Volkswagen Passat (2011 – 2015) Review
Volkswagen Passat (2011 – 2015) At A Glance
Launched in 2011, the seventh-generation Volkswagen Passat was more of a comprehensive reworking of the sixth-generation car than an all-new model. Not that this matters, because the changes were comprehensive – good enough to edge the Passat closer to the premium players in the competitive family saloon and estate car markets. It sits somewhere between volume cars like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, and premium models like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
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The Volkswagen Passat is one of Europe’s most popular fleet cars. Designed to spend all day on the outside lane of a motorway, it’s a car that majors on comfort, refinement and efficiency. There’s always a ready supply of used examples to choose from, with prices starting from just £2,000.
It’s a class act. Although it competes with other volume cars like the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Skoda Octavia, it offers a level of quality that puts it within touching distance of the premium German rivals. This means you can consider it a genuine alternative to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Not that it’s as good to drive as the 3 Series. Throw the Passat into a corner and you’ll discover that this is a car that prefers to drive in a straight line. It’s too unwieldy and cumbersome to offer anything approaching entertainment, although a 2.0-litre TSI petrol in Sport trim is a pretty decent steer.
Good luck finding a Passat with a petrol engine. The vast majority of cars are sold with 1.6-litre TDI or 2.0-litre TDI diesel engines, which offer a terrific blend of performance and economy. In fact, opt for a 2.0-litre TDI with Volkswagen’s DSG automatic transmission and you could actually beat the claimed fuel economy figures.
There are two versions available: saloon and estate. Both are extremely spacious, making the Passat one of the most practical cars in its class. There’s also a rugged Passat Alltrack, which is a serious rival to the likes of the Audi A4 Allroad and Volvo V60 Cross Country. Four-wheel drive, a host of cosmetic upgrades and a raft of desirable features make the Alltrack a terrific used alternative to an SUV.
The Alltrack is also the most premium version of the Passat range. Elsewhere, the cabin has a quality feel, albeit with a sombre look.
The buttons and switches operate with a reassuringly upmarket feel, while the doors shut with a Germanic thud. Avoid the entry-level version and you get a decent level of standard equipment, but don’t expect the latest driver assistance technology and infotainment system. Many models don’t even feature a touchscreen.
We’d favour the estate over the saloon, if only for the improved practicality. It’s not that the saloon is lacking in space, it’s just that the estate offers greater flexibility. In both cases, the Passat works best as a four-seater, because the middle rear seat is a tad cramped. The other seats are blessed with plenty of headroom and legroom.
It’s not the most exciting car in its class, but if you’re after a safe, spacious, efficient and comfortable car to munch up the miles on a long journey, the Volkswagen Passat is hard to beat. Just avoid the entry-level S trim for the best value for money.