What is it?
Here’s a somewhat interesting historical fact: the Passat is Volkswagen’s oldest continuously running nameplate.
If I were put on the spot and told to guess which of Wolfsburg’s many model lines laid claim to that particular honour, I’d have thought it were the Golf - but there you go. Turns out the Passat outdates that most ubiquitous of hatchbacks by a single year (give or take), having entered production in 1973 - only slightly ahead of the car that would go on to define what is now being referred to as Volkswagen’s 'second era'.
Anyway, since then, the Passat has achieved considerable sales success (not least in Europe) across its eight generations, with some 30 million examples built to date. Now, the latest model has been subjected to a mid-life update - the result being the so-called Passat Mk8.5.
And of all the variants available, it’s the Passat GTE that’s arguably been nipped and tucked to the greatest extent. In fact, these tweaks, along with shifting consumer habits that have placed lower emissions and greater efficiency much further into the limelight, have led Volkswagen to predict the plug-in hybrid model will now account for 25% of all Passat sales. Previously, that figure was just 10%.
So, what’s new? Well, as with all new Passat variants, the GTE benefits from Volkswagen’s latest raft of active safety systems as standard, while the new MIB 3 infotainment software makes its debut.
Changes specific to the GTE include a larger (13kWh) battery, which increases the WLTP-certified zero-emissions range by some 38% to 33-36miles, depending on bodystyle, yet the list price has dropped by an average of £2300. So, not a bad innings all round. There's also a newly configured hybrid driving mode that works in conjunction with the sat-nav to conserve electric energy so that it can be deployed as you approach your urban destination.
Those modifications aside, it’s business as usual. You still get a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol four-pot engine that, along with an electric motor, drives the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Suspension, meanwhile, is still by way of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. Adaptive damping is available as an optional extra.