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2024 Volkswagen Passat Review

9 / 10
26 April 2024
2024 Volkswagen Passat Estate driving

Make sure you consider the new Volkswagen Passat if you’re looking at executive cars like the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

It’s even more spacious than before, and filled to the brim with equipment and tech to make life on the road easy.

What we like:
  • Hugely practical
  • Modern interior
  • High-speed refinement
What we don't like:
  • Some fiddly controls
  • Strained engine sound
  • No diesel engine

Should I buy a Volkswagen Passat?

You’ll hear a lot about the 50th anniversary of the Volkswagen Golf in 2024, but this year also marks half a century of the Passat Estate. This is the ninth-generation Passat, which is quite the achievement given that the big VW is designed to go about its business without anyone really noticing.

There’s no saloon any more – everything rests on the estate model. And VW has called on its value brand, Skoda, for help developing the new Passat. A good idea? Yes, actually – the new Skoda Superb is a phenomenal piece of equipment that’s practical, plush and perfect for families.

While the entry-level Superb Estate is almost £2,500 cheaper than the Passat, we think the cheapest Passat does look a bit smarter than its cousin. A top-spec Passat in sporty R-Line trim is a good £5,000 less than the opulent Superb L&K range-topper. In fact, the Passat seems good value, as both the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant are more expensive, despite being smaller.

Mind you, there are warships smaller than the Passat. Its rear-seat space wouldn’t feel out of place in a £100,000 limousine, and its boot is larger than nearly all the SUVs you care to mention. For swallowing five people and a serious amount of stuff, the Passat is one of the best.

Interior and technology

Previous Volkswagen Passat models had a conservative interior filled with dour monochrome trimmings. Just like the new Tiguan – with which the Passat shares most of its interior and engines – the new Passat throws that conservatism completely out of the window. With an enormous touchscreen taking pride of place, it feels like you’re in the cinema every time you get in.

2024 Volkswagen Passat interior

As standard, the screen is 13 inches, but a 15-inch screen is optional. That’s almost the same size as a Tesla Model 3’s screen but, thankfully, the Passat’s dashboard looks and feels a lot more substantial than the Tesla’s. The materials you’ll touch are generally strong and sturdy, and there are some lovely trim pieces to stop you feeling like you’re in a plastic universe.

Most of the interior is some variation of black or grey, but you can liven up the cabin by choosing one of the colour themes through the screen. This changes not only the colour of the ambient lighting, but also the backlit dash trim, the touchscreen display and the digital dials.

You’ll be using the touchscreen a lot, as it now controls most of the car’s features – including climate settings. It’s a good job that the touchscreen reacts immediately to your inputs – unlike some recent VW systems – and is high-res for maximum clarity.

2024 Volkswagen Passat R-Line front seats

It’s not absolutely perfect, though – the sat nav showing local EV chargers in a petrol car suggests a slight lack of attention to detail, and the volume touch slider is still annoyingly imprecise, basically offering full volume or mute with little in between. Similar story with the touch-controlled panoramic sunroof that comes as standard on Elegance and R-Line trims.

Entry-level Life trim includes digital dials, LED headlights with auto high beam, three-zone climate control, massaging front seats, adaptive cruise control and a powered tailgate. Mid-range Elegance adds suede upholstery to the seats, LED brakelights with changeable lighting designs, upgraded massage seats and aluminium trim. Alongside the black styling pack and 18-inch alloy wheels of R-Line, there’s Matrix LED headlights and 30-colour ambient lighting. Perfect if you’re afraid of the dark.


A reversing camera is fitted as standard on the new Passat, which is handy considering the car has grown by over 10cm. At 4.9 metres long, you get a lot of car, and an absolutely vast amount of space inside.

Like the Superb, the Passat offers a seriously generous amount of legroom. Whether you’re ferrying kids or high-ranking executives, no one will complain about how much space they have to stretch out in. And, while the taller Tiguan offers even more headroom, there’s no shortage of it in the Passat – even on trim levels with the panoramic sunroof.

2024 Volkswagen Passat review boot

There’s easily room for three adults across the rear bench, or a pull-down central armrest with over-engineered cupholders if the middle seat is vacant. Rear-seat passengers get a couple of useful storage pockets, along with their own air-con zone and USBs, but we’re a little disappointed that the seats don’t recline like they do in the Tiguan.

With so much space, wide-opening doors, easily accessible Isofix points and even built-in sunblinds, the Passat makes an ideal parent wagon.

And, even the most prepared parents will struggle to fill the Passat’s class-leading 690-litre boot. It’s a doddle to load enormous items into the long, tall and flat boot, and there are fold-out hooks and deep side pockets for extra versatility. The loadcover pulls across automatically when you shut the boot, and there’s also a bit of extra space under the boot floor in the spare-wheel cavity. In fact, the Passat Estate even comes with a QR code in the boot – scan it and you’ll be sent to a video about the boot’s features. Good if you’re struggling to sleep.

Engines and performance

Diesel engines have long been an essential part of the Passat lineup, so it’s a bit of a surprise that they’ve disappeared for this generation. Your choice is a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a teensy bit of electrical assistance, or a plug-in hybrid.

We drove the 1.5 eTSI petrol, the only engine available at launch. With 150hp to get the porky Passat up to speed, performance is satisfactory at best. An on-paper 0-62mph time of 9.2 seconds sounds fine, but the engine sounds strained under any sort of heavy acceleration.

2024 Volkswagen Passat driving rear view

Only the R-Line trim level gets driving modes, and our Elegance test car felt like it could do with a more responsive setup. An automatic gearbox is standard – the gear selector has moved to the steering column – but it’s a little slow to react and could be slicker with gear changes.

The eTSI engine features mild-hybrid assistance to reduce emissions and allow the stop-start system to engage more frequently. It also boasts cylinder deactivation, where two of the engine’s four cylinders can shut down when they’re not needed. Finally, the Passat’s smooth shape has made it slippery and aerodynamic. That all adds up to a quoted fuel economy figure of 51mpg – so perhaps it’s no wonder there’s no diesel.

2024 Volkswagen Passat digital dials

We expect the plug-in hybrid to be the better engine choice. With the addition of an electric motor, the eHybrid is available with either 204hp or 272hp, and both versions are quicker off the line than the eTSI petrol. While the tradeoff for the 19.7kWh battery is a 180-litre reduction in boot space, you’ll manage up to 60 miles of electric driving from a full charge. Plus, unlike most plug-in hybrids, it’ll fast-charge from a public charger at 50kW.

Officially, the Passat eHybrid will manage over 700mpg, but how close you get to that figure depends entirely on how often you drive on electric power. As the Passat is a company-car favourite, what’s more important is its 9g/km of CO2 output, putting it in the 5% Benefit-in-Kind tax band.

Driving and comfort

Comfort is the order of the day in the Passat – there’s no effort to feel sporty or to please keen drivers. Which makes perfect sense as the Passat will be used for family transport or for long, dull motorway trips. If you want excitement, get a Golf R estate instead.

Big impacts are buffed away like a butler swatting a fly, and the Passat is as refined as you’d hope on faster roads. There’s a bit of annoying road and tyre noise but, in most respects, the Passat is fantastic at soaking up the miles. The eTSI petrol engine offers a range of more than 500 miles, so you’ll need to put fuel in yourself long before the car needs a top up.

The suede-like trim on the seats in Elegance trim is soft and tactile, and the top two trims get 13-point massaging seats for de-stressing after work. Heated and cooled seats are available, as is a ‘Dry Boost’ function that can start to dry damp clothes. We wouldn’t recommend using the Passat as a clothes horse, mind. And, from the seats menu on the screen, you can move the passenger’s seat forwards or backwards from the driver’s seat – which is a feature we’ve never thought about until now.

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