The continued growth of the crossover and SUV market can be seen by the biggest casualties in the large estate segment. The Ford Mondeo went in 2022, with the Vauxhall Insignia following. In fact, the biggest competition for the new Volkswagen Passat is its sister car, the all-new Skoda Superb that we drove in the April issue. Although interestingly, while the Passat is estate-only, the Skoda will also be available in hatch form and will be offered with diesel engines – unlike this Volkswagen. 

Still, like Skoda, Volkswagen see this as a real opportunity to fill the gap for a traditional big estate model. With highlights for the new car being its design, engine choice, the standard-fit driver assist systems, and the MIB4-based infotainment system that we first tried in the Volkswagen ID.7 EV. 

Outside, the similarities between the Passat and Superb are obvious, but the large, open-mounted front air dam, slimmer front grille, different alloy wheel designs, and the R-Line’s dechrome, give the Passat a more purposeful look than the Skoda. Although, with its steeply raked front windscreen and roofline, elongated roof spoiler, along with the redesigned wing mirrors, equal a drag coefficient of 0.25 – the same as the Skoda. However, Volkswagen claims this version of the Passat is its most aerodynamic yet. 

The result of the Passat Estate’s wheelbase growing by 50 millimetres in length and a 144mm longer wheelbase, is obvious really – a more spacious interior. Let’s start with the boot, which has grown by 40 litres, and now equals a massive 690 litres (Superb-rivalling) and up to 1,920 litres with the rear seat folded. Choose the incoming eHybrid plug-in hybrid versions, which fleets probably will, and they lose 80 litres of space thanks to a higher floor. 

In the rear seat, thanks to 50mm more legroom, the space is particularly impressive. The driving position is comfortable, with what seemed like more supportive seats than the Skoda’s, and plenty of (manual) adjustment. Whereas the Superb’s dashboard design is more conventional, despite sharing the same 13in touchscreen (still with too many confusing menus), the Passat’s lack of wood-like trim, multi-function dials, plus flush panels leading into the 10.25in screen for the instruments, give a contemporary feel. 

Elsewhere, there is another multi-function controller in the centre console, but this mostly controls the infotainment and drive modes. Like the Superb, all Passat Estates are auto, with the gear selector on the steering column, the same as fitted to Volkswagen’s ID EV models, which frees up space in the centre console.   

We got to try one of the three engines that will be offered in the Passat Estate. The 150hp version of the 1.5-litre eTSi with 48V mild hybrid tech, is smooth enough, but is torquey (184 lb ft), rather than particularly powerful. 

The two new incoming eHybrid engines, that will be more appealing to fleet drivers, are available in 204hp and 272hp versions. They also use the 1.5 TSi petrol engine, which is combined with a much larger 19.7kWh battery, bringing the promise of a 62-mile EV-only range.

Other good news is that when the eHybrids need charging, they can be charged at DC rapid-charging stations at up to 50kW, equalling a charge from 10 to 80% in around 23 minutes. On the road, our Elegance spec was fitted with 17in wheels, resulting in an impressively refined ride – although it’s worth mentioning that our test car wasn’t fitted with the DCC Proadaptive dampers, which are claimed to improve the ride further and come available as an option.   

So, while it might not be that exciting to drive, the new Passat impresses with its overall competence, refinement, and interior space. If you still have a need for an ICE-powered big estate, the Volkswagen Group now has two options – which you choose is a case of personal taste.

Volkswagen Passat Elegance 1.5 eTSI 150

P11D: £41,325

Residual value: 41%

Depreciation: £23,775

Fuel: £7,886

Service, maintenance and repair: £2,543

Cost per mile: 57p

Fuel consumption: 47.1-51.4mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 125 g/km (30%)

BIK 20/40% a month: £206/£413

Luggage capacity: 690 litres

Engine size/power: 1,498cc/150hp