Sunday 24 September 2017

The Passat estate will no longer be VW's ugly sister

The new Volkswagen Passat bears the same name as the 1973 original — but all is changed, writes Geraldine Herbert

Volkswagen has finally got serious about its Passat. It seemed to lag behind the main star in the VW range - the Golf, the popular sibling who had the best wardrobe - leaving the less glitzy Passat to play the safe and reliable older brother. It was the car of choice if you didn't crave attention, or demand a lively drive.

All that changes with the launch of the eighth-generation family car. The new Passat is elegantly designed and beautifully trimmed and now with a more angular and sharper look, it sits better with VW's more desirable line-up - and with it Volkswagen have high hopes of tapping into the premium section of the market for the first time.

Inside, the Passat is impressively equipped. From the leather seats to the steering wheel everything feels satisfyingly substantial. There are few if any rivals with an interior this classy.

On the practical side, the longer wheelbase means there are acres of leg room both in the front and back, where passengers get serious leg room without compromising the impressive boot space, which at 650L will swallow anything a family can throw at it. Yet all of this space and luxury does come with a steep price tag - and our test car came in at €48,129 including €4,984 of extras.

The Passat Estate has a starting price of €29,225 for the 1.4-litre 125bhp TSI petrol model. Pricing for the diesel range starts at €31,200 for the 1.6-litre 120bhp TDI version.

At first glance the range does seem expensive, but when compared to rivals and considering equipment levels it is actually quite competitive. The Opel Insignia Sports tourer is priced from €27,595 for the 1.4-litre petrol and the 2.0-litre diesel is €29,595. The New Ford Mondeo estate has only one petrol option, the 1.5-litre EcoBoost at €33,670 while the 1.6-litre diesel starts from €30,195.

Fitted to our test car was a spirited 2.0-litre, twin-turbo diesel producing 190 bhp that manages 4.9/100 km with emissions of 123g/km. It comes as no surprise from Volkswagen that there are a huge range of engine choices - but the 1.6-litre TDI 120bhp is the one for economy; it returns 4.1/100 km with CO2 emissions as low as 104g/km. On the road it has enough performance to suit most people's needs, going from 0-100km in a very respectable 10.8 seconds. If petrol is your preference then there are two 1.4-litre engines to choose from, a 125bhp or a 150bhp. Interestingly, the more powerful engine is actually the more economical of the two, thanks to Volkswagen's Active Cylinder Technology.

On the road the steering feels good, composed and enjoyable to drive and, yes, it could just be a bit more fun, but that is not what this car is all about - behind the wheel the Passat is designed to give you thousands of stress-free miles rather than a roller coaster ride on your favourite back road. There are three trims to choose from - Trendline, Comfortline and Highline - and the spec levels are pretty generous. Our test car was a range-topping Highline fully loaded with extras, such as 17" alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, leather seats, heated front seats, electrically-folding exterior mirrors, rear-tinted windows and an interior chrome trim.

The VW Passat estate blends practicality with the classy style of the saloon. But the real trump card of this new Passat is the sheer quality and refinement that gives rivals a serious run for their money.

Whether VW has done enough to tempt buyers away from BMW, Audi and Mercedes, only time will tell.

Sunday Independent

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