Upon first glance, it might not look it but the new eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat is a completely redesigned car, from the ground up. Based on the VW Group’s cutting-edge MQB platform, the new model has more space than before, yet also boasts a lower kerb weight and greater efficiency.

Visual features denoting the new car include a wider grille, stretching fully between the larger headlights, while subtle flowing curves of the nose and front wings merge into a chunky body adorned with creases running down the flanks. A subtle roof spoiler and LED light clusters complete the look at the rear. Smart 17-inch, 10-spoke alloys and silver roof rails complete the look on SE-spec models and above.

The new Passat is powered by a mix of diesel engines, including a 1.6 litre 118 bhp TDI, an extra-frugal BlueMotion version, a 2.0 litre 148 bhp TDI, or a high-performance twin-turbo 2.0 BiTDI boasting an impressive 237 bhp and four-wheel drive.

Only one petrol-powered engine is available: a 215 bhp hybrid GTE, powered by a 1.4 TSI turbocharged combustion engine, in conjunction with an electric motor, offering a claimed 166 mpg and 39g/km CO2 emissions.

Tested here in 2.0 litre 148 bhp TDI form, the Passat Estate feels effortlessly brisk, having plenty of low-down torque to provide smooth take up and easy acceleration, especially when equipped with VW’s excellent quick-shifting six-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

The Ride quality is what you’d hope for in a larger car – that is to say it’s taught yet smooth, with only really poor road surfaces causing the Passat to feel a bit jittery. Higher spec GT models offer adaptive dampers which increase ride comfort further still. The Volkswagen impresses with its handling prowess, too, feeling far lighter and agile than its size would suggest. Steering is well weighted and quick and both grip levels and body control also warrant praise. All-in-all, the new Passat is a considerably more engaging car to drive than its predecessor.

As has always been the case with the Passat, refinement levels are among class best too, with impressive suppression of wind, engine and road noise, although the latter does increase when larger 18 or 19-inch wheels are chosen.

Inside you’re greeted by a very impressively presented interior, from the subtle yet classy instrumentation and dashboard layout to the quality feel and fit and finish of every switch and panel – the new Passat’s cabin simply oozes class.

Not only is it stylish, but it’s practical, too, with good visibility for driver and comfortable seating for all passengers and easy-to-use switchgear and infotainment functionality – the only gripe being one too many buttons on the steering wheel.

In terms of space, the boot is bigger than most of its rivals, while rear accommodation impresses with the ability to fit three tall adults in comfort, with only a raised central transmission tunnel eating into the centre rear passenger’s foot space.

Regardless of which model you choose (S, SE, SE Business, GT or R-Line), the Passat is decently kitted out. Standard equipment on all variants includes air-conditioning, digital radio, 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth and alloy wheels. SE adds front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, and larger wheels. SE Business models (as tested here) get satellite navigation and Driver Profile Selection while GT cars also boast leather and Alcantara upholstery, three-zone climate control and heated front seats.


Although not massively different to look at, improved driving dynamics and performance, lower running costs and lots of high-tech kit make the new Volkswagen Passat more competitive than ever in the large family estate class.

Tech spec:

Passat Estate SE Business 2.0-litre TDI 150PS 6 spd DSG
Price: £28,390
Engine: 2.0-litre TDI turbocharged 4 cylinder diesel
Power: 148 bhp @3500-4000 rpm
Torque: 340Nm @ 1750-3000 rpm
0-62 mph: 8.9 seconds
Top speed: 134 mph
CO2 Emissions (g/km): 119
Insurance Group: 19E