In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate review

The Passat GTE plug-in hybrid estate offers comfort, space and appealingly low running costs – especially for company-car users

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 helped 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. By early 2022, the estate was the only option if you wanted a GTE, with production of the four-door Passat saloon having ceased.

Power comes from the 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, 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, along with 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.

Official fuel economy stands at 180mpg, 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 an 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 keeping cables, there’s no load lip and the rear seats drop easily thanks to quick-release flaps in the boot.

Inside, there’s masses of room for passengers; even tall adults won’t be left wanting for head or legroom, although the fifth passenger in the middle-rear seat might not be too happy on 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 can 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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