Volkswagen Passat review: will it ever be a credible alternative to the Audi A4?

Sales of big saloons might not be what they used to, but the cars themselves are more competent than ever, as evidenced by the latest Volkswagen Passat.
20 April 2017
by:   Chris Knapman

Sharing much of its DNA with the smaller Golf means that the latest Passat is lighter and more efficient than its predecessor, while feeling even classier still.

The engine range is restricted to diesels and a plug-in hybrid GTE model that marries a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor to give a pure electric range of up to 30 miles.

All versions of the Passat will make for a relaxing companion on a long journey, with supportive seats (even more so on SE-spec models and above), a good driving position with plenty of adjustment, and generally compliant suspension.

However, it’s worth noting that the ride becomes noticeably noisier, not to mention firmer, if you opt for the 18-inch wheels - if you do choose these we’d recommend also ticking the box for VW’s adaptive suspension.

Diesel engine are available in 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre capacities with a number of different power outputs. All are noisier than a Ford Mondeo diesel when cold or driven at low speeds, but become quieter once cruising.

For the ultimate in quiet running you’ll need a plug-in hybrid Passat GTE, which wafts around in near silence on its electric motor. Combined with the lack of wind noise, it adds to the Passat’s refined nature, although ride comfort suffers as a result of the weight of the batteries in the back of the car.

With its classy interior, upmarket image and low running costs, the Passat is not only a rival for the Ford Mondeo, but also a viable alternative the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-class, particularly for those who value space over driving thrills. The GTE is also an accomplished plug-in hybrid, if more expensive than a Kia Optima PHEV.

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