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First report: Volkswagen Passat long-term test

Date: 15 September 2020   |   Author: Simon Harris

An unsung hero of the upper-medium sector, we take delivery of the latest Volkswagen Passat.
Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI 150 SEL DSG
P11D price: £31,435
As tested: £37,310
Official consumption: 53.3mpg
Our average consumption: n/a
Mileage: 1,100

First report: Passat's time to shine

The upper-medium sector was once the heart of the fleet arena. In the era of the Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Cavalier, this was how company sales reps were put on the road, and one-upmanship could be found in engine size and the length of the equipment grade badge.

Now, in the era of the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, these cars have annual sales typically in four figures rather than five, but while the names might have changed for two of the biggest brands in the fleet sector, Volkswagen's Passat is a mainstay.

The Passat was launched in 1973, before the iconic Volkswagen Golf, and the name must resonate in a way that the Cortina or Cavalier didn't because it's still here.

The reason sales in the upper-medium segment, or D-sector, have diminished is because of the increased appeal of SUVs and premium-badge models. Even within the Volkswagen range, there is a model above the Passat - the Arteon - to try to compete with premium-badge rivals such as the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé and Audi A5 Sportback.

And Volkswagen has decided to offer the more upmarket sibling in an estate as well as the four-door fastback from the soon-to-be-launched facelifted version.

While the upper-medium sector has lost some of its importance to user-choosers, it's a shrinking pool of talented cars.

The Skoda Superb has been a winner in this category in the Business Car Awards for the past few years, and, sharing much of its technology with the Volkswagen, the Passat must have its work cut out for recognition.


So why did we choose it? The Passat is still a strong seller in this sector - with sales similar to the Vauxhall Insignia, and dwarfing the volume of rivals such as the Ford Mondeo, Peugeot 508, Mazda6 and the Skoda Superb.

And we chose the latest version of Volkswagen's 2.0-litre diesel engine, despite all the negative associations with diesel in the mainstream media, which seems to be rubbing off on the behaviour of private car buyers.

With 150hp, and the DSG automatic, the Passat saloon just hits 130g/km, which is still a threshold for many fleets choosing ICE vehicles.

The Passat GTE would offer lower BIK tax, but policing charging is still difficult for fleet operators, and drivers still need the discipline to ensure they don't rely only on the vehicle's petrol engine.

Out Passat's official fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg might impress under WLTP, but I've achieved as high as 76.0mpg according to the trip computer so far, and I'll verify what it's capable of at the next round of refuelling.

Our SEL might lack some of the presence of the R-Line, but it has smaller wheels and a more compliant suspension. Leather seats come as standard, as does satellite navigation and adaptive cruise control.

We've ticked a few extra boxes that perhaps show a user-chooser in a premium-badge car what they are missing for the money.

Standard equipment: Discover Navigation system including streaming and internet, adaptive cruise control, 17in alloy wheels, automatic dimming interior rear-view mirror, Bluetooth, Keyless Go, electrically adjustable backrest on driver's seat, road sign recognition, electronic parking brake, heated front seats, lane-keeping assistant, traffic jam assistant, rear privacy glass, leather seats.

Options: Upgraded dashboard screen with digital cockpit (£2,200), Matrix LED headlights (£1,700), Area view and rear-view camera (£835), Ambient lighting plus (£470), Metallic paint (£670)