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The Top Gear car review: Volkswagen Passat Estate
For:A very good Passat estate, and we mean that as a complement
Against:Like the class swot, it’s a bit dull
2.0 TDI SE Business 5dr
All the car you and your family will ever need, so long as you never require a flicker of personality.
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What we say:
All seems a bit familiar here, just a bit better than the last one? good. Volkswagen’s hit the target
What is it?
Volkswagen doesn’t like to surprise its customers, and if there’s a group that would particularly frown upon some utterly random flight of fancy, it’s Passat estate buyers. So the new one is just like the old one – just a bit posher, a bit smarter, a bit tidier.
Oh, and a lot better to drive. See, this time, it’s based on the now-almost-ubiquitous VW Group MQB platform that you’ll read so much about elsewhere in this guide. Because it’s so flexible, it’s been stretched out to create the most commodious load-lugging Passat ever, but clever engineering tech means it hasn’t gained weight or got any less green (indeed, both are down for this latest generation car). Bound to find favour with its loyal buyers, that.
No surprises. Solid, safe and sensible is the name of the game here. You’re somehow already predisposed to expect a high-quality drive, and the new Passat doesn’t disappoint. Handling is ultra-reliable, body control faultless: it’s not at all playful but is completely predictable and stable.
Saying that, it’s not perfect. The popular 150bhp diesel isn’t quite up there with the best, and there’s a bit of thump from the suspension on bigger wheels. We noticed a bit of wind whistle too. Oh, and while the suspension is probably actually tauter than the new Mondeo, you get more feel for what’s going on in the Ford. You’ll probably enjoy driving that more.
On the inside
The Passat’s cabin quality and materials are terrific, and so too are the ergonomics. It all just works, with a premium finish that takes it a clear class above the Ford. You can even get full digital dials, with a complementary screen in the centre console, if you really want to impress others with your touch-swiping skills.
MQB underpinnings bring a longer wheelbase that means there’s even more room in the rear, while the 650-litre seats-up boot stretches to 1,780 litres with them folded. In other words, it’s absolutely enormous – much bigger than the new Mondeo estate, for example. That’s the sort of surprise that Passat customers will take kindly to.
Volkswagens always feel built to last, and this one is no exception. The level of fit and finish is, well, at another level compared to its rivals; again, the Mondeo simply can’t match it here. The new Passat is also very economical, particularly in optimum diesel guise. It can, however, also be very expensive if you so wish – pricey enough to get you a decent-spec Audi A4 Avant – so don’t get carried away and stick to the optimum SE Business trim. Sensibly, it has everything you want as standard, and nothing you don’t. How very Passat.