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.
Should I buy one?
Overall, the Passat feels polished and precisely executed. It’s certainly inching closer in general aura and perceived quality to the prestige marques, and this, along with impressive emissions and equipment, makes it one of the best big saloons available as a company or private buy. We would, however, suggest looking at cheaper trims for even better value.
It’s just a shame that Volkswagen hasn’t injected a little more flair into the Passat’s dynamics; a glimmer of enjoyment to make the odd corner on the way home something to look forward to. If that matters to you, the new Ford Mondeo could well be better suited to your needs, and it’s also more refined. But if high-end feel and comfort are more important, the faultlessly composed if slightly dull Passat is an outstanding proposition.
Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI 150 GT
Price £26,430; 0-62mph 8.7sec; Top speed 137mph; Economy 68.9mpg (combined); CO2 109g/km; Kerb weight 1475kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 251lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual