Smooth operator glides past all the opposition
Volkswagen's fresh-faced Passat is a very polished and sophisticated saloon, writes Geraldine Herbert
The Volkswagen Passat has been the default saloon choice for years and more than 30m have found homes since it first launched in 1973. Evolving through eight generations, for 2019 it has been given a mild facelift and new technology.
Although at first glance it may look just like the departing one, on closer inspection the front and rear bumpers, the radiator grille and the logo have all been redesigned. In addition, new LED headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights and tail light clusters add a sharper and more elegant look. Inside it's classy in an understated kind of way. Comfort is key and the Passat offers beautifully bolstering seats plus it's roomy in the back and the boot is a very decent 650 litres.
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The multi-function steering wheel not only allows you take control of the radio, your music and other systems, it is also the first capacitive steering wheel from Volkswagen. Essentially it detects the driver by touch and interacts directly with systems such as Travel Assist, a new feature that brings together a host of technologies and allows the car to follow traffic and keep you in your lane at speeds of up to 210km/h (130mph).
Powering the range is a 2-litre 150bhp diesel, 1.5-litre 150bhp petrol as well as a 1.4-litre petrol plug-in hybrid GTE. The GTE launched here in 2015 but never sold in great numbers. Much has changed in the intervening years and now it's likely to be the model of choice for many buyers. The all-electric range has increased to 56km.
On the move it's the ideal car to cruise comfortably in but is just as solid and reassuring on a nice curving back road. The steering is precise and the handling is everything you could expect from a German saloon.
Due here in October, pricing is not expected until the end of the summer but we predict the new model to increase by around €2,000 on the current version so the new GTE is likely to be around €42,000. Four trim lines will be offered, Passat, Business, Style and R-Line.
The Passat's biggest rival is the unrelenting tide of SUVs that threatens to obliterate the struggling saloon segment completely. That said, the revised model features an alluring combination of sophisticated design and cutting edge technology that nudges it past the competition.