VW Passat 2.0 TDI SE Business14 | 01 | 2015Scotcars rating

    VW takes its topselling model, the Passat to new heights ... and looks ready to dominate again

    OK, HERE'S A QUICK QUESTION to test your perceived motoring knowledge: what's Volkswagen's best-selling car? "Easy," I hear you say: "The Golf."

    Now, before you go back-slapping yourself and whooping in smug congratulations, I have some news for you: the answer is actually the Passat.

    I know, I know, it rather surprised me as well: I'd have gone for the Golf. But no: it's the Passat — in both saloon and estate forms — which has sold more than 22 million units since the first of the previous seven generations was launched. Even last year, with buyers aware this eighth-generation car was poised for launch, 1.1m Passats were sold.

    This new-gen Passat — a key rival for the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Mazda 6 and Skoda Octavia — takes VW's packaging to a new level.

    The eighth generation Passat, built on VW's marvellously versatile MQB platform, has a 79mm longer wheelbase than the car it replaces, yet is 2mm shorter. It's also lower than its predecessor.

    Sensibly, most of the extra dimension appears to have been allocated to rear seat legroom. Just for good measure, there's also an extra 26mm in headroom.

    And while Jean Luc Picard might well still be preaching "Space: The Final Frontier," to his Star Trek crew, Volkswagen has pushed its own frontiers to further enhance the stowage appeal of the family and business-friendly Passat.

    Concealed behind the Phaeton-esque bootlid of the saloon, there's 586-litre of bootspace: you could possibly set-up home in there and comfortably last around a fortnight.

    Related: VW Passat Bluemotion hits 76.3mpg

    The news gets even better with the stylish estate — which carries a £1500 premium, and which comfortably outsells the saloon 60:40 — which has a boot near big enough to accommodate a five-a-side pitch. It's so big, its nearest rival space-wise is the mercedes E-class.

    Inside, the Passat's cabin is, as you would expect, all Teutonic splendour, functionality and quality. The environment is a fair step ahead of key rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. The fascia is also dominated by the optional, 12.3-inch TFT screen instrument binnacle — which first appeared in the new TT — and something akin to the world's longest air vent. The traditional analogue clock is a quality touch.

    The TFT screen replaces the traditional dials, and combines super-clear resolution with a really interactive set-up which works in unison with the smart multifunction wheel. If you choose not to have the Active Info Display fitted, the Passat comes with analogue dials and a multifunction display. 

    All new Passats though to come with a 6.5in central touchscreen, which includes DAB radio and Bluetooth. Go for the hugely attractive SE Business trim — and all models upwards — and navigation is standard: and if you add it, mapping is duplicated in the Active Info Display. 

    You'll not be surprised to learn the driving position is first class, though some fellow motoring hacks questioned the firmness of the front seats. Me? I thought they were sporty and comfortable.

    Slip into the rear seats, and you'll find yourself lounging in more space than any rival model in its sector.

    Related: Roadtest — VW Touareg V6 TDI

    Business and fleet sales are core markets for the Passat — in the UK, 82% of Passats go to fleet buyers — so not surprisingly the German giant has created what it labels a "Business" trim level. In SE form, you get a hefty level of standard equipment … find spec level of goodies included in Business spec.

    The new Passat range — saloon and estate, which starts at just over £20,000 and rises to over £35,000 — is available only with a range of diesel engines. At launch the range kicks off with a 118bhp 1.6-litre TDI. There's also a 2.0TDI with 148bhp or 187bhp outputs, and the range is topped out by a flagship 237bhp bi-turbo TDI: the latter is matched to a DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

    And there are more versions waiting in the wings. While rugged Alltrack versions will arrive in the summer, next year will see the arrival of a frugal 1.6-litre BlueMotion TDI that emits just 95g/km, along with a headline-grabbing 1.4-litre TSI petrol-powered plug-in hybrid GTE.  

    Ready to take on the might of the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 in the battle for business users, the new Passat is available in five trim levels – S, SE, SE Business, GT and R-Line.

    An upmarket chrome window line trim is standard on Passats from the SE spec upwards. GT cars get gloss black B-pillar treatment, extra chrome detailing and LED tail-lamps, while the range-topping BiTDI 4MOTION and you get distinctive all-LED headlights.

    Standard alloy wheel sizes range from 16in to 18in, depending on spec, with 19in wheels being available as an option on the R-Line.

    Related: Roadtest — Audi TT 2.0TDI

    This racy version, as is the case with R-Line models across the VW range, gets a sportier look with unique bumpers, wider side sills and different exhaust and grille treatment.

    Volkswagen’s new ergoComfort seats, which come with electric backrest adjustment. GT trim adds heated seats, with luxurious Alcantara seat cushions and leather side bolsters, are standard on the SE. GT trim cars get piano black inserts on the centre console, plus swish ambient cabin lighting. R-Line cars get sporty interior touches to match the exterior treatment. Full leather is an option.

    The new Passat range also sees the debut of VW's Trailer Assist. It's brilliant. And if you need to tow something and hate the thought of having to reverse into any gap — be it a gateway or garage — it's a Godsend.

    Using clever technology and geometry, it tackles trailer-reversing steering for you … and you control it simply by using the controls for the driver door mirror.

    Out on the road, thanks to its longer wheelbase, improved torsional rigidity, better weight distribution and suspension tweaks, the new Passat is certainly more agile than previous generations. Being lighter, it's also more nimble and faster, with its steering precision similar to that of the smaller Golf. There's bags of grip, and body control is excellent.

    Worth highlighting too that at motorway speeds the cabin is hushed and comfortable, with hardly any wind or road noise, and it's clear VW has spent a lot of time ensuring the Passat serves up class-leading refinement.

    Coinciding with the launch of the new 'three-year-old' Ford Mondeo, the VW is a car with deserves to battle it out for supremacy in its sector. That it will battle head-on with the Ford confirms just how significant the arrival of the new Passat is.

    Related: Roadtest — VW Golf GTE

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £25,135
    Engine / Power: 1968cc 16v 4cyl TD / 148bhp @ 3500rpm
    How fast?: 8.7sec; / Max 137mph
    How big/heavy?: L4767mm W1832mm H1456mm / 1475kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 68.9mpg combined / 109g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Ford Mondeo Estate, Audi A4 Avant

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