Nearly new buying guide: Volkswagen Passat Estate

Volkswagen Passat estate front three quarter

The current Passat estate may be 10 years old, but it remains an excellent choice

Multifarious executive estate will suit if you need something classy, well-made and hugely practical

It may be almost a decade old now, but the current Volkswagen Passat Estate is still a top choice if you’re after a classy wagon that’s good to drive, comfortable to ride in, decently refined and huge inside. Launched in 2014, the Mk8 looks and feels totally modern but has been around for long enough to have become tempting value on the used market. 

The petrol engines all have four cylinders and are badged TSI. They start with a 1.4-litre making 124bhp or 148bhp, rise to a 178bhp 1.8-litre and then culminate with a 2.0-litre packing 187bhp, 218bhp or 268bhp. 

There’s also a plug-in hybrid powertrain, badged GTE, which pairs a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine with and an electric motor to produce a combined 215bhp. Expect an electric-only range of about 30 miles, or 40 miles in post-facelift cars.

Also as part of that 2019 update, the 1.4-litre petrol units were replaced by a new 148bhp 1.5-litre engine. 

However, most Passat buyers choose a diesel engine (badged TDI), and again there are plenty of options here, each having four cylinders. They begin with a 118bhp 1.6-litre and move up to a 2.0-litre with 148bhp, 187bhp or, in twin-turbocharged form, 241bhp. 

In 2020, the 1.6-litre and BiTDI 2.0-litre were dropped, with a 120bhp 2.0-litre unit replacing the former. 

Originally, the Passat Estate was offered in five trim levels: S, SE, SE Business, GT and R-Line. S provided fairly decent kit (such as heated mirrors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and rear electric windows), but SE and SE Business added some very useful features, including automatic wipers, automatic lighting, front and rear parking sensors and sat-nav. GT got climate control, heated seats and adaptive suspension as standard, while R-Line brought a sharper and sportier design to the car and even more equipment.

After the facelift, Volkswagen simplified the trim range to just SE Nav, SEL and R-Line. SE Nav improved on the previous SE with an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen with sat-nav and voice control. SEL added roof rails, privacy glass and heated front seats, R-Line tri-zone climate control and keyless entry. 

Spaciousness and practicality are where the Passat Estate excels. It has a 650-litre boot, whose volume is beaten only by its Skoda sibling, the Skoda Superb Estate, and rear seats that accommodate six-footers with ease. 

But there’s more to the Passat Estate’s interior than its magnitude, because it features a range of soft-touch materials and solid-feeling switchgear, contributing to a feel-good, upmarket ambience, especially on post-facelift models. 

If you tow a trailer or caravan, the Passat Estate is certainly an attractive choice for you as well. Seek out a car fitted with the Trailer Assist option, which enables it to automatically reverse a trailer or caravan into a parking spot. 

Prices start at around £7000 for an early car. Spend between £9000 and £12,000 on 2016-2017 examples, £12,000 to £14,000 on 2018 cars and upwards of £16,000 on post-facelift Passats. The PHEV is rare and was pricier, so set aside at least £15,000 or more likely £20,000.

Need to know

The Passat’s Skoda Superb sibling is the roomier of the two estates, thanks to a 50mm-longer wheelbase, and usually costs less to buy used, the compromise being a slightly cheaper-feeling interior.

The 1.5 is the most frugal petrol, at 45.6mpg, while the diesels should reach the high-50s. 

The Passat came out well in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, ranked fifth of 26 executive cars, although Volkswagen overall was 22nd of 32 manufacturers.

Buyer beware

ESP failure: Some earlier models suffered electronic stability control failure, potentially imperilling occupants. Contact your local VW dealer. 

Welding issues: There have been two recalls relating to the rear-seat backrest. A small number of Passats built between 1 May and 31 August 2018 may have been fitted with seats where the welds on the backrest head restraint mounting could fail in an accident. A further recall was issued for cars made between 12 and 22 February 2019, again for faulty frame welds. 

Not enough torque: A software update was required on cars made between 9 October 2018 and 28 May 2019 in order to increase the amount of torque produced at low speeds to improve drivability.

Our pick

2.0 TDI 150: Providing wallet-pleasing fuel economy and strong torque along with the power to comfortably carry a full car of passengers with luggage, this mid-range diesel is sure to be a worthy option. 

Wild card

2.0 TSI 270: If you’re looking to have a bit of fun when the family isn’t with you, consider this 268bhp petrol engine, which shifts the Passat from 0-62mph in less than 6.0sec, in combination with R-Line trim.

Dylan Lumpe

Source: Autocar

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