Volkswagen Passat Estate Review
A sensible estate for sensible people, the Passat is practical, comfortable, and efficient
Strengths & weaknesses
- Well equipped as standard
- Comfortable and spacious interior
- One of the largest boots of any estate
- Not especially satisfying to drive
- Doesn't have the kudos of other German estates
- BiTDI model is an expensive indulgence
Volkswagen Passat Estate prices from £9,875 Finance from £261.87 per month
The Volkswagen Passat Estate is very closely related to the Audi A4 Avant and Skoda Superb Estate. While the Audi may be an epitomy of class and desirability and the Skoda represents impeccable value for money, the Volkswagen offers fantastic quality and dependability - it's clearly doing something right, as it has stamped its place as one of the most popular family cars in Europe.
This is the eighth generation of Passat. It went on sale in January 2015, and recieved a facelift in 2019 that included the introduction of the plug-in hybrid GTE variant and some pretty fancy tech upgrades that edge drivers one step closer to becoming redundant. With the 2019 models, VW offers a ‘Travel Assist’ feature that gives a fair degree of automated driving, performing many routine driving tasks from a standstill all the way to 130mph.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, though. At its heart this is a discreetly upmarket, practical family car that doesn't skimp on the basics. In the front, there’s room to stretch out, while the driving position, seat and steering wheel adjust pretty much every which way, meaning drivers of all shapes and sizes should be able to get comfortable.
As for the surrounding environment, this is a first class flight deck that does its best to keep everything clear and within easy reach. Of particular note, the eight-inch touchscreen boasts clear graphics, intuitive menus and perks such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It’s possible to upgrade to a larger 9.2-inch screen that adds gesture control - where you wave your hand at the screen to perform certain commands - but take it from us, the regular system is all you need.
In terms of practicality, there are good size door pockets and centre stowage areas and the glovebox can be set to keep drinks cool.
There's plenty of room in the back. A Skoda Superb might just edge this one for overall size, but the Passat Estate is certainly a bigger car than, say, the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring or Volvo V60 Sportswagon. So children in big, bulky childseats will be easily accommodated, and there’s even the option of integrated childseats, in place of the Isofix childseat mounts, on the two outer chairs. Or, as a treat, optional heated seats.
The boot is just as accommodating. With 650 litres of luggage space, or 1,950 litres when the back seats are folded down, equalling the Skoda Superb’s cargo deck, and with flat sides, stowage areas, luggage hooks and seats that split and fold 40/20/40, it’s more than ready to be challenged with bikes, furniture or, better still, family holidays.
|Boot size||650 litres|
|Tax||£145 to £530|
January 2015 UK deliveries of saloon and estate begin with prices starting from £22,215. Diesel engines (1.6, 2.0 and 2.0-litre bi-turbo) only and in S, SE, SE Business, GT and R-Line trims.
June 2015 Frugal 1.6 BlueMotion diesel arrives promising 78mpg
August 2016 VW Passat GTE PHEV (plug-in hybrid) arrives with prices starting at £34,025 after plug-in grant
July 2017 Petrol engine range is launched, with 1.4-litre TSI 125hp and 150hp plus the potent 2.0-litre TSI 220hp.
January 2018 Subtle equipment upgrades across the Passat family, including LED headlights and a smartphone mirroring system.
July 2019 Recieves a facelift and new plug-in hybrid GTE model is launched with prices starting at £37,920.
Understanding Volkswagen Passat Estate names
Engine 2.0 TDI
The figure ‘2.0’ is the size of the engine in litres (there’s a 1.6 diesel engine and a 1.5 petrol, too), while ‘TDI’ tells you it’s a diesel. ‘SCR’ stands for Selective Catalytic Reduction, VW’s emissions-treatment technology. The figure ‘150’ is the engine’s power rating in horsepower, which can also be referred to as PS.
Trim SE Business
The trim level of a car lets you know how much equipment is included as standard. The higher the level, the more gadgets you get and the more that you pay. SE Business is the most popular within the estate range.
Volkswagen's automatic gearbox is known as a DSG. If there's no mention of this, then the car most likely has a manual gearbox.
Volkswagen Passat Estate Engines
Diesel: 1.6 TDI 120, 2.0 TDI 190, 2.0 TDI 240
Petrol: 1.5 TSI 190, 2.0 TSI 190, 2.0 TSI 272
Plug-in hubrid: 1.4 TSI Hybrid
The Passat estate’s most popular model is the mid-range 2.0 TDI with 190hp. It’s easy to see why; it provides a good balance of fuel economy and get-up-and-go, and road tax is £170 in the first year.
The lower-powered 1.6 TDI has price on its side but little else. It will feel strained when tasked with hauling a fully laden car, and this in turn will see its fuel economy fall as you’ll need to work it hard to make fair progress.
Step up to the 2.0 TDI 240 and you’ll have all the performance you’ll need. But whether or not it represents good value compared with the 190 version is for you to decide.
The 1.5 TSI is the least powerful petrol engine in the range with 190hp, but it is the most economical. This is not a bad option if you have your heart set on petrol power.
The much more powerful 2.0 TSI options offer some pretty startling performance whether you go for the 190hp version or the 272hp, but you will pay a price for the amount of fuel you burn through.
The 1.4 TSI Hybrid becomes the fastest model in the range by quite a way. On top of that you'll be getting much improved fuel economy and also saving money on tax due to those reduces CO2 emissions. It is more expensive, but that might just be worth it.
Volkswagen Passat Estate Trims
SE, SEL, R-Line, R-Line Edition, Alltrack
As the estate, all models come with four tie-hooks in the boot and a plastic protector for the loading sill. The entry-level SE trim is reasonably well equipped with features such as 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air-conditioning, an eight-inch colour screen, trip computer, digital radio and USB connection and cable. Car Net, which includes Apple Car Play or Android Auto, is also thrown in.
SEL courts fleet drivers with lots of extras including 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, sat nav, climate control, heated washer jets and a rain sensor, and valuable driver assist systems including adaptive cruise control. There’s also a ski-flap, in the back seat for loading long items through without having to drop the seat.
For the budding adventurer, Alltrack trim provides self-sealing tyres, raised suspension (by 27mm), a rugged styling pack, four-wheel drive, a multifunction display and dedicated off-road driving modes, which include hill descent control.
The flagship R-Line trim offers the most racy look of all the Passats. Whether or not that’s what buyers of this type of family car want is debatable, but nonetheless there are sports seats, plenty of R-Line logos and a sports steering wheel, as well as adaptive LED headlights.
Volkswagen Passat Estate Reliability and warranty
It feels like a quality product in the showroom but the experience of owners suggests there’s room for improvement beneath the surface. The previous version of the Passat has been placed close to the bottom of the Auto Express Driver Power survey, with it rated 142 out of 150 cars for reliability. In terms of build quality, owners rated it lower still at 146. Its three year and 60,000 mile warranty is nothing special.
Used Volkswagen Passat Estate
The 1.6 TDI S may be the cheapest version you'll find, but as described earlier, it’s best avoided. The impressive all-round 2.0 TDI 150 is the best buy, and because of its popularity there is no shortage of models to choose from on the used market.
The rugged Passat estate Alltrak is quite a rare machine, meaning used prices are surprisingly high, starting from around £17,000 on BuyaCar.
Rarer still is the Passat estate GTE. It was only on sale for a couple of years, and combined an electric motor with a 1.4-litre petrol engine to produce strong performance and low emissions figures in the official tests that every new car goes through. As a plug-in hybrid, its batteries can be charged either by the engine and regenerative braking, or from a household socket or dedicated charging point. Unfortunately, with so few used examples available, the cheapest we found at the time of writing was £24,000.