S
Entry-level S trim is pretty sparsely equipped. It has air-con, 16in alloy wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system, digital radio and a USB socket, but it’s well worth spending the extra on the m...View trim
Fuel Petrol, Diesel
What Car? Target Price from
£20,485
Average Saving £1,710
View Trim
OUR PICK
SE Business
We’d recommend upgrading to SE Business over S as you get sat-nav, LED headlights, ErgoComfort seats with greater adjustment, three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with automatic emer...View trim
Fuel Petrol, Diesel
What Car? Target Price from
£22,132
Average Saving £1,853
View Trim
Bluemotion
This trim level is reserved solely for the tax-efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine. It gets all the kit of S trim, but with 17in alloy wheels, lowered suspension, unique front and rear bumpers, and B...View trim
Fuel Diesel
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£23,092
Average Saving £1,938
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GT
A good option if you want lots of kit, but at this price the Passat is straying into the same territory as some more upmarket (albeit smaller and less well equipped) rivals. It comes with 18in whee...View trim
Fuel Petrol, Diesel
What Car? Target Price from
£23,944
Average Saving £2,011
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R Line
This just brings sportier styling inside and out, along with better LED headlights over GT trim. The most powerful petrol and diesel versions also get adjustable dampers...View trim
Fuel Petrol, Diesel
What Car? Target Price from
£25,044
Average Saving £2,106
View Trim