Review: Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011)

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Spacious and comfortable. Wide range of engines. Big, boot with lockable seatbacks. Generally better from May 2008 onwards.

Marred by too many problems for a car people assume will be high quality. 2005-2007 Passat 2.0 TDI best avoided due to oil pump drive failures. Failed electric parking brakes almost inevitable.

Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011): At A Glance

Volkswagen engineers could not make up their minds what to do with the engine of the Passat. At first it was longitudinal, slung ahead of the front wheels like an Audi's.

Then, in 1988, they laid it horizontal across the car, like the Golf's. Then, in 1996, they went back to Audi-style longitudinal. Then in 1995 we got a new Passat, once again with a transverse engine.

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What does a Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011) cost?

List Price from £25,985
Buy new from £21,046
Contract hire from £197.46 per month

Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4765–4774 mm
Width 1820 mm
Height 1472–1517 mm
Wheelbase 2709 mm

Full specifications

This is the biggest, most luxurious Passat VW has ever built. And it bristles with thoughtful features. As well as bottle holders in the doors it has an umbrella holder, like the Skoda Superb's. Also, like the Skoda Superb it has a retractable bag hook in the boot, to hold your Tesco bags upright instead of emptying themselves across the boot floor.

As well as that, in the boot, there are two useful side pockets to stop bits and pieces flying about. For Golfers, the barriers slide out so you can lay at least a couple of bags of clubs across the boot. And under the floor there's a full-size steel spare wheel with no speed restrictions attached.

The car has an electric parking brake. Press the button marked P and the brake discs are electrically clamped. You can even use it as an emergency brake with 60% efficiency. But the clever bit is it releases itself automatically as soon as you start to drive off again.

The rear seatbacks fold down 60:40 so you can poke long objects through from the boot. Behind the centre armrest there's a ski-flap. And the seatbacks and ski flap are all key lockable, for security.

You can sit three across the back comfortably and the centre rear seat even has good lumbar support. So, unlike the Audi A6, the new Passat is a proper 5-seater.

With no handbrake between the front seats there's room for a big sliding top cubby, with two can holders that clamp themselves around the cans. The passenger airbag is switchable. Goodies to come include a pop out Bluetooth compatible phone keyboard, and, as an extra, a 900 watt Dynaudio sound system. Even the CD multiplayer doesn't take all of the glovebox. It hinges up out of the way when you've loaded it.

There are airbags everywhere. Like all new VAG cars the passenger airbag can be switched off to safely carry a baby in a rear facing cradle. And, very sensibly, a warning shows to remind you to switch the airbag back on when carrying an adult passenger.

Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011) like to drive?

There's not much wind roar, tyre noise or engine noise. And you're not aware of the complex sounding electronic safety features because the basic dynamics of the car are so good they rarely feel the need to make their presence felt. It doesn't feel as precise or as sporty as a Mondeo and doesn't bring a grin to your face. But there's nothing wrong with it and that's a quality in itself.

The 2.0 TDI is geared at around 32mph per 1,000 rpm in 6th, which is relaxed enough without being so high you need to change down to 5th if stuck on a 50mph queue. The 2.0 FSI, on the other hand, is geared at just 22mph per 1,000 rpm in 6th, which sounds very low but happens to suit the power and torque characteristics of the 2.0 litre petrol engine. I guess caravanners could successfully tow with either but the 2.0 TDI has the higher maximum braked towing weight of 1,800kg.

The seats are very comfortable. There are lots of places to stow things. I guess the optional satnav could be better as it's merely CD Rom, like the 1996 Passat's, but it showed more streets than the DVD system in the car I drove to the launch. Each of the front door pockets is shaped to take a litre bottle of wine or water or whatever.

Outside, from some angles the new Passat looks very good. I particularly like the headlights. But from front three quarters the long, straight rearmost shutline catches the eye too much and breaks up the basic elegance of the shape.

It will be good to check out other versions as they become available. Particularly the 170PS diesel rival to Toyota's new Avensis diesel, SAAB and Vauxhall's 150PS Multijets, Ford's gruff and ready Mondeo TDCI 155 and the 163PS diesel in the new 3-Series. Let's just hope these powerful new diesels don't lose the plot by sacrificing their fuel economy advantage.

In some ways the old Passat was a rival for the Mercedes Benz C-Class, in that you could buy the same sort of quality with a higher spec for the same money. Like the Honda Accord, the new Passat is even more of a rival to the C-Class. And it's a much better car than the old model.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 TSI 42 mpg 10.5 s 155 g/km
1.4 TSI Estate 42 mpg 10.8 s 159 g/km
1.6 FSI 38 mpg 11.4 s 179 g/km
1.6 FSI Estate 37 mpg 11.7 s 181 g/km
1.6 TDI BlueMotion Estate 64 mpg 12.7 s 114 g/km
1.6 TDI BlueMotion Technology 63–64 mpg 12.4 s 114–118 g/km
1.6 TDI BlueMotion Technology Estate 63 mpg 12.7 s 119 g/km
1.8 TSI 37–38 mpg 8.6 s 172–180 g/km
1.8 TSI DSG 39 mpg 8.5 s 169 g/km
1.8 TSI DSG Estate 38 mpg 8.7 s 171 g/km
1.8 TSI Estate 36–38 mpg 8.8 s 174–186 g/km
1.9 TDI 50 mpg 12.1 s 148 g/km
1.9 TDI BlueMotion 55 mpg 12.1 s 136 g/km
1.9 TDI Estate 49–54 mpg 12.4 s 137–153 g/km
2.0 FSI 35 mpg 9.4 s 193 g/km
2.0 FSI Estate 34 mpg 9.6 s 197 g/km
2.0 TDI 49–60 mpg 9.8–11.8 s 124–153 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 50 mpg 9.8 s 146 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 DSG 47 mpg 9.8 s 158 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 DSG Estate 46 mpg 10.1 s 159 g/km
2.0 TDI 140 Estate 50 mpg 10.1 s 148 g/km
2.0 TDI 170 50 mpg 8.6 s 146 g/km
2.0 TDI 170 DSG 46 mpg 8.6 s 159 g/km
2.0 TDI 170 DSG Estate 46 mpg 8.8 s 163 g/km
2.0 TDI 170 Estate 44–50 mpg 8.8 s 149–169 g/km
2.0 TDI 4MOTION 43 mpg 10.2 s 174 g/km
2.0 TDI 4MOTION Estate 42 mpg 10.5 s 177 g/km
2.0 TDI BlueMotion Technology 58–60 mpg 9.8–11.7 s 124–128 g/km
2.0 TDI BlueMotion Technology Estate 59 mpg 10.1 s 127 g/km
2.0 TDI CR 50 mpg 8.6–9.8 s 146 g/km
2.0 TDI CR 170 50 mpg 8.6 s 146 g/km
2.0 TDI CR 170 Estate 50 mpg 8.8 s 149 g/km
2.0 TDI CR 4MOTION 47 mpg 10.2 s 158 g/km
2.0 TDI CR 4MOTION Estate 46 mpg 10.5 s 159 g/km
2.0 TDI CR Estate 50 mpg 8.8–10.1 s 148–149 g/km
2.0 TDI Estate 44–58 mpg 8.8–12.0 s 129–169 g/km
2.0 TSI 36 mpg 7.6 s 186 g/km
2.0 TSI Estate 35 mpg 7.7 s 188 g/km
R36 29 mpg 5.6 s 227 g/km
R36 Estate 29 mpg 5.8 s 229 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

20–63 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Why does the passenger side footwell of my car keep getting damp?

I have damp on the floor of the passenger side of my ten year old Volkwagen Passat. Where is this likely to be coming from?
Probably a blocked drainage vent well in the bulkhead. The owner's manual should instruct you how to clear this. The vehicle's pollen filter will also probably need changing.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What Cars Are Similar To The Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2011)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Comfortable seats, Diesel engine, Refined ride, Economical and Large family.

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What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 33%
  • 4 star 17%
  • 3 star
  • 2 star 17%
  • 1 star 33%

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