Volkswagen Passat Review 2019

Find out more about the Volkswagen Passat in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • - Spacious design
  • - Efficient diesel engines
  • - Excellent cruiser

Cons

  • - Rivals are better to drive
  • - Plain design
  • - Saloon can be impractical
  • MPG

    39 - 70

  • CO2

    106 - 163 g/km

  • Video

  • Price Guide

  • Trims

  • Summary

Model Review

Volkswagen likes to remain with model nameplates that are proven sellers, which is why the Passat name has been around since 1973.

It’s been hugely popular in the UK and the US, where the Passat is a top-selling car. The UK gets a different version than the one seen in the North American market, and while Brits tend to favour smaller hatchbacks and crossovers, the Passat is still a popular model for families needing more space than they would find in a smaller Golf or Polo.

The Passat has religiously been offered as a saloon and estate, but over the years it has also stemmed performance versions, and more recently four-door Coupe model called the CC. A rugged Alltrack version based on the estate, is also offered.

Impressively, we’re now in the eighth-generation of Passat, with this model — codenamed B8 — first going on sale in 2015. Based on the MQB platform, which underpins a number of Volkswagen Group products, it was the first Passat to be fitted with a plug-in hybrid; this model was known as the GTE, but is no longer available.

The Passat model shares much of its underpinnings with Audi’s more premium A4. A number of driver assistance systems – such as self-parking and autonomous emergency braking – were also introduced on the B8 Passat.

Latest model

Volkswagen revealed an updated version of the Passat at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, which brought in a new emphasis on tech.

The key selling point was a new ‘Travel Assist’, which is essentially high-speed adaptive cruise control that offers partially automated driving. It’s the first time such a system has been seen on a Volkswagen. Emergency steering assist also features, as do matrix LED headlights, which promise a greater view of the road ahead.

Another big improvement is the touchscreen, where the Passat is more connected than ever with the latest version of Volkswagen’s App Connect media interface. The system integrates smartphone apps to the main touchscreen, and allows some of the car’s functions to be accessed remotely.

Volkswagen also improved the range of its plug-in hybrid GTE model by around 10 miles, meaning it will be able to travel further on electric power.

The German manufacturer celebrated the launch with a limited-edition ‘Variant R-Line’ version, which comes in a new Moonstone Grey paint finish, as well as black styling accents, 19-inch alloy wheels and tinted rear lights.

*Please note that at the time of writing, no pricing or spec details were available for the updated car*

 

Value for money

In a world where small crossovers can easily cost considerably more than £20,000, the Passat seems quite affordable with its starting price of £22,195.

Standard equipment is also decent, with 16-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth and DAB radio. Keyless start is also included for the price. It does miss out on features such as parking sensors and cruise control, but these are offered on the keenly priced SE Business model, which starts at £23,985. Fully-loaded top-spec versions can seem expensive, but overall, the Passat offers good value for money, particularly when compared to more premium offerings.

Those in need of cheap family transport will find used Passats for as little as £500, but our main focus is the latest eighth-generation model. As the Passat is a popular fleet car, you’ll find that many have covered a lot of miles, with the cheapest 2015 cars being for sale at under £7,000, albeit with well over 100,000 miles on the clock. Something with around 70,000 miles on the clock will slot in underneath £10,000.

There are also some superb deals to be had on nearly-new examples, with cars less than a year-old costing as little as £14,000 — that’s £8,000 off list price! It’s worth paying around £1,500 more, though, for a higher-spec SE Business model.

 

Looks and image

The Passat is a car for those who are not fussed about standing out from the crowd, which means you get quite a plain but functional design inside and out. There’s little to be excited about, but that’s no bad thing, as it simply aids the Passat’s practicality. That said, high-spec GT and R-Line models are more stylish; they feature LED headlights, revised front and rear bumpers and larger alloy wheels.

It's much the same story inside. The Passat gets a well-built and ergonomic interior, albeit one that’s lacking in flair and imagination. That said, the interior offers a level of luxury above its rivals, thanks to the high-quality materials used throughout. It feels just as premium inside as a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class, which sits in the class above the Passat.

All models benefit from an eight-inch touchscreen with excellent smartphone connectivity, too. High-spec versions with leather seats and the excellent digital cockpit also help to give the VW an upmarket feel, which you won’t find with direct rivals from Ford, Mazda and Volkswagen.

The Passat is more tailored towards comfort and refinement, which results in it being a sublime cruiser, particularly when fitted with the efficient 2.0-litre diesel engines, which seem a perfect fit in the Passat.

Even with the larger 18-inch wheels found on the GT and R-Line model, the ride remains supple. It’s effortlessly comfortable to cover long distances in, which is why it’s become a favourite with the fleet market. The Mazda 6 is a more enjoyable car to drive, but the Passat’s dynamics have improved over the last car; a fact that is highlighted by limited body roll and decent feel from the steering.

Video Review

Space and practicality

The Passat is a very spacious model regardless of whether you choose the saloon or estate, though the four-door bodystyle means it’s not quite as practical as rivals with hatchback boots, such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb.

In saloon guise, the Passat offers a huge 586-litre load bay, which beats most rivals, although accessing it isn’t the simplest task because of the boot’s relatively narrow opening. Should you want a more practical shape, there is also the option to have the Passat as an Estate, which upgrades the space to a mighty 650 litres, which is again one of the largest in its class.

In a welcome deviation from the norm, the GTE isn’t any less practical than the standard Passat in this regard.

The eighth-generation Passat adds an extra 79mm to the wheelbase, which results in a far more spacious interior. Rear seat space is excellent, even for taller adults, thanks to a plentiful quantity of legroom and headroom. The transmission tunnel does impede on the middle-seat passenger’s available space, but that’s the case with most petrol and diesel models.

The Passat was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP when tested in 2014, with high scores recorded in all categories. Unfortunately, safety tech has moved on a lot in that time, which means the Passat feels a bit outdated now by not being fitted with tech such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard. A driver attention alert system is offered as standard, although it’s not until SE Business grade when AEB is fitted as standard, alongside adaptive cruise control.

Engines

The Passat is offered with a fantastic range of both petrol and diesel engines.

The entry-level petrol option is a turbocharged 1.4-litre turbocharged unit, which is offered with 123bhp or 148bhp outputs. Both can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. Next is a 177bhp 1.8-litre unit, which is paired to a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

At the top of the petrol line-up is a 217bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which comes with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The diesel options start with a super-efficient 118bhp 1.6-litre engine, which is also offered as an even more wallet-friendly ‘BlueMotion’ variant, which features revised aerodynamics to help improve fuel economy. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is our favourite in the line-up, and comes with either 148bhp or 187bhp, with the former coming with a choice of manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox only. The range-topping engine is a twin-turbo version of the 2.0-litre diesel, which produces 237bhp, and is able to accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds.

A plug-in hybrid GTE model is also offered, which utilises a 154bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine paired to an electric motor to produce a combined 218bhp. It has an electric-only range of 31 miles.

Running costs

The plug-in hybrid GTE will be the best bet for those wanting to reduce their running costs, as Volkswagen claims the model is capable of 156mpg, and has CO2 emissions of just 40g/km. That said, in real-world conditions, it likely can’t match these claims.

The diesel engines will likely be the best option for most drivers, with the 1.6-litre and lower-output 2.0-litre units being the best options for many drivers. The former returns up to 76.3mpg, and the 148bhp variant of the latter unit manages 67.3mpg. CO2 emissions range between 95g/km and 109g/km for these, with increased efficiency if you opt for Bluemotion spec.

The petrol engines are not quite as frugal, but offer good enough efficiency for drivers covering shorter journeys and fewer miles.

Servicing costs should also be affordable, while only those looking at the range-topping engines should worry about their cars incurring an additional £310 in road tax for five years after first registration, because of a list price of over £40,000.

Insurance groups range between 12 and 28, and entry-level S models are surprisingly more expensive to insure because they don’t come with autonomous emergency braking as standard.

Things to look out for

The Passat shares many of its components with models across the Volkswagen Group, and reliability issues should be few and far between. However, there have been a few issues reported with the latest Passat. These include reports of the rear disc brakes corroding, while the seven-speed DSG automatic transmission doesn’t have the best reputation either.

Rivals

The large family car sector might not be as popular as it once was, but there are still a good number of options to choose from. Key rivals include the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Mazda 6, Skoda Superb and Kia Optima, all of which are also available in estate form.

If you are looking at a more expensive Passat, more premium rivals to consider include the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

Depreciation

Despite the Passat’s premium badge, it hasn’t held its value particularly well, with big discounts offered on nearly-new models across the range. The Passat makes a fantastic used buy thanks to it being one of the greatest depreciating Volkswagens.

Which Passat to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.5 TSI SE 4dr

Most MPG

2.0 TDI EVO SE 4dr DSG

Fastest Model (0-60)

2.0 TSI 272 R Line Edition 4MOTION 5dr DSG

Trims Explained

Prices start from £22,195 for the S model, which includes a decent amount of standard equipment. It features 16-inch alloy wheels, a space saver spare wheel, LED rear lights, a leather steering wheel and gearstick, plus manual lumbar adjustment for the front seats.

S

Starting price for a new model:

£23,170

R-Line

Starting price for a new model:

£28,635

Summary

  1. Excellent built quality
  2. Offered as a hatchback and estate
  3. Plug-in hybrid available
  4. Broad engine choice
  5. Comfortable cruiser
  6. Reserved styling
  7. Hugely practical
  8. Facelifted model expected to go on sale by 2020
  9. Fantastic value on the used market
  10. An excellent family car, regardless of body style

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