UNTIL FAIRLY recently the estate car was thought of as the ugly one out of the family. It was the unwritten rule that its saloon and hatchback siblings would be better looking. Today that still holds some truth, but not when it comes to the new Volkswagen Passat.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in my eyes the latest Passat Estate is more appealing than the saloon. But it’s not all about appearance because the VW is also a practical, refined, comfortable and economical car to drive.

Indeed, the Passat is established as a firm favourite with UK buyers, with over 600,000 examples having found homes here since it arrived on the scene in 1973. The seventh generation Passat is the most advanced iteration yet with every model fitted with special sound insulating windscreen glass and new sound deadening materials to make it one of the quietest cars in its class. 

As well as an elegant new look on the inside and out, the Passat can be specified with Automatic Distance Control (ADC) that can instinctively slow the car to a halt should it encounter traffic. In addition, the VW can be fitted with a fatigue detection system that monitors the driver’s inputs and automatically emits an audible and visual warning to recommend a break if required.

Of course, improving safety in cars is vital, but developing cleaner, greener engines is equally important to motor manufacturers – and VW is no exception. That’s why the German company’s diesel engines are now badged as BlueMotion products (why not GreenMotion?) and they are equipped with battery regeneration and Stop/Start systems as standard. The result is that the Passat, on test here in SE 2.0 TDI 140 PS DSG guise, is capable of 54.3 mpg and emits only 135 g/km CO2. That’s pretty good going when you consider the car is fitted with a six-speed auto gearbox (with very handy flappy paddles behind the wheel).

Alright, the 2.0 litre 140 PS (138 bhp) engine isn’t the quickest, but the Passat I had felt solid, well-built and fast enough for purpose. I couldn’t stop praising it when I lifted the tailgate. The load area is vast and it swallowed up everything I needed to chuck in – and more. It’s an ideal car for a family – and as a dad of two young children I felt this might well be a motor I’d choose to buy – if I didn’t already have a perfectly decent Audi A4 Avant. Actually, the Audi I own is a 2003 model and the boot is nowhere near the size of the latest Passat’s!

The VW is perfect for long-distance commutes or short school runs. I never felt tired behind the wheel, despite driving up and down the M6 several times over the week I had the car. And on the short trips to school and nursery the decent turning circle on the Passat came in handy when chucking U-turns in narrow streets.

I can’t believe I’ve been so enthusiastic about an estate car. I must be getting old. But, believe me, if you have a family and you’re in the market for a substantial, comfortable, well screwed-together, economical, load-swallower then the new VW Passat Estate is a car to add to your list of test drives.


  • Good looking √
  • Solid √
  • Economical √
  • Comfortable √
  • Large boot √
  • Not the quickest X


  • Max speed: 129 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 10 secs
  • Combined mpg: 54.3
  • Engine: 1968 cc 4 cylinder 16v turbo diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 138 at 4200 rpm
  • Max. torque (Ib/ft): 236 at 1750 rpm
  • Max. towing weight (braked) 1800 kg
  • CO2: 135 g/km
  • Price: £25,180
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