An utterly handsome estate car, the Volkswagen Passat has been given a makeover and remains one of the nicest looking load-luggers you can buy. Throw in sporty R Line trim and the Passat we are testing hits a lot of makers. But is it all brilliant? No.
Ireland has one of the lowest uptakes of estate cars at less than 15% in most models. This startling fact comes despite every critic worth their salt singing the praises of estates over saloons. By default you get more headroom in the rear and a boot that allows the dog to travel safely secured.
The cabin is crisp and clear and very German. The seating is perfect for five and the 650 litre boot is vast – as you’d expect. Drop the seats and there is up to 1,780 litres of cargo space that a builder would be proud of. Rails, tensioning straps and other boot accessories are available. You can also open the boot with a kick motion under the rear bumper if you have the ‘easy-open’ electronic opening option fitted.
Under the bonnet buyers can choose from a 1.4 litre GTE petrol/electric hybrid, a 150hp 1.5 TSi petrol or stick with conventional power for an estate – diesel. Our test car has a 2 litre TDi EVO engine powering the front wheels through a smooth DSG automatic gearbox. Power is adequate with 150hp and a more impressive figure of 340nm of torque. The four cylinder diesel has with a CO2 figure of 141g (5mg NOx), this places it in the A3 motor tax band – an impressively low band for such a large car. 0-100km/h takes 9.1 seconds but feels slower.
On the road the Passat lacks enthusiasm and encourages the driver to take their time and relax. The estate cruises with ease and crush control is essential as the feeling under foot in normal drive mode feels as if the car is underpowered. I spent a lot of time with the DSG gear selector in the S (sport) position to make any sort of brisk progress without having to floor the throttle when in ‘D’. The Passat drives in a neutral way and delivers a near premium feeling in the cabin apart form an occasional drony tyre/road sound that resonates somewhere between 70 and 80km/h on certain road surfaces.
Passat trim levels in ireland are called: Passat, Business, Style and R-Line. Standard equipment is good as you would expect with the R Line, notable kit being: 18 inch wheels, R Line body kit, tinted rear windows, LED front fogs, rear view camera, digital cockpit (10.25 inch display), adaptive cruise control, 3 zone climate control, ‘ErgoComfort’ electric driver’s seat and heated washer nozzles. Connectivity is good but you will need one of those smaller USB C cables if your smartphone doesn’t have wireless charging (guess what I don’t have!). Options on our test car included: Lapiz blue met. paint, leather package, technology upgrade (including electronic tailgate & keyless entry), alloy spare wheel, sports suspension, nice ’Pretoria’ 19 inch alloys and advance matrix LED headlights (€5,798). Passat estate pricing starts from €33,750. The R-Line starts from €41,150. With options our car weighed in at €47,723.