Neat lines more attractive than last car - and better balanced than saloon
Tail end better resolved than slightly dumpy four-door
Restrained elegance within the cabin
Boot is a vast 1731 litres with the seats folded down
First DriveMore luxurious Passat offers plenty of kit and tonnes of space, and maintains its class lead over rivals from Vauxhall, Hyundai and Skoda
First DriveVW’s answer to the Audi A4 Allroad isn’t as effortless to drive as it ought to be
The sixth-generation VW Passat has already beaten its saloon car rivals in our recent group test (15 March). Now the estate version has arrived, a model VW hopes will make big in-roads into Britain’s fleet car ranks.The front end is already familiar, with its bold chrome grille, but from the B-pillar back the Estate has its own style – and it is genuinely stylish, the gently sloping roof, extended rear side windows and an angled tailgate making it more attractive than the saloon. Unlike some in this class, the rear window does not open independently of the tailgate.Inside, the rear load area is wide and flat, although a little high. Boot space is an impressive 603 litres – a useful 108-litre increase on the old one. It’s also 63 litres more than you’ll find in the Ford Mondeo Estate, 28 litres up on the Honda Accord Tourer and 73 litres over the Vauxhall Vectra Estate. With the rear seats folded, luggage capacity is increased to a massive 1731 litres. Extra storage is available under the floor.The added load space can be attributed to a series of factors. Firstly, the new Passat Estate is 92mm longer, 74mm wider, 19mm higher and rides on a wheelbase that’s grown by 6mm over its predecessor. It also forgoes the longitudinal engine layout of the model it replaces for a more space efficient transverse mounting, allowing the length of the cabin to be extended in the process.Volkswagen’s familiar four-cylinder direct injection petrol units will be available in 115bhp 1.6- and 148bhp 2.0-litre guises. They will be joined by a 250bhp 3.2-litre V6.The big sales are expected to come from a trio of diesels; the familiar 104bhp 1.9-litre along with a pair of 2.0-litre units, delivering 138bhp and 168bhp. The 2.0-litre diesel is the best value, and pushes the Estate to 62mph in 10.1secs and on to 126mph.The Passat Estate has never been a car you’d particularly yearn to own if the money you’re spending is your own. But as a tool for those whose working days are spent on the road it has always made a great deal of sense. And so it is with this version, sharing the same refinement, well-controlled ride and tidy, if not entertaining, handling as the saloon. With prices set to start around £16,000, private buyers should give it some serious thought, too.