Volkswagen Passat saloon driving position
Even entry-level S versions get adjustable lumbar support, while SE Business and upwards get you an electrically adjustable backrest combined with manual adjustments elsewhere, including for height, seatbase angle and the extendable under-thigh support.
This is a greater breadth of adjustment than you’ll get as standard in almost every rival. Together with a good range of reach and height adjustment to the steering wheel it's relatively easy to get comfortable. Some people find the pedals are too near the driver, which makes the driving position feel less affable than the best, such as the BMW 3 Series, but it's something you get used to rather than take real issue with.
The dashboard is simple to navigate, and the standard analogue dials easy to read. You can swap these for an optional 12.3in digital screen (standard in GT trim) that shows not just the dials but lots more information, such as sat-nav mapping (where navigation is fitted). It's a pricey option, but well worth thinking about for the ease with which lots of information can be displayed clearly.
Volkswagen Passat saloon visibility
The Passat is up there with the class best when it comes to visibility. It’s still a big car with a sloping bonnet and long boot, so it can be tricky to judge the car’s extremities, but wide windows and fairly upright pillars mean you’ve got comparatively good vision all round.
All but entry-level S models come with front and rear parking sensors as standard, while an automatic parking system (which detects if a space is big enough and steers the car into it for you) is a reasonably priced option. A rear-view or 360deg camera system are also available if you're parking phobic.
Bright LED headlights are standard (again, except entry-level S trim) that do a marvellously illuminating job at night. For a sensible premium you can upgrade these to adaptive LED headlights, which can keep the main beams on more often by creating shadows around any cars in front.
Volkswagen Passat saloon infotainment
All models get a DAB and Bluetooth, plus an crystal clear, 8.0in colour touchscreen that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring; the latter lets you use many of your smartphone apps via the screen. Sat-nav is standard from SE Business trim upwards.
How easy is the system to use? The physical rotary controllers you get in an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series are less distracting (than a touchscreen) to operate on the move, but everything else about the Passat's infotainment is top drawer: the straightforward menus are easy to navigate (helped by shortcut buttons at either side of the display) and the screen responds quickly to your touch.
A bigger 9.2in touchscreen is optional and adds more functionality, but the benefits aren't worth the additional cash. Oddly, considering most cars in the class have it as standard, voice control is an option, although a relatively inexpensive one.
The standard stereo comes with eight speakers and sounds decent, but if you love your 'sounds', then try out the punchier Dynaudio premium system with 700 watts and 10 speakers.
Volkswagen Passat saloon build quality
There’s a good variety of dense-feeling materials and plenty of nice touches, such as the chrome edging and the analogue clock, that make it look as well as feel upmarket. Granted, it's not quite up to the current BMW 3 Series' standards of finish, and nothing in the class is as beautifully made as an Audi A4, but the Passat feels like a genuine step up from a Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia.