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First drive: Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate
Updated Volkswagen Passat GTE improves electric range.

 



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Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate

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Among the most significant improvements to the facelifted Volkswagen Passat GTE is the distance it can drive using only its battery. Its styling falls more closely into line with the rest of the Passat range, though Volkswagen enthusiasts will still be able to spot the difference. Standard equipment levels improve and there is some new technology inside, along with future-proofing for connected services. With the UK's plug-in grant gone, can the Passat GTE do enough to entice buyers?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate
Pricing: TBC
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with electric motor
Transmission: six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 34g/km (VED band 1-50 for alternative fuel vehicles: 0 first 12 months, then 130 annually thereafter)
Fuel economy: 188.3mpg
Top speed: 137mph
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Power: 218hp (combined system)
Torque: 400Nm (combined system)
Boot space: 648-1,613 litres

What's this?

It's mid-point in the current Volkswagen Passat's model cycle and along with some minor styling updates, the plug-in hybrid GTE version gains further enhancements to its powertrain system. The increase to the battery's capacity increases the distance the car can cover in electric mode to a more realistic level for daily commuters.

There is less distinction between this plug-in version and the rest of the Passat range. Previously, GTE models had a blue stripe across the nose that ran through the headlights and more distinct badging. Now, there is only a subtle GTE badge on the grille, which is also where the battery charging port can be found. Blue-painted brake callipers are another sign as are the distinctive C-shaped LED daytime running lights in the lower bumper. That bumper gets a slight redesign, while LED front and rear lights become standard fit items. Optionally, the IQ.LIGHT LED Matrix headlights are available to specify, and this also adds dynamic indicators to the front and rear of the car.

Being Volkswagen's flagship saloon (let's take a moment to remember the Phaeton), it debuts several new technologies. On the driver assistance front, a new capacitive steering wheel reduces how tightly the driver needs to grip the wheel when the Travel Assist driving function is enabled. The latest iteration of this brings partially assisted driving to higher speeds and stop-start traffic, making it a boon to motorway commuters.

Other changes inside include a new 11.7-inch Digital Cockpit, replacing the Active info Display. The infotainment system also gets a bump, with the company's latest 9.2-inch MIB3 system. In keeping with the latest trends, this is available with a built-in sim to enable full-time connectivity. Your smartphone is well-accommodated too, with Apple CarPlay now working wirelessly, and there's Android Auto also. USB C ports are now the norm and there's an easily accessible wireless charging pad for Qi-enabled devices.

How does it drive?

The bulk of the technical updates to the Passat GTE apply to the battery and hybrid system. The physical size of the battery unit remains unchanged, and it is still located beneath the rear seats and boot of the car. What is new is the composition of it, which brings the capacity up to 13kWh. Every time you get into the Passat GTE it defaults to driving in its electric mode - providing there is some charge in the battery. The speed at which you can drive using only electric power is now 87mph. Crucially, the driving range of a fully charged battery has increased to 34 miles under the more realistic WLTP conditions. Owners can use a domestic three-pin plug to charge the car in the absence of a wallbox charger, but this process takes longer at five hours and thirty minutes. From a dedicated wallbox charger, that time comes down by two hours.

Our time with the Passat GTE wasn't quite long enough to fully deplete the battery and see how accurate that 34-mile range is, but we did have an opportunity to try some of the other functions that the GTE's drivetrain offers. The hybrid mode alternates between using the combustion engine and electric motor. On its own, the 1.4-litre petrol engine provides adequate levels of power and performance and uses a six-speed automatic transmission. In typical driving, the switch between power sources isn't very noticeable, and it is smart enough to activate the energy recuperation as much as possible to prolong battery range. Drivers can also set how much charge is to be kept in the battery, for example, when approaching a zero-emission zone.

If you want to exploit the system's power fully, there is a GTE mode that gives you all 218hp. There is more oomph though it doesn't make it seem any more powerful than a larger diesel might. But the Passat GTE is more about efficiency than outright pace.

Verdict

If you're looking for huge boot space, a generous cabin and potentially low running costs, the Passat GTE Estate makes for a more compelling alternative to a fully electric vehicle. Now it comes with a more usable electric driving range, while the addition of new driver assistance features gives it an edge over some rivals from a daily commuter perspective.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 26 Jun 2019









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2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.

2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE. Image by Volkswagen.








 

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