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

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

Full details of the updated 2019 Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid have been revealed, ahead of the model going on sale in the second half of the year.

Available in four-door saloon and five-door estate bodystyles, the new Passat GTE gets an increased electric range of 35 miles, 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.

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.

The previous Passat GTE was taken off sale during 2018, when the latest WLTP fuel-economy and emissions testing procedure became mandatory. As with the Golf GTE, Volkswagen opted not to put the old car through the expensive new testing process, deciding to wait until the introduction of this revised version to relaunch the GTE.

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

The Passat GTE has a claimed zero-emissions electric range of 35 miles, and although an official CO2 emissions figure hasn't been confirmed yet, it should be low enough to exempt the car from the London Congestion Charge until October 2021 (at which point only fully zero-emissions cars will escape the fee).

An official set of fuel-consumption figures has also yet to be supplied. 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

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.

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 dash 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.

Price and on-sale date

The new Passat will be available to order in some European markets from May and sales of the car will begin from the end of August in Germany. Exact UK ordering and on-sale dates, as well as full pricing and specification information, have yet to be confirmed.