Volkswagen Passat

The Essentials

  • Price from £19,610
  • What Car? says: 4 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 68.9mpg
  • What is it? We can't think of a more sensible saloon car - just don't expect to fall in love with it


  • Spacious, comfortable family car
  • Desirable without being ostentatious
  • Economical engines keep fuel bills down


  • Standard front seats may numb your bum
  • Electronic parking brake is fiddly and annoying
  • Interior design is faultless but doesn't have the wow factor
  • Drive

    Quite the teacher's pet: impressive engines with stop start technology, confident handling and comfortable suspension

  • Inside

    Seats could be more supportive and the electronic parking brake button is enough to drive you crazy

  • Safety

    Plenty of airbags, anti-whiplash head restraints and ISOFIX child-seat fittings to keep you safe; an alarm to keep the car safe

  • Reliability

    Although some of the trim is more dowdy than dazzling, the previous Passat scored well in reliability surveys, so it shouldn't let you down

  • Space

    Four can stretch out and relax, a fifth must straddle the chunky tunnel in the rear footwell. Lots of luggage space

  • Standard and extras

    All have air-con, alloys and Bluetooth, but parking sensors cost extra even on top-spec models. Other optional systems help the car park itself or stop if you're about to have a collision

  • What's it like to drive?

    The VW Passat is one of the best-driving family cars. It's at its best on the motorway, where it'll happily sit for hour after hour keeping your well isolated from all manner of unwanted noises. It's undemanding to drive at lower speeds, too, with light steering and a comfortable ride - just don't expect to have much fun.
    Engines range from perky to punchy - our favourite is the 2.0-litre 140 diesel which is smooth, powerful and impressively economical. However, the 104bhp 1.6 diesel is also worth a look, because what it lacks in oomph it makes up for with even lower running costs.

  • What's it like inside?

    There's no shortage of room inside, although the Passat can't quite match the Ford Mondeo for outright space. There's ample leg-, shoulder- and headroom for four, although a hefty central tunnel does make life a bit uncomfortable for a middle rear passenger. The 565-litre boot can easily cope with a family's holiday luggage, although the Passat's saloon layout makes that space less accessible than it is in hatchback rivals, such as the Mondeo.
    There's loads seat and wheel adjustment to help you get comfortable, but the front seats could do with a bit more side support. The dashboard layout is logical and easy to use, however some of the plastics feel hard and cheap.
    Even entry-level S models have plenty of kit, including air-conditioning, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a USB port and four electric windows. However, it's worth upgrading to Highline trim, which adds sat nav, automatic headlights and wipers, climate and cruise controls, and front and rear parking sensors. Sport trim includes cosseting front seats and lowered suspension.

  • How reliable is it?

    Probably not. In the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, the Passat was awarded above average marks for mechanical reliability.
    To help protect you if the worst does happen, every version has stability control, six airbags and active anti-whiplash front head restraints. When Euro NCAP tested the Passat it received an impressive 91% for adult safety but a slightly disappointing 77% for child protection. A Toyota Avensis or a Skoda Superb is safer for kids.

  • Should I buy one?

    Prices are fairly high, but this is reflected in strong resale values. There's more good news, too, because those economical engines keep fuel and tax bills low. So, whether you're a company car driver or a private buyer, the Passat makes a lot of sense.