Volkswagen Passat GTE (2015) Review

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Volkswagen Passat GTE (2015) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Passat GTE is at its best if used for short commutes with occasional long distance journeys. For those who tend to spend a lot of time on the motorway a diesel is still a better bet – and they’re cheaper to buy too.

+Understated and neat styling, huge standard equipment, fine all-round performance and easy to get excellent economy, 34 mile EV range.

-Not cheap to buy, all that additional weight does rob the Passat of some of its agility, some rivals have better EV only range.

If there’s anything less offensive in the motoring world than a Volkswagen Passat then we’ve yet to discover it, and with the GTE the Passat gets even more sensible thanks to a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It mates a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with an electric motor and battery, which has enough power when fully charged to allow the Passat GTE up to 34 miles of quiet, electric-only motoring. It, like its conventionally powered relations, is offered in both saloon and estate guises, with the estate not just being bigger, but the bigger seller of the pair.

Looking for a Volkswagen Passat GTE (2015 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

A plug-in Passat is about as sensible a car as you could ask for, the perennial family and business buyer’s favourite made even more appealing with the addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Passat GTE is the result, a car that’s able to drive as far as 34 miles on its battery power alone, which should cover the average commute for most owners. If you’re travelling further, then the 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine gives the GTE greater, long-legged range, with the electric motor still assisting at the same time. 

That, like so many plug-ins, gives the Passat a genuinely useful duality, allowing short, local journeys to be undertaken on battery power, meaning no tailpipe emissions on school runs, shopping trips or the daily commute.

Should you wish to hold the battery’s charge for destination electric-only driving then there’s the possibility to do so with a battery hold mode, while the GTE will do that usual hybrid double act of blending both powertrains to maximise the economy on longer trips.

If economy isn’t necessarily your thing, unlikely given it’s a considerable part of the GTE’s make-up, then the GTE mode primes the drivetrain to give the best of the combined power to maximise sporting performance. 

The GTE’s plug-in drivetrain might be the headline act, but elsewhere the Passat GTE shares all the same characteristics of its conventionally-powered relations, and in some areas builds on them considerably.

It’s beautifully built inside and out, the styling classy and neat throughout, and the build quality and materials in the cabin is right up there with the best of the premium contenders. Where it gains over its conventionally-powered rivals is its smoothness and refinement, it particularly quiet and comfortable when driving in electric-only mode, with good performance, too.

That electric plug-in hybrid element to the drivetrain impacts on the running costs, too, with it particularly tax efficient if you’re running it as a company car. 

Set it to charge at night on a cheaper electricity rate, and, if your daily use is within its EV-only range, you’ll rarely need to stop at a petrol station to fill it up.

The GTE benefits from a greater specification than its middling Passat relations, with the GTE Advance being a veritable technological fest, so if you like your technology it’s the one to go for. Adding to the breadth of ability of the already impressive Passat, the GTE is a desirable plug-in, which benefits not just the environment, but your pocket, if you can ignore the not inconsiderable cost of buying it. 

Ask Honest John

Are there any electric vehicles that can safely tow a 1500kg caravan?
"Are there any electric vehicles which can safely tow a caravan of 1500kg? I currently have a Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 diesel which is a superb tow car - can anything electric replace it at a similar cost?"
Not at a similar cost. The only EVs that can currently tow are expensive SUVs like the Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC. You'd be better considering a plug-in hybrid like a Volkswagen Passat GTE (which can officially tow up to 1600kg).
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend a plug-in hybrid family car?
"We're a family of 5 looking to replace our recently dead 'station car' with a hybrid - which my wife will use to take the children to school (30 mile round trip) and I will use our other car, a Nissan Qashqai+2, as the station car (5 mile trip). We also have a dog so this would need to be able to fit into the boot. Please can you recommend a plug-in hybrid option? We're very keen to only use the battery as much as possible and would recharge during the day. We've been looking at the Mitsubishi Outlander but are wondering if there are better options. Many thanks in advance."
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV used to be our plug-in hybrid of choice, but it's now a bit dated and there are better alternatives available. Have you considered a Skoda Superb iV? It's available as an estate, with a huge boot and an official electric range of up to 35 miles (around 20 might be more realistic, in our experience). Also consider the very similar Volkswagen Passat GTE.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can I keep a low fuel level in a hybrid?
"I recently bought a Volkswagen Passat GTE. My local commute is only 10 miles round trip so I'm running almost exclusively on electricity except if I make a long journey. Would the car be more efficient, handle and perform better if I kept the petrol tank near empty - except before a long journey? Or would this cause some other problems?"
It's generally a very bad idea to run any car on low fuel levels. It will force all of the dirt from the bottom of the tank into the engine. This could clog up the fuel pump or fuel filter. I'd recommend keeping the tank a quarter full at all times.
Answered by Dan Powell
What hybrid car should I buy for commuting long trips?
"I'm looking for a new company car and l'm interested in hybrid vehicles due to the lower BiK rates in comparison with diesels. I will be doing regular 100-mile journeys, so need to factor in real world mileage rates. I'd like a hybrid that can do reasonable electric-only miles with a decent real world figure when it comes to long runs. I do about 20,000 miles per year and I have around £35,000 to spend. Any thoughts?"
A normal hybrid only does 5-10 miles on the electric motor alone. A PHEV does 20-30 miles on the electric motor alone. Both of them regeneratively recharge on a run. How much they regenerate is influenced by the way you drive and the terrain over which you drive. Toyota says that over big distances a plain hybrid Prius works out more economical than a Prius PHEV. But on a run of 100 miles or so we averaged more than 80mpg. It's worth noting that the current Prius steers and handles exceptionally well.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Volkswagen Passat GTE (2015) cost?

Contract hire from £355.87 per month