In Hybrid mode, apart from the suspension becoming a little firmer, the GTE retains its refined mannerisms. Throttle response is progressive and the combination of the two power sources working together endows the Passat with plenty of mid-range shove.
However, for maximum performance, you’ll want to select GTE mode. This stiffens the suspension, sharpens the throttle response and allows the six-speed ’box to hold on to gears for longer. Granted, the added weight of the hybrid system is still evident despite the GT-tuned chassis, but the car performs admirably on fast, flowing B-roads. The steering is direct, the uprated suspension provides impressive body control and the brakes are strong, despite feeling a little spongy and artificial under foot.
Handily, once you’ve stopped playing around, you can get back to monitoring your remaining electric range via the GTE’s interactive instrument cluster. Where you’d normally find a rev counter, you’re instead treated to a power meter, which displays your power reserves and the effectiveness of the regenerative braking system. It’s a genuinely useful addition that encourages you to eke out every last bit of range from the battery.
Elsewhere in the cabin, there are other subtle changes that help differentiate the GTE from its lesser siblings. Blue stitching on the steering wheel, gearshift gaiter and seats matches the flashes of blue on the exterior of the car, and the prolific use of GTE badges ensures that you won’t forget what you're driving.
Otherwise, the interior is typical Passat: great visibility, an excellent driving position and a luxurious cabin. The GTE also receives Adaptive Cruise Control, City Emergency Braking, Discover Navigation, Bluetooth and parking sensors as standard. And if you opt for GTE Advance trim for £3655 extra, you also get the excellent Active Info Display, an 8.0in navigation screen, nappa leather and 'premium' LED headlights.
Should I buy one?
If you have a passion for new tech and live within 30 miles of your charger-equipped workplace, the Passat GTE could be for you. The idea of using your car for a whole week without ever having to rely on petrol power will be a compelling prospect for some and, unlike a pure-electric vehicle, range anxiety is effectively non-existent.
However, if you're covering long miles on a frequent basis, you’ll rarely see the benefit of that electric motor. It’s also hard to ignore that this impressive technology comes at a price. The base GTE starts at £34,025 (including the government plug-in car grant), which is significantly more expensive than an equivalent diesel model.
Nevertheless, the GTE is a truly exciting piece of engineering that provides almost all of the benefits of an electric vehicle with very few of the downsides.
2016 Volkswagen Passat GTE
Location Surrey; On sale October; Price £34,025; Engine 4 cyls, 1398cc, turbo, petrol; Power 215bhp; Torque 295lb ft; Gearbox 6-spd automatic; Kerb weight tbc; Top speed 140mph; 0-62mph 7.6sec; Economy 166mpg; CO2/tax band 39g/km, 7%