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First drive: 2024 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: 2024 Volkswagen Passat
New Passat comes only in estate form, and itís not cheap either. Is it worth the premium over a Tiguan, though?

   



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2024 Volkswagen Passat

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It may be increasingly difficult to draw car buyers away from their love affair with SUVs and get them to consider an estate, but VW is going to have a darned good go. To go with the recently-shown electric ID.7 estate, here comes a new Passat, and thereís no longer a saloon version ó the new Passat is estate-only. Itís closely related to the new Tiguan, but is leaner, lower, and longer (almost breaking the five-metre mark in fact). Itís also quite a bit more expensive than a Tiguan, so does that mean itís no longer worthy of consideration?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Volkswagen Passat R-Line 1.5 e-TSI
Price: Passat from £38,480
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with mild-hybrid
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 150hp
Torque: 250Nm
Emissions: 122g/km
Economy: 51.8mpg
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Top speed: 137mph
Boot space: 690 litres

Styling

The styling of the new Passat is very spec-dependent, and really you need to go for the R-Line model to get it looking at its best. R-Line's more muscular bodykit really sharpens up the relatively plain, staid styling of the Passat, and makes it look a lot more appealing, helped by 19-inch alloy wheels. Oh, and it also really helps if you get the Reef Blue Metallic paint option. There's some nice detailing around the very slim headlights (which can be optioned-up with 19,000-element Matrix LED lights) and VW has artfully disguised the Passat's length and rear bulk. It's a handsome car, but in a very quiet and understated way. Nowt wrong with that.

Interior

As with the exterior, the Passatís cabin is relatively understated ó save, that is, for the massive 15-inch telly which someone has attached to the dashboard. The sheer size of the optional screen (a 12.9-inch screen comes as standard) is really quite arresting, especially in a cabin more low-slung than that of the related Tiguan and indeed that of the ID.7. Itís a good screen too ó easier to use by far than VWís previous efforts ó although the supposed technical wonder of the ChatGPT artificial intelligence which is built into VWís ĎIdaí voice control software comes across as rather awkward and difficult to get a decent response from. It also sounds almost comically robotic.

The more conventional bits of the Passatís cabin are excellent, however. The seats ó approved by Germanyís Bad Back Association, the Aktion Gesunder Rucken ó are wonderful and the sheer heft of the materials uses means that this is a Passat which continues the modelís glorious traditions of chunky cabin quality.

Practicality

This is the Passatís trump card. OK, so itís £4,000 more expensive ó base model for base model ó than the Tiguan, but the taller Tiguan canít compete with the massive 690-litre (dropping to 510 litres for the plug-in hybrid models) boot. Oh, thatís the capacity up to the luggage cover. Drop the back seats and there are commercial vans that canít compete with the 1,920 litres of loadspace. Brace yourself, IKEA ó the Passat is comingÖ Itís a practical car up front too, with large door bins and plenty of storage space on the centre console thanks to the gear selector being moved to the steering column. Thereís also an extra 50mm of rear legroom compared to the previous Passat, so unless your rear seat passengers arew freakishly tall, all should be comfy.

Performance

The new Passat might be estate-only, but it does come with a broad selection of engines. Thereís a pair of 2.0-litre turbo petrols, the most powerful of which deploys a GTI-spec 265hp and 4Motion four-wheel drive. Then there are the two e-Hybrid plug-in hybrid versions, with a choice of 204hp or 272hp outputs and lengthy electric-only range. This is thanks to a 19kWh battery pack, which can be fast-charged at up to 50kW on DC power, and which lends the Passat at least 62 miles, and possibly more (the final official WLTP figures arenít in yet) of electric motoring on a full charge.

Or, of course, there are diesel options ó 150hp and 193hp 4Motion versions of the same engine. However, our Passat pick is this humble, basic, 150hp 1.5-litre e-TSI mild-hybrid petrol engine. Itís hardly what youíd call quick ó just ducking under the 10-second barrier in the 0-62mph sprint ó but it is spectacularly economical, easily matching its claimed 52mpg figure, and giving you a range of more than 550 miles on a full 66-litre tank. Diesel-like fuel economy with petrol smoothness and the lowest price in the range? Yes please.

Ride & Handling

No Passat has ever been the class leader when it comes to pin-sharp handling, and this new version is no exception, lacking the in-corner verve of a BMW 3 Series or the likes of a (sadly departed) Mondeo or Mazda 6. That said, it's still very good and the steering has more weight and feel than you might expect. Our test car was equipped with VW's new DCC Pro adaptive suspension, which uses a pair of valves to separate out the bump and rebound motions, and the Wolfsburg engineers promise that it can keep the Passat very level in fast corners (which it does) while also providing a very comfortable ride (which is also does). So while it's not going to win any handling group tests, the Passat is very tidy to drive, keener than you expect, very comfortable, and far, far more enjoyable than the Tiguan with which it shares its MQB Evo platform and engines. And yes, we drove both cars back-to-back to make sure of this.

Value

Ah, here is where the Passat trips up. Standard specification is very good ó the 12.9-inch touchscreen, digital instruments, seven-speed DSG automatic, ChatGPT integration, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear-view camera, built-in sat-nav, LED lights with high-beam assistance, massaging seats, three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, and an electric tailgate are all included in the base Life trim. But that basic Life trim is £4,000 pricier than the new Tiguan with broadly the same spec and engines. True, the Passat does have a few more bits and pieces of equipment as standard, but itís going to be a tough sell to get SUV-addled buyers to cross the floor.

Verdict

The Passat is, in many ways, a perfect, classic, exemplar of why estate cars are so good. It's long, low, and lean (with an aerodynamic drag figure of just 0.25) and all its weight is in the right place, so it's far more engaging and enjoyable to drive than any equivalent SUV. It's also thoroughly massive inside, with a vast boot and roomy back seats, while upholding the Passat's tradition of high-quality and robust build. Is it too pricey? Yes, a little, but if you want lots of space and usefulness, allied to an enjoyable driving experience, it's still worth picking over the Tiguan.



Neil Briscoe - 5 Mar 2024



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2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.

2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate. Image by Volkswagen.








 

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