New Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid 2019: pictures, specs, price and on-sale date

35-mile electric range for updated version of Volkswagen's large Passat GTE plug-in hybrid

Full details and UK pricing for the updated 2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid have been revealed. Available in four-door saloon and five-door estate bodystyles, the new Passat GTE gets an increased electric range of between 33 and 36 miles (depending on specification and bodystyle), as well as a host of updates that are being applied across the whole Passat range as part of the model's mid-life facelift.

In the UK, Passat GTE pricing will start at £36,390 for the saloon and £37,920 for the estate – £1,635 less than before. While the previous Passat GTE represented one in 10 UK sales of the model, Volkswagen expects this to rise to one in four with the new car.

Exterior styling changes include redesigned front and rear bumpers, a revised radiator grille and new LED lights all round. New paint colours and alloy-wheel designs, along with interior improvements, have also been added to the range. To differentiate it, the GTE model gets blue brake calipers and 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as sports suspension.

The higher-spec GTE Advance model gains 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, sat nav, a larger 9.2-inch screen and keyless entry.

New Volkswagen Passat GTE range, MPG, CO2 emissions and charging

The Passat GTE has a claimed zero-emissions electric range of between 33 and 36 miles, and with CO2 emissions of 34g/km, it’ll be exempt from the London Congestion Charge until October 2021 (at which point only fully zero-emissions cars will escape the fee).

Fuel economy for the saloon averages 217.9mpg, dropping to 201.7mpg for the estate. The battery can be fully charged from a standard domestic socket in a little over six hours, or four hours from a domestic wallbox charger. Charging can be scheduled using the car's infotainment system, or a smartphone app.

Hybrid engine and performance

Combined, the new Passat GTE's 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and electric motor produce 212bhp, while battery capacity has been increased from 9.9kWh in the old GTE to 13kWh in this new model – a 31% jump. The Passat GTE saloon accelerates to 62mph from rest in 7.4 seconds, while the estate is 0.2 seconds slower.

A selectable Hybrid driving mode enables the bulk of the battery's energy to be conserved for driving in cities or other low-speed environments, with the petrol engine being used for longer-distance, high-speed driving. When this mode is selected, a battery with 10 scale steps is shown on the screen, together with an equals sign, as well as up and down arrows.

Selecting 'equals' maintains the battery's energy at its current level. The up arrow charges the battery using the engine and regenerative braking, while the down arrow draws energy from the battery until it's used up. E-MODE keeps the car purely on electric power, while GTE mode gives the maximum possible output from both the engine and electric motor for sporty driving.

The Passat GTE will be available only with a six-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox. Alongside the hybrid, a range of TSI petrol (148-268hp) and TDI diesel (118-238hp) engines will also be offered.

Interior and technology

Inside, the new Passat gets Volkswagen's latest App-Connect smartphone interface, with wireless integration of iPhone apps over Apple CarPlay being possible for the first time. Fitted with a built-in SIM card, the car will be permanently online, giving access to real-time sat-nav information, music streaming, internet radio and web apps. It'll also be possible to use certain Samsung smartphones as a key for opening and starting the car.

A new digital cockpit features instruments that Volkswagen says have been considerably enhanced compared to the previous model's Active Info Display, with high-contrast graphics and three display configurations. The interior also boasts new trim finishes and fabrics, redesigned door trims, a new trim colour, new instruments and a new steering wheel.

A backlit 'Passat' logo sits in a dashboard panel and the centre console has a storage compartment with optional wireless charging for smartphones and a USB-C connection.

Safety and driver assistance

Volkswagen says this new Passat will be its first model capable of partially automated driving at all speeds, from zero to 130mph. Volkswagen is adopting the name 'IQ.DRIVE' across its line-up for its range of autonomous and driver-assistance technologies.

An adaptive cruise control system – part of what Volkswagen calls 'Travel Assist' – reacts to speed limits, towns, bends, roundabouts and junctions. The Passat's suite of safety systems will also include emergency steering assistance for the first time, which helps the driver during evasive manoeuvres by applying the brakes.