New Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid: specs and price
35-mile electric range and saloon or estate bodystyles for updated version of Volkswagen's Passat GTE plug-in hybrid
Offered in both five-door estate and four-door saloon configuration, the latest Passat GTE has an improved electric range of between 33 and 36 miles (varying slightly with bodystyle and spec), plus a range of updates that were made to the whole Passat line-up as part of the car's mid-life facelift in late 2019.
In the UK, Passat GTE pricing starts £36,390 for the saloon and £37,920 for the estate – £1,635 less than before. The previous Passat GTE represented one in 10 UK sales of the model, but Volkswagen anticipates this will rise to one in four with the latest 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 from the petrol and diesel Passats, the GTE model gets blue brake calipers and 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as sports suspension. The higher-spec GTE Advance version 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’s exempt from the London Congestion Charge until October 2021, like anything that emits less than 75g/km.
Fuel economy for the saloon averages 218mpg, dropping to just under 202mpg 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 Passat GTE's 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and electric motor produce 212bhp, while battery capacity has been increased from the old GTE's 10kWh 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 two tenths 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 is available only with a six-speed, dual-clutch, semi-automatic gearbox. Alongside the hybrid, a range of TSI petrol (148-268bhp) and TDI diesel (118-238bhp) engines are also offered.
Interior and technology
Inside, the Passat GTE has Volkswagen's latest App-Connect smartphone interface, with wireless integration of iPhone apps over Apple CarPlay possible. Fitted with a built-in SIM card, the car is permanently online, giving access to real-time traffic information, music streaming, internet radio and web apps. It's also possible to use certain Samsung smartphones as a key for opening and starting the car.
The digital cockpit features instruments Volkswagen says have been considerably enhanced compared to the previous Passat'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.
Driver assistance and safety
Volkswagen says this new Passat is its first model to be capable of partially automated driving at all speeds, from zero to 130mph. Volkswagen has adopted the name 'IQ.DRIVE' across its line-up for a range of driver-assistance technologies.
An adaptive cruise control system – part of what Volkswagen calls 'Travel Assist' – reacts to speed limits, town centres, corners, roundabouts and junctions. The Passat's suite of safety systems also includes emergency steering assistance for the first time, which can help you during evasive manoeuvres by applying the brakes.
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