In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate review

The VW Passat GTE plug-in hybrid estate could be the ultimate electrified car for a one-vehicle household

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Useful electric range
  • Good to drive
  • Spacious

Cons

  • Rivals more practical
  • Gearbox occasionally slow
  • Less economical when battery drained
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid34-35 miles188-202mpg31-33g/km

After some time off sale, the Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate returned in 2020 with an improved package compared to the previous model. Gone was the old 9.9kWh battery, replaced by a 13kWh unit that bumped official electric range up to 34 miles. This helps the Passat stay on terms with rivals such as the BMW 330e Touring, Volvo V60 RechargeMercedes C-Class hybrid and its VW Group stablemate the Skoda Superb iV Estate.

Power comes from a combination of a smooth-revving 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor, together producing 215bhp: a six-speed automatic transmission translates this to a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 138mph.

From behind the wheel, the Passat GTE seems to do it all: it’s good to drive (compared to other estate cars we've tested), spacious, practical and reasonably well equipped. LED lights, alloy wheels, DAB digital radio, sat nav, leather seats and blue ambient interior lighting are standard, while the top-of-the-range GTE Advance jumps from 17 to 18-inch alloys and adds LED matrix headlights, voice control, keyless entry and a powered tailgate.

There’s decent safety kit as well, with Volkswagen's ‘Travel Assist’ package including adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. The semi-autonomous technology can automatically adjust your speed when the speed limit changes, and can also use GPS data to slow down for corners, roundabouts and junctions.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity is included, too, making it easy to hook the car up to a smartphone. Also standard are blue brake calipers, C-shaped LED daytime running lights and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen: the GTE Advance model adds a 9.2-inch touchscreen and a larger digital display to boot.

The GTE Estate emits 31 to 33g/km of CO2 (larger-wheeled cars are slightly more polluting). That means a Benefit-in-Kind rating of 11% during the 2021/22 tax year, which is likely to attract company-car users, with the promise of low running costs only strengthening the GTE’s case.

Volkswagen reckons one in four Passat buyers (including those of the saloon model) will go for this plug-in hybrid GTE variant: they have official fuel economy of at least 180mpg to look forward to, although – as is the case with all plug-ins – achieving this in the real world depends on regular charging. Plugging the car’s Type 2 cable into a typical three-pin socket results in a full charge in around five-and-a-half hours, while a 3.6kW home wallbox – the maximum power the GTE will accept – does the same job in three-and-a-half hours.

You can check and control the GTE’s charging and climate-control functions remotely, using a ‘We Connect Plus’ app that works in conjunction with the touchscreen system in the car. Together with the SIM card the Passat comes with (which means it’s always online), this is next-level connectivity and integration for Volkswagen.

Naturally, the Passat GTE Estate is a practical car, however the boot shrinks from 650 to 483 litres compared to the non-hybrid models in the line-up, due to the location of the 13kWh battery. Underfloor storage is useful for storing the cables, there’s no load-lip and the rear seats drop easily thanks to quick-release flaps in the boot itself.

Inside, there’s masses of room for passengers; even tall passengers won’t be left wanting for head or legroom, although the fifth passenger in the middle-rear seat might not be suitable for longer trips. As a family car, there are few better packages than that provided by the GTE Estate, although buyers have to make peace with the fact that the pure petrol and diesel models carry more gear. For more on the Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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