Driving position and dashboard
Even entry-level SE versions get adjustable lumbar support, while SEL trim and upwards combine an electrically adjustable seatback with manual adjustments for height, seatbase angle and under-thigh support. This is a greater breadth of adjustment than you’ll find as standard in almost any rival. With a good range of reach and height adjustment to the steering wheel, too, it's easy to get comfortable and to remain that way throughout a long journey. There’s also a centre armrest that’s height adjustable, allowing you to rest your elbows even if you’re very tall.
The dashboard is simple to navigate and the standard analogue instrument cluster is easy to read. You can upgrade this to a 12.3in digital screen that shows more information, such as sat-nav mapping; it's a pricey option, but one that’s well worth considering for its ease of use and the extra information it provides. Certainly, if you’ll be using your Passat as a mobile office, it could prove invaluable.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
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 there’s little to obstruct all-round vision.
Even the entry-level SE comes with front and rear parking sensors as standard and you can add an automatic parking system; this determines whether a parking space is big enough and steers the car into it for you. Rear-view and 360deg camera systems are also available for extra guidance when manoeuvring.
Bright adaptive LED headlights are standard on all trims and can automatically shape their beam to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.
Sat nav and infotainment
All models have Bluetooth and a digital radio, controlled via a crystal-clear 8.0in colour touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring are standard, connecting wirelessly, like the systems found in BMW and Mini models. Sat-nav is standard from SE Nav trim upwards.
The system’s straightforward menus are easy to navigate, helped by shortcut buttons at either side of the display. The screen responds quickly to your touch and the graphics are of a high quality. There’s no physical rotary controller like you’d find with BMW’s iDrive system, but there are physical controls for the volume and to zoom in and out of maps.
A bigger, 9.2in touchscreen is optional and adds more functionality, but its benefits aren't worth the additional cash; in fact, in some ways it’s a backwards step, because it does away with physical controls altogether. The standard stereo comes with eight speakers, but audiophiles might want to try out the punchier Dynaudio premium system; it has 700 watts of power and plays through 10 speakers.
Inside, there’s a good variety of dense-feeling materials and plenty of eye-catching touches, including the chrome edging and analogue clock, to make it look and feel upmarket. There are soft-touch surfaces around the dashboard and on the door handles, with any scratchy plastics confined to surfaces lower down on the doors and centre console.