Having established its sub-brand hybrid ‘GTE’ nameplate in the Golf, Volkswagen has subsequently transplanted it onto the Passat – adding a plug-in petrol-electric option to a line-up that has been staunchly diesel-only for the best part of a decade.

This makes sense. VW’s family saloon has always given its segment a polished and likeable bedrock, and the fact that it has never been the cheapest option means its buyers are unlikely to be automatically dissuaded by the premium associated with electrification.

The migration of the GTE badge is a thornier prospect from a marketing sense. Even in the Golf, the concept barely justified its positioning in the hallowed ‘Gran Turismo’ sphere; in the Passat – a model with no sporting pretensions whatsoever – the connection looks even more tenuous.

Accordingly (and doubtless aware that while this is among the most expensive Passats, it’s not the quickest or the most powerful variant), VW has dialled back much of the pedigree and performance rhetoric this time around.

Instead, sensibly, the emphasis is on the limited sacrifices required by switching from diesel to a mix of petrol and lithium ion.

The benefits are much the same as they are in the Golf: a moderate all-electric range, brisk acceleration, admirable (if misleading) claimed fuel economy and the low taxation prospect of 39g/km of CO2 emissions.

That alone ought to make the car – which still benefits from a £2500 government grant and is also available as an estate – alluring to business users, but the GTE will need to cut the mustard in more ways than one if it wants to overshadow the alternatives available at its £34,025 (post-grant) list price.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Genesis G70
    First Drive
    22 September 2017
    Based on the Kia Stinger, Genesis' new G70 saloon shows plenty of promising signs that it could be a hit in Europe
  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    22 September 2017
    Still visceral and dramatic as ever, but does the vast number of mechanical changes and tweaks help make the Lamborghini Aventador S more engaging?
  • Renault Koleos
    Car review
    22 September 2017
    Renault’s new crossover sees the Koleos name return, attached to an SUV of a quite different stripe
  • Nissan X-Trail
    First Drive
    21 September 2017
    On our first chance to get the facelifted Nissan X-Trail on UK roads, the petrol proves a viable alternative, although for outright pulling power the 2.0 dCi is the better bet
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2d 210
    First Drive
    21 September 2017
    Most powerful diesel version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is swift and more frugal than its closest rivals, but makes less sense than the range-topping petrol version