A FEW years ago if you had asked a director to give up their large company car and accept a smaller, more fuel-efficient alternative, you may have been looking for a new job soon
afterwards. Now things are different and greener cars are now a perfectly acceptable executive option.

The seventh generation VW Passat is a good example of what constitutes a frugal yet upmarket managerial motor. The ever-popular German mile-muncher takes on not only a refreshing appearance both inside and out, with every panel apart from the roof being new, but also adopts the latest technologies and efficiency measures to make it one of the most advanced and economical of cars in its class.

Every diesel engine is now badged as a BlueMotion Technology product and is equipped with battery regeneration and Stop/Start systems as standard. A six-speed manual gearbox has been fitted to the 1.6-litre TDI 105 PS engine for the first time; the result is that the model, on test here, will return 65.7 mpg on the combined fuel cycle and emit 114g/km of CO2. And what’s more it is VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) tax band C meaning that road tax is free for the first year. Pretty cost-effective or what?

Three trim levels are available for the new Passat – the S, SE and Sport. Additional equipment added to the new car over the outgoing version includes an iPod interface and leather multifunction steering wheel for the S model. The SE trim level gains an eight-speaker digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a new driver fatigue detection system; while at the top of the range the Sport model gains touch screen satellite navigation.

All Passats are fitted with six airbags, ABS (anti-lock braking system), ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme) and WOKS (whiplash-optimised head restraints) as standard. In addition, the Passat is the quietest and most refined to be made by VW yet. Thicker glass is fitted to the side windows while the windscreen features a thin plastic film sandwiched between two layers of the glass to help reduce noise transmission. The front bulkhead incorporates increased sound deadening which, combined with the latest generation of common rail diesel and TSI petrol engines, aims to cut the engine noise entering the interior of the Passat.

Smooth, solid and classy are words that come to mind for the 1.6-litre TDI base model. The cabin is nicely appointed, with lots of rubber and soft touch materials but very little in the way of cheap plastics. The interior silver trim looks ok, but it is obviously just spray painted, so I would question how durable that will be, but everything else looks fairly hard-wearing. There is also a neat analogue clock in the centre of the dash – evocative of a late 1970s top-of-the-range Ford Granada. It suits it. Honest!

The VW feels well-built, and the seats are comfortable. And, as you would expect from a Passat, leg and headroom is very good while the boot is gigantic. Behind the wheel, it feels punchy enough, but it is quite a heavy car, so don’t expect rocket-ship acceleration – the 2.0-litre engine will be a much better match for the body if being first off the lights matters to you. Nevertheless, for £19,655 on the road, the lower powered entry-level diesel is great value for anyone wanting a sophisticated, fuel saving commuting machine that will double up as a roomy family car.



  • Economical
  • Classy
  • Refined interior
  • Large boot
  • Acceleration X



  • Max speed: 121 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 12.2 secs
  • Combined mpg: 65.7
  • Engine layout: 1598 cc, 4 cylinder, 16 valve turbocharged diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 103 at 4400 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb.ft): 185 at 1500 rpm
  • CO2: 114 g/km          
  • Price: £19,655 OTR

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