From £23,0608

The refocused Passat is targeting a more upmarket audience, but will need to prove itself against established performers like the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C-Class

This is the one that’ll have the competition worried. Not just the traditional competition, either. The Volkswagen Passat has been troubling the large family car market for years, but this time Volkswagen isn’t just targeting the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia.

Not when the wider Volkswagen Group has a new Skoda Superb that will muscle its way farther into that market. No, this time, as well as competing against high-end large family cars, VW is ever more serious about pitching the Passat against compact executives such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The truth is that it’s one of the few mainstream manufacturers with a sufficiently carefully nurtured brand cachet to do it.

Now in its eighth generation, more than 22 million Passats have been sold worldwide since the original was launched in 1973

In reality, though, the previous generation Passat has been on the way to this position for years. The new version is its eighth generation, and more than 22 million have been sold worldwide since the original was launched in 1973 (and even then it was a development of 
the Audi 80, Volkswagen having 
just acquired the brand).

Almost half a million of those sales have been in the UK, and with good reason. The Passat hasn’t often led the class outright – at least, not for those who like their saloon cars to come with a modicum of driver enjoyment and involvement – but if you are a buyer who puts interior 
feel and refinement at the top of your list of priorities, the big Volkswagen has been as good a buy as you’ll 
find at this level.

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The latest iteration of the Passat arrives in five trim levels, from S through to R-Line, and priced from £22,680 in saloon form. Almost the whole range is diesel except for a the petrol-hybrid GTE that tops the range. Estates carry a £1530 premium, while there is also the inclusion of a rugged 4x4 Alltrack estate, while the coupé-like four-door CC, due in 2017, is a different proposition again.

Our test car is a 2.0 TDI 190 GT saloon with the optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.


Volkswagen Passat FAQs

Is the Volkswagen Passat available as a plug-in hybrid or electric?

Yes it is. The Volkswagen Passat was one of the plug-in hybrid pioneers, its dedicated GTE trim level combining performance with low emissions and strong efficiency. Like all Passat models, the latest GTE is only available as an estate, but it packs a turbocharged 2.0-litre and an electric motor that deliver 215bhp and a claimed electric range of 37 miles. Currently there’s no all-electric Passat, Volkswagen’s closest EV alternative being the ID4.

What are the Volkswagen Passat's main rivals?

With the increased popularity of SUV models, family estate cars such as the Volkswagen Passat have fallen out of fashion. Even so, there are still plenty of similar machines to choose from, including the Mazda 6 Tourer, which isn’t as spacious but is sharper to drive. The closely related Skoda Superb estate is even roomier thanks to its vast boot. Upmarket rivals include the BMW 3 Series Tourer and Audi A4 Avant, although both cost more and carry less.

How much power does the Volkswagen Passat have?

Having dropped the Passat saloon from the line-up in European markets, Volkswagen has also reduced the choice of engines for the remaining estate version. Both the 1.5-litre TSI petrol and 2.0-litre TDI diesel deliver the same 148bhp, although the latter has more torque, with 266lb ft compared to 184lb ft. Most powerful is the plug-in hybrid GTE, which serves up a useful 215bhp and can accelerate from 0-62mph in a brisk 7.6 seconds.

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What choices of gearbox are there for the Volkswagen Passat?

There’s a fairly familiar choice of gearboxes available with the Volkswagen Passat, with entry-level models getting a six-speed manual. As with other models in the brand’s line-up, this is light and precise transmission with a progressive clutch, making it easy to drive. A smooth and fast-shifting seven-speed twin-clutch DSG automatic is standard on R-Line versions and optional on all the others. The exception is the plug-in GTE, which gets its own six-speed DSG automatic.

Where is the Volkswagen Passat built?

Unlike many Volkswagen models that are built in many different factories around the world, the Passat is only assembled in three plants. In Germany it rolls off the line at the brand’s Emden and Zwickau, the latter also being the hub for the brand’s ID electric car production and the former site of the Trabant factory. The Passat is also constructed at the firm’s joint venture FAW-VW joint venture facility in Changchun, China.

How many generations of the Volkswagen Passat have there been?

The Passat is one of Volkswagen’s longest serving models and can trace its roots back to 1973, a year before the smaller Golf made its debut. Officially there have been eight generations of the Passat, but the MK7 (B7) of 2010 is essentially a heavy facelift of the 2005 MK6 (B6) rather than an all-new car. The B6 Passat also marked a turning point for the model, as it was the first not to share its platform with an Audi.

Volkswagen Passat First drives