VW Passat Estate SE Business 2.0TDI 6spd DSG 03 | 10 | 2016Scotcars rating

    How does the VW Passat estate cope in a 'real world' 1110-mile driving test? We find out

    IT WON’T HAVE passed your attention that Volkswagen has taken something of a battering in the last 12 months in the fallout from the Dieselgate emissions scandal. But the brand has held on to its loyal following in Scotland: in September VW was the third-highest selling marque in Scottish dealerships. Not content with that, it had two cars — the VW Polo and Golf — in the top seven models sold.

    So the time seemed right to highlight the strength not only of the VW fleet, but also the frugalness of its diesel engines, by taking one of its models on an 1100-mile drive.

    For the round trip from Oxford to Huntly — to celebrate Black Bull Scotch Whisky’s backing of Ecurie Ecosse’s McLaren 650S GT3 and 570S GT4 in the British GT Championship — I commandeered a VW Passat 2.0TDI SE Business estate.

    As the bestselling model in the range, it seemed the obvious choice and, with the volume of mileage to be covered, represented what could amount to a week’s worth of driving for someone in the ‘business world’.

    Fitted with the VW Group’s silky-smooth six-speed DSG gearbox, this eighth-generation Passat is designed as more of a cruiser than a sportswagon. But don’t think it snubs its nose at a good, twisty A-road: while it coped admirably with the treacherous A96 from Aberdeen to Huntly, it was a blast on the A920 from Huntly to Oldmeldrum.

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    Interestingly, the latest Passat shares some of its underpinnings with the Golf, accepted as one of the best handling hatches around, so it’s clear the Passat must have picked up a few good things from its baby sister.

    Sure it’s not as dynamic as a Golf — that’s mainly down to its size and weight — but it is a lot more involving to drive than the previous model.

    But where the Passat estate comes into its own is on the motorway, an environment in which it simply excels. Smooth, quiet, comfy and very relaxing, especially with the adaptive cruise control, this is where the car will spend most of its life in the hands of owners.

    That adaptive cruise control is standard on SE-spec models and above. This clever system can keep a set distance between you and the car in front, plus it features an auto braking function that in an emergency can bring the car to a complete stop if it detects an impact is imminent.

    Worth mentioning that up to 80% of Passat sales are to fleet users. Don’t laugh. Fleet managers are canny people, focusing on low costs achieved by excellent fuel economy, low CO2 emissions, competitive servicing and high residuals. All reasons why private retail buyers should also have the Passat high on their shopping list.

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    The Passat Estate carries a £1500 premium over the saloon, and also costs more to buy than an equivalent Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia. However, servicing and insurance costs are similar, and it holds its value better, so it will actually cost private buyers less in the long run.

    And when you compare it with rivals that have a more upmarket image, such as the BMW 3-series Touring and Mercedes C-class Estate, the Passat is both cheaper and roomier.

    The Passat’s loadspace in the boot is near big enough to accommodate a five-a-side pitch. It's so big, its nearest rival space-wise is the Mercedes E-class.

    This is a real old-school estate into which you could fit a sofa in and still have room for the shopping. The boot also has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. The floor has two levels, the top setting for a flat loading area, while underneath there’s space for the spare wheel and a slot for the load cover for when you have a boot full.

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    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 Mondeo and Insignia; in fact it rivals Audi quality. 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 Passats come with a 6.5in central touchscreen, which includes DAB radio and Bluetooth.But the hugely attractive SE Business trim — and all models upwards — get navigation as 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, and meant that when I stepped out of the Passat after my 506-mile, 7hr 30min drive from Oxford to Aberdeen, I was ready to walk straight into a meeting.

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    And here’s a first indication as to real world frugality. Sitting on motorway and dual-carriageway for the whole journey, with cruise set at — let’s say mid-70s, a speed which will not attract the attention of law enforcers — and averaging 65mph, I achieved 56.4mpg. The computer informed me I STILL had a range of 280 miles!

    That figure dropped when the system recalibrated itself in the morning, but it was still well into three figures. And on the 38-mile Aberdeen-Huntly trip, averaging 40mph, the Passat returned 42.7mpg.

    On the long 526-mile run back south from Oldmeldrum, averaging 61mph the Passat returned 55.7mpg.

    Overall, after 1114 miles and 20hrs 34mins driving, at an average 56mph (a complete coincidence, interestingly, that the average speed for my trip is the figure often used to calculate the ‘combined’ fuel consumption) the Passat returned 54.1mpg.

    I know, you’re impressed by the real world figures, but you’re still asking yourself: “But why would I buy a boring Passat estate?”

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    The question you should then be asking yourself is, does buying a Passat make you a boring person? The answer, unequivocally and undeniably is, no, it does not.

    What buying a Passat does do is confirm to the world that you know exactly what makes a terrific estate car, and one which is ideal for the everyday needs of a family.

    “But hold on,” I hear you say, “wouldn’t I be better with an SUV?”

    No you wouldn’t. Most SUVs and lumbering, thirsty and uneconomic boxes which have become the darling of manufacturers’ marketeers eager to tell you: “This is what you want.”

    Ask yourself this: what SUV would give you all the loadspace the Passat delivers, with all five seats in place, and with the cabin quality of the VW? Tough one, eh?

    Whatever SUV you the consider, it’s likely to cost in excess of £45k. List price for the Passat Estate SE Business 2.0-litre TDI 150 PS 6spd DSG? £28,195.

    There’s a simple reason Volkswagen cars continue to be bought in Scotland. We know they offer excellent value for money, and deliver on quality, economy and residuals. Can’t say much better than that.

    Related: Roadtest — VW Touareg V6 TDI

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on twitter.com/Scotcars

    Jim McGill


    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £28,195.00 / £38,085.00
    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 / Band C
    Alternatives: Ford Mondeo Estate, Audi A4 Avant

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