Volkswagen is moving its Passat upmarket. Traditionally a rival for the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra, VW is scrapping the car's SE trim level and introducing a new, richer, better-equipped and more expensive replacement called Highline, in the hope of poaching a few registrations from the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. The new Passat Highline comes as standard with heated front seats, full leather upholstery, a multifunction steering wheel and new 17in multispoke alloy wheels. Air conditioning, an eight-speaker stereo system and cruise control are also part of the deal, as are chrome window surrounds and body-coloured bumper strips.All this extra kit does comes at a premium, albeit not a large one. Passat Highline prices start at £18,890 (a £250 increase over the outgoing SE) for the 1.8-litre TSI saloon, rising to £20,990 for a DSG-equipped 2.0-litre diesel four-door.

Ian Tonkin