The Volkswagen Passat is another of VW's stalwart models, which has been with us for decades. It is practical, spacious, reliable, and pleasant to drive. It is the car of choice for families and professional drivers alike.
Since its launch in the early 1970s, the Passat has continued to evolve to stay relevant, and it remains a prestigious and stylish choice for today's increasingly discerning buyers. So what is it about the Passat that provides the winning formula for the modern family car?
Let's take a look at the Passat to see why it's so good and why it should be high on your shopping list if you're in the market for a family saloon or estate.
Traditionally, the large family car sector has been crammed with choice, meaning that manufacturers have had to pull their socks up to stay ahead of the game and to give their model its unique appeal to get a share of this competitive market.
This is where the Passat shines because its appeal is through its high quality, practicality, faultless reliability, and premium image. Available as a well-proportioned saloon or a cavernous estate, the Passat has something to offer everyone.
Its frugal Diesel engines are seemingly bombproof and will happily munch up the miles, which is why taxi drivers love them for their apparent immortality. Older Passats with sky-high mileages can still be found in surprising numbers out on the road, showing how long they do last.
Passat owners can be assured of solid build quality, predictable ride and handling, and decent residual values. It has a premium feel and manages to look good without being gaudy.
It comes with a slightly higher price tag compared to similar models. Still, in return, it offers a package that very nearly amounts to an executive car, with good equipment levels and a high-quality finish.
The driving experience might be a little unenthralling compared to rivals with a more sporty bias, but Volkswagen knows this is how they win their impressive market share; through comfort and gentle performance rather than a bone-shaking ride with stiff suspension and massive wheels.
That said, you can still have the big wheels on a Passat if you want to. Just look out for the Sportline model.
Interior space and practicality is good in the saloon model and even better in the estate with its massive load area. Headroom and legroom are excellent on the Passat, too, with plenty of room for four adults. Or, if you don't need so much functional space and fancy the Passat image with more svelte lines, you can even consider the coupe-style Passat CC.
All engines used in the Passat are tried, tested and reliable, and parts are easy to come by due to their use across the entire Volkswagen group, so servicing costs less than many rivals.
Passat's current model was launched in 2015 and was facelifted in 2019 to keep it looking fresh and offering the newest technology. It holds a full five star Euro NCAP crash test rating, so you can be reassured that it is safe for you and your family.
Part of Passat's broad appeal is its wide choice of engines and trims to suit your tastes and needs. It offers a range of petrol and Diesel versions and a more recent GTE plug-in hybrid for those hoping to move towards the electric market.
Let's look first at the Diesel, which makes up a significant chunk of the Passat's sales. The entry-level Diesel is a 1.6 TDI offering 118bhp and returning up to 52 miles per gallon. This is available across most trim levels in the range, including the S, SE and SEL, and even the GT if you want slightly sportier styling in a fuel-efficient package. There is also a BlueMotion version of this engine, with several aerodynamic and efficiency tweaks to give you up to 76mpg if fuel economy is essential.
The next version up is a 2.0 TDI with 147bhp, which gives you up to 53mpg. This is also available as a 187bhp version on higher-spec models, giving you up to 50mpg. If you fancy something a little hotter, you can choose a bi-turbo version with 236bhp, which tops off the Diesel options, although this one is more about performance than the economy, returning just under 40mpg.
There is an equivalent range of petrol engines if you prefer these over Diesel. These utilise the Volkswagen group's increasingly popular TSI engine, starting with a 1.4 TSI offering 123bhp but returning up to an impressive 56mpg.
Again, this is offered across much of the range except for the higher-spec versions. The next engine up is a 1.5 TSI which provides 147bhp and gives you up to 47mpg. Above this is a 1.8 TSI available on higher-spec models, offering you 177bhp in exchange for 47mpg. And on the GT version and above, you can also get a 2.0 TSI with 216bhp and up to 44mpg.
When it comes to trim levels, the Passat does have something for everyone. Your entry-level model in the range is the S, which comes well equipped as standard with alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric windows and heated mirrors. The SE provides extras, including different alloys and parking sensors. SEL is a more luxurious version with heated leather seats, front fog lights, privacy glass and sat nav. GT is slightly sportier with larger alloys and half leather sports seats. There is also the R-Line with extra body styling reminiscent of Volkswagen's R models, Nappa leather, LED headlights and 19" alloy wheels.
The Passat is a popular car, and because of its premium image and reasonably expensive price tag, most Passat buyers tend to look after their vehicle.
They are very popular with fleets, taxi companies, and hire companies due to their excellent reliability and relatively cheap maintenance, so be very picky about the one you buy and make sure you know its history inside out.
Look for a comprehensive servicing record showing it has been serviced on time, and ensure that essential items such as the cambelt have been changed at the right time because a snapped cambelt can cause terminal damage to your engine.
Diesel models are fitted with Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF), prone to blockages on cars that mainly drive around town or on short journeys, so look out for warning lights. Have a reasonable inspection of the car's interior and exterior because heavy family use will show itself either as interior wear or bumps and scrapes on the exterior bodywork.
Listen out for excess noise on revving or lumpy acceleration, indicating a turbo on its way out.
For the most part, you will find your Passat to be eager to please, reliable and durable. If you want peace of mind, it's always worth buying from a dealer to ensure that it is fully serviced and inspected ready for you to drive away.