It’s no 3-series to drive, unfortunately. The Passat is a big car, and despite having a Sport setting for the steering (and the optional £700 adaptive dampers fitted to our test car), it still feels stoic and relaxing rather than exciting.
There’s a fair bit of body roll and pitch under braking, but at least ride comfort is decent even over the worst British roads. Speed bumps and broad undulations are shrugged off easily, and motorways are schlepped down in a stable and unflustered fashion. Only over high-frequency road scarring do you notice a bit of patter, unless you stick those adaptive dampers into Sport mode, at which point things get a bit more jarring.
Still, while there's not enough feedback to inject much sense of fun into the handling, the steering is light and weights up predictably, which makes it easy to place the Passat precisely on the road and gives the car a well sorted if not particularly scintillating feel.
There's little evidence of sporting intent from the engine, either. Once you’ve spun it up to about 1400rpm, the turbo kicks in progressively and delivers enough mid-range vigour for reasonable overtaking ability, although this Passat never feels fast. That said, the light, slick six-speed gearbox and well judged pedal responses make it easy to hustle the car along smoothly and at a decent pace.
The most dramatic change is in the cabin. Swathes of varying textures and soft-touch materials make the Passat feel a notch or two above its predecessor, and the standard 6.5-inch colour touchscreen complete with sat nav is the finishing, high-tech flourish (the car pictured has an optional 8.0-inch upgrade). Even better, the broad, cushy driver’s seat is heated and gets lumbar and thigh support adjustment, as well as variable tilt and height adjustment to the base and an electrically adjusted backrest.
Other than that, you get all the kit you could want. Adaptive cruise control features, as does climate control not only in the front but also in the back, where you’ll enjoy loads of legroom and enough headroom for all but the very lanky. The boot is vast enough for most families’ needs and benefits from levers to allow you to drop the 60/40 split, spring-loaded folding rear seats easily from the boot.