Volkswagen Passat GTE (2015) Review

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Volkswagen Passat GTE (2015) At A Glance

30 mile electric range. Strong performance and good refinement. Low company car tax bracket.

Expensive at more than £37,000. Official economy figure is unrealistic.

The plug-in hybrid Volkswagen Passat GTE attempts to combine cheap, pure electric commuting with comfort, strong performance and long distance capability. For the most part it succeeds, but temper your expectations for fuel economy – you won't be surprised to find that most drivers won’t manage anywhere near the official 166mpg.

It's powered by 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine linked to an electric motor, providing a total of 218PS. Thanks to an almost seamless six-speed DSG automatic transmission, the GTE is extremely smooth, quiet and impressively swift when both the engine and electric motor are working together.

When the battery is fully-charged, which takes just over four hours from a three-pin socket or two and a half from a dedicated charger, the Passat GTE has a pure electric range of around 30 miles in ‘e-mode’. That’s according to official figures – the reality is a little less, but still enough for the average short commute.

The rest of the time the Passat GTE is like any other automatic Passat. It’s extremely comfortable and easy to drive, plus it comes with handy convenience features including adaptive cruise control as standard. It’s great whether covering distance on the motorway or in nose-to-tail urban jams.

However, if you’re hoping for more than 100mpg prepare to be disappointed. If the battery is kept topped up, expect to see around 70mpg over a mixed route, or 30-40mpg on the motorway over a long journey. Not bad for a large petrol car, but a long way short of the official figures.

The GTE is as practical as any other Passat. Both saloon and estate variants are offered and boot space isn’t affected by the battery pack or electric motor. The saloon is obviously less practical, with a smaller boot opening, while the estate is huge, providing masses of space for luggage, pushchairs or flat pack furniture.

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. There’s still a lot to like though, especially for thrifty company car drivers, since the GTE's emissions of 39g/km place it in a very low company car tax bracket.

Volkswagen Passat GTE 2015 Road Test

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate 2019 Road Test

Looking for a Volkswagen Passat GTE (2015 on)?
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ASK HJ

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
Is poor electric range on my new Volkswagen Passat GTE grounds for rejection?
My company car just came up for replacement. As I largely do short trips, I decided to ditch diesel and got a Volkswagen Passat GTE last week. My commute is just over 10 miles each way, so I had hoped to be able to get to work and back again on a single charge (Volkswagen claim 31 miles). Despite turning off all unnecessary electrics (including the radio) and driving very gently in regenerative mode, the best I've achieved was 14 miles before the battery gave up. The car isn't really meeting the purpose for which it was bought. Am I likely to have any grounds for rejecting the car because of poor range?
If they say it will do 31 miles on electric power alone and it won't then that is grounds for rejection because 31 miles is an important figure. It qualifies PHEV minicabs for exemptions when entering the London Congestion Zone. Our experience of the Passat GTE was wholly positive. See: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/volkswagen/volkswagen-passat-gte-2015-road-test/ There might be something wrong with your individual car, with its battery pack, or with the type of home charger you are using.
Answered by Honest John
Should I get a hybrid for my company car?
I have a BMW 520d saloon as my company car. I may need to change later in the year for an estate and the hybrids look very attractive, certainly from a tax point of view. The BMW is about £240 per month in tax whereas, for example, a Passat GTE hybrid is about £100 in tax. Both need a contribution from me to the company of about £140, so the Volkswagen Passat GTE is lower in cost by about £140 per month. What do you think about costs and, more importantly, how well they drive?
I was very impressed by the Passat GTE PHEV (though, admittedly, the test drive was in Holland which is mostly flat): http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/volkswagen/ Another possibility is a KIA Optima PHEV: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/kia/kia-optima-phev-2016-road-test/ There's a Mondeo petrol hybrid: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/ford/ford-mondeo-vignale-2015-road-test/ The Prius hybrid: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/toyota/toyota-prius-2016-road-test/ (Prius PHEV coming next month). And, of course, BMW and Mercedes are working on their own.
Answered by Honest John

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