Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate engines, drive & performance
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Provided there’s enough charge in the battery, the Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate will automatically start up in electric-only ‘E-mode’ and stay there unless you’re particularly aggressive with the throttle. When the battery runs out, the car will switch to Hybrid mode, using the engine and any electricity recovered by the regenerative braking system: unless you’re paying attention, you may miss the engine kicking into life, such is the smoothness of the transition.
Flicking into Hybrid mode manually with a decent amount of charge left in the battery will prompt the GTE to figure out the best mix of available petrol and electric power: typically the car will prioritise electric-only running up to around 40mph, with the engine springing back into action at higher speeds when it's at its most efficient.
Finally, there’s a GTE mode, which is equivalent to the ‘sport’ setting in other plug-in hybrid vehicles: it sharpens the throttle response for better acceleration, while playing synthetic engine sounds inside the cabin to add a little flair to the experience.
Elsewhere, the ride strikes the right balance between comfort and handling, making it a relaxing vehicle for passengers without sacrificing reward for the driver.
Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
On paper, the Passat GTE Estate looks very quick for its class, but in reality it’s more sedate than the numbers suggest. Both the GTE and GTE Advance will go from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds on their way to a top speed of 138mph. In electric-only ‘E-mode’, the car can operate at up to 87mph, which is more than enough to get by on motorways and dual-carriageways.
Total output from the 1.4-litre engine and electric motor is 215bhp, although the latter is capable of 113bhp on its own. It’s clear from behind the wheel that the GTE Estate isn’t quite as quick in E-mode as it is when both engine and motor are working together, but there’s still enough speed to merge from a motorway slip road with ease.
Despite the car’s estate dimensions, the Passat GTE is very pleasant to drive, with direct steering making it easy to sweep through tight corners. There’s little in the way of body lean, either, giving the Passat a composed feel on the road.
The ride is decent, too, with few speeds or road surfaces unsettling the car. This makes the Passat GTE Estate a comfortable car to live with, and only the odd pothole or bump in the asphalt will disturb life in the cabin.