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Like an SUV, but better: our VW Passat Estate long-termer departs

Published: 15 September 2017

► VW Passat Estate long-term test review
► This one's the 2.0 Bi-TDI diesel with AWD
► Is the screenwash reservoir emptying itself?

Month 13 living with a VW Passat Estate 4Motion: goodbye and thanks for all the memories

So, farewell then Passat Estate; it’s been a slice. With the possible exception of the evil-smelling dog, I don’t think anyone in the family has ever lacked for comfort, space and practicality over the course of the year.

Combine that with more than enough oomph in the engine room to keep the driver interested, allied to tidy handling manners and sufficient grip to turn the younger hooligan an interesting shade of greenish grey at remarkably short notice, and the only argument I can conjure in favour of the dynamically inferior SUV club is having your hooter a few inches higher off the ground in traffic. That and, of course, the my-pink-half-of-the-drainpipe snobbery associated with life in Oneupmanship Close.

Fast estates have always gone down well in this house, and though 237bhp and 369lb ft may seem relatively small beer these days, its delivery to all four wheels via VW’s seven-speed DSG gearbox elicits smooth and pleasingly rapid progress through foul weather and fair.

VW Passat Estate long-term rear tracking

If any criticism were due a drivetrain featuring the most powerful iteration of the company’s 2.0-litre diesel, it would be that it’s a whisker noisier than ideal.

It is, moreover, much like its custodian, somewhat inclined to thirst. I had hoped that an Easter outing to the West Country would see fuel consumption climb above the high-30s typical of short-distance school and cake delivery runs, but in fact the average seemed to have trickled backwards a tad.

Already respectably equipped in standard 30-grand guise, this Passat came further laden with an additional £6500-worth of goodies. Keyless entry, a rubber boot mat, heated outer rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and the head-up display I’ll swing for.

VW Passat Estate long-term rear cornering

But everyone who climbs in curses roundly until they’ve managed to deactivate the lane keeping assistance; if I wish to know what the Passat looks like from above I’ll borrow a drone; I remain unconvinced that replacing analogue dials with faux analogue dials achieves much; and I don’t believe even the car-crazy elder hooligan ever put voice activation to the test. If I want to know what the weather’s up to I’ll look out of the window, and I already have a news feed – it’s called Radio 4.

Firmly siding with the get in, shut up and drive school of motoring, then, I’m gently ashamed to admit that both the missus and I were still discovering new titbits within diverse on-screen menus even as we waved our decidedly fond farewells.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm 
Gearbox 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310 
Miles this month 511 
Total miles 10222
Our mpg 36.9
Official mpg 52.3
Fuel this month £50.10
Extra costs £0

Count the cost

Cost new £43,310 (including £6760 of options)
Dealer sale price £23,492
Private sale price £22,248
Part-exchange price £21,003
Cost per mile 16p
Cost per mile inc. depreciation £2.38


Month 12 living with a VW Passat Estate 4Motion: it's sprung a leak!

How typical of the otherwise unimpeachable Passat to wait until the bunting has been hung and the ship-to-shore streamers flung in anticipation of teary-eyed departure before developing the merest suspicion of a fault.

I say suspicion because it is just possible that the missus has taken to washing her hair in the headlamp cluster cleaning jets. Or perhaps she’s securing the dog’s lead to the relevant lever... Either way, the screen ‘n’ lamp wash reservoir is currently emptying faster than an English Electric Lightning’s fuel tank. So I suppose that must go down as a leak.

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm 
Gearbox 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310 
Miles this month 351  
Total miles 9711
Our mpg 36.8  
Official mpg 52.3 
Fuel this month £59.48  
Extra costs £0


Month 11 living with a Volkswagen Passat Estate: preset pickiness

From its snug socket atop the dashboard, the Sea Fury gun-sight sliver of smoked glass that is the head-up display continues to leap up and down like a hermit’s fist; a constant reminder that one of the Passat’s few shortcomings is the absence of memory presets by which the missus and I may store our favoured driving position and settings.

In an ideal world, the scope of said presets would not only encompass a driver’s seat bizarrely power-operated in the seatback-rake department only, but also the air conditioning, radio and mirrors.

Then all that will be lacking on changeover is a large waste-paper basket in the centre console and a spring-loaded phone cable to re-house our current remorseless tangle of excursion-bent electronic tapeworm.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm 
Gearbox 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310 
Miles this month 434  
Total miles 8383 
Our mpg 36.2  
Official mpg 52.3 
Fuel this month £76.87  
Extra costs £0


Month 10 living with a Volkswagen Passat Estate: the joy of locks

Over the years, two key maxims have guided the ff-C family through life on a course about as unerringly straight and comprehensible as that of a rubber bullet fired into a squash court. 

The first, ‘It Seemed a Good Idea at the Time’, is reserved for gravestones (although it’s not a patch on Spike Milligan’s ‘I Told You I Was Ill’). The second, ‘If All Else Fails, Read the Instructions’, is a constant companion, and the consistency with which it is studiously ignored is best exemplified by the fact that the instruction manual remains easily the most pristine part of the Passat.

Which also explains why it has taken us 10 months to discover a sub-menu buried deep within the waistcoat pocket fluff of another sub-menu, which allows us to unlock all the doors, and the tailgate, simultaneously via the mobile phone-phobic keyless entry system, rather than just the driver’s door.

Little short of a revelation, this is a source of deep joy to the missus, who, invariably more with it first thing in the morning than me, tends to be in charge of... well, everything, including the school run. Fed up with fumbling for the Unlock switch on the door card as chilly children clamour for access, she has finally put up with the prattling Chris Evans for long enough to stay put and fix it.

What she has not yet done, however, is to find a way of dimming the head-up display sufficiently for it not to distract her when driving after dark that doesn’t merely involve switching the whole thing off. Or locating Radios 1 and 2 in anything but FM, even if they’re listed, Right There, in the DAB menu that gives me access to Radio 4 Extra and the cricket. Hmmph... Nothing like choice for promoting confrontation.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310
Miles this month 434  
Total miles 8383
Our mpg 36.2  
Official mpg 52.3
Fuel this month £76.87  
Extra costs £0


Month 9 running a VW Passat Estate: washing up gloves 1, stinking moulting dog 0

Mudfordshire more than living up to its name at this time of year, I was yesterday somewhat astonished to climb into a car with an interior so clean that I worried for a moment I had inadvertently gained access to someone else’s Passat.

A charming letter in the newspaper the other day recounted the tale of a formidable dame reassuring her grubby granddaughter that she’d ‘eat a peck of dirt’ before she died; ‘peck’ in this case referring to a now gently archaic measurement of volume equivalent to about two gallons.

Anthony ffrench-Constant's dog and the CAR magazine VW Passat Estate

Well, the last time I looked, the Passat seemed intent on getting through its own lifetime’s helping in one sitting; the interior so clogged with congealed countryside that it was right up there with the local F Giles’ Land Rover in the surplus shinola pecking order. 

Quite how the missus managed to return the cabin – and, most notably, the carpets – to near-showroom status is beyond me, but I understand that a pair of bright yellow Marigolds played a key role in proceedings. Not, you understand, for the protection of hands that do dishes, but to collect dog hair.

Now, I always thought dogs moulted every now and then, but our evil smelling variety habitually leaves every surface available to it looking like a barber’s shop floor on the day that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young finally removed the ‘Almost’ from the song title. 

Thing is, dog hair is utterly immune to the ministrations of the vacuum cleaner. But don a Marigold and rub the carpet or upholstery, and you’re instantly rewarded with such Slazenger-sized clods of the stuff that the missus has taken to filling the wire fat-ball container on the bird table with it, whence it is promptly purloined for the lining of nests. I never knew birds lacked a sense of smell...

Happily, such shenanigans need not extend aft to the load space; frequent frantic scrabbling noises suggest that the removable, hose-down plastic tray therein may not offer much in the way of paw control during cornering, but it does ensure that the carpet beneath remains pristine.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant


VW Passat Estate

Month 8 running a VW Passat Estate: filling with AdBlue

Judging by the amount of information screen-sponsored yelling at me the car has been doing of late, it would appear that – despite the Volkswagen Passat still having over 10,000 miles to run until it’s due for a first service – it’s, oh Lordy... maintenance time.

The scope of my technical knowledge being almost exclusively limited to old British Hi-Fi components and the adjustment of telescopic sights for the purposes of mid-range rat slaying, I have, thus far, managed to studiously ignore the presence of a second cap under the fuel filler flap mysteriously marked AdBlue.

Recently, however, the flashing warnings became increasingly strident and expletive-laden, to the tune of ‘Look, knucklehead; if you don’t add AdBlue within a couple of hundred miles, the car won’t start and your missus simply will not stop.’

My curiosity piqued, Google has finally explained to me after all these years why it was that my dad so assiduously peed on his compost heap every night.

For AdBlue, I gather, is about one third urea (as in urine) and two thirds deionised water, and injecting this mixture into the exhaust gas stream is fundamental to sufficiently reducing NOx emissions to make the Passat’s turbodiesel engine Euro 6 compliant.

Gleeful visions of the massed ranks of VW employees being required to pee into bespoke containers within corporate lavatories were sadly shattered, however, upon learning that synthetic urea production is commonplace, and a regular ingredient of fertiliser.

Good job it’s so ubiquitous, though, because, less than 8000 miles in, the shouty screen informed me that I needed to slosh a minimum of six litres of the stuff aboard to keep the engine happy. 

Now, the maths, as you can imagine, are beyond me, but with an additive tank capacity of some 13 litres and the first service not due for 18,000 miles, ever reaching the latter without recourse to attending to the former would appear to fall into the Fat Chance category. 

Further exercising the bonnet hinges, a second phalanx of warnings has danced the pas de deux with the AdBlue countdown, suggesting that coolant levels were also low. 

Happily, an extremely nice man at my local VW emporium explained that the 2.0-litre bi-turbo’s cooling system is quite complex and a considerable length of hosing is involved. From new, said hose stretches a tad over time, and the coolant level drops a whisker accordingly...

And there was I thinking the age of home car maintenance was no more.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v 4-cylinder bi-turbo diesel, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750rpm  
Gearbox 7-speed automatic dual-clutch, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310 
Miles this month 486  
Total miles 7553  
Our mpg 38.7 
Official mpg 52.3  
Fuel this month £77.80  
Extra costs £12.70


Month 7 running a Passat wagon: the niggles of long-term ownership

Strike me a pinky: just when I feared we’d sail through VW Passat Estate tenure without so much as a whiff of vexation, along come three minor gripes all at once...

Firstly, it seems that hotel key cards are not the only thing the efficacy of which is destroyed by mobile-phone proximity. Whilst praise may be heaped on the car’s hands-free access and start system because you genuinely do not have to remove the key from your pocket to unlock, start or re-lock the Passat, we’ve discovered that you’re onto a hiding for nothing if you try to do so with key and phone in the same pocket. Still, at least you don’t have to wind your way all the way back to reception to rectify the situation.

Secondly, the elder hooligan’s gently bizarre insistence on stowing his school bag in the loadspace for a scant seven minute journey has highlighted the occasional clash between the reversing camera (below) and tailgate opening mechanisms.

The VW Passat's reversing camera

Keeping it admirably grot-free, the camera is stowed behind the very VW badge that opens the tailgate. Trouble is, the badge takes a while to automatically hinge shut once reverse gear is disengaged, during which time it adopts chocolate-fireguard status when it comes to affording access astern. And children are not patient.

Thirdly, the stop-start automatic engine shut-off function having essentially fulfilled its tax-band role at point-of-sale, ’tis a shame it isn’t automatically off, rather than on, every time you start the car.

The hunting down of seemingly welded shut, clear plastic, anti-oiler gloves at service stations aside, we have no complaints about the lusty bi-turbo diesel except its tardiness in restarting from auto-stop at junctions where prompt action is the only guarantee of progress. Which is why audible gripe inevitably attends its dismissal.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4Motion

Engine 1968cc 16v 4-cylinder bi-turbo diesel, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm  Gearbox Six-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310  
Miles this month 1520
Total miles 7067  
Our mpg 40.9  
Official mpg 52.3
Fuel this month £217.60  
Extra costs £0


Month 6 running a VW Passat Estate: there are floor mats in there, somewhere

Never mind wasps; the book I badly need to read is called ‘Does Anything Eat Mud?’ With late autumn Mudfordshire more than living up to its moniker, and even the stoutest excursion footwear instantly encased in giant, cloying dumplings of clay, the driver’s footwell appears to be the victim of the dirtiest protest imaginable.

The CAR magazine VW Passat long-term test review

Sadly, it transpires that mud is the one thing on the planet the evil-smelling dog will not devour. So, unless David Attenborough suddenly unearths a strange Madagascan marsupial with a penchant for slurry, it’s going to be a long, messy winter.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v 4-cylinder bi-turbo diesel, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm  
Gearbox 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive 
Stats 6.3 sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310
Miles this month 1495
Total miles 5547
Our mpg 38.6
Official mpg 52.3
Fuel £143.88
Extra costs £0 


Month 5 living with a VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 BI-TDI 4Motion: what have SUVs ever done for us?

‘Look over walls, tease people, shave your legs, wrestle poodles and win... Three years ago I was a six-stone apology; today, I am two separate gorillas…’ Thus Vivian Stanshall’s accidentally prescient mantra of SUV ownership and all the command driving position kudos you can eat continues to woo, well, almost everybody it seems.

Hang on, though; now that we’re all cruising at the same hedgerow-conquering height, bang goes the once oh-so-marketable benefit of a better view out in traffic. Moreover, modest hike in ground clearance aside, I struggle to conjure another reason to opt for a mode of family transport which is merely a taller, wobblier, often underpowered and inevitably less attractive tin to shift than the time-honoured alternative. 

What then, of the woodie, the station wagon, the humble estate car? Why has the upstart SUV so thoroughly usurped the snug billet of the dear old depot hack in the nation’s affections? Truth be told, my burgeoning affection for this automotive genre is hardly fuelled by a raft of euphoric reminiscence…

Early memories of the family’s maroon-and-white Morris Oxford estate with the whippy yellow fibreglass aerial are blighted by a capacity for vomiting on warm leatherette so copious that I inevitably completed interminable journeys to the West Country perched, untethered, on the central armrest of the tonsil-hockey-friendly bench front seat; a puke-flecked involuntary bonnet mascot in the making.

And an increase in age saw little increase in entertainment value. Attempts to lose my virginity in the commodious aft accommodation of my mum’s Peugeot 204 estate fell on relentlessly stony ground, as did a later Le Camping holiday ambition of doing to a fellow architectural student that which ‘The Donald’ will doubtless do to America given half a chance.

2016 VW Passat long-term test

All of which brings us, um, bang up to date, and five months into a Passat tenureship that has not only proved decidedly plain sailing, but also somewhat more user-friendly than that offering by many a comparable SUV.

For starters, the Passat effortlessly delivers the ‘car-like’ driving position both promised and oft compromised by so many specimens of SUV, largely by dint of actually being a car. There’s stacks of rear seat room without the need for complex sliding mechanisms, and – accessed via a lip significantly lower than that of any soft-roader – the loadspace is sufficiently cavernous to promote quite a plastic mat-sponsored build-up of slithering speed in the evil-smelling dog.

Even crisp, frill-free looks that many have labelled ‘staid’ serve a purpose; the absence of the rising belt-line pioneered by a daring wedge of Emmental and subsequently adopted en masse by the automotive design tribe ensures rear glazing of sufficiently grandiose proportions to spare offspring the claustrophobic indignities of stock SUV rear accommodation.

Lob in the most powerful iteration of Volkswagen's 2.0 turbodiesel mated to the sand-free Vaseline of dual-clutch transmission, wet gymkhana-grass-conquering all-wheel drive, and roll- and vice-free handling, and what’s not to like? Yet another new tyre at £152.00 plus VAT, that’s what.

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v 4-cylinder bi-turbo diesel, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm  
Gearbox 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive
Stats 6.3 sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310  
Miles this month 450  
Total miles 4502  
Our mpg 37.1  
Official mpg 52.3  
Fuel this month £69.42
Extra costs £182.40

By Anthony ffrench-Constant


2016 VW Passat long-term test

Month 4 with a VW Passat Estate: tyre pressure tribulations

Three autumns ago, after a fistful of filthy winters on the trot, I rebooted my beloved old V8 Land Rover with new rubber only marginally less deeply etched than Mick Jagger’s face. The skies have not, of course, so much as sneezed since.

By way of consolation, the Landie has yet to visit the forecourt air-hose – a far cry from the Passat, which now has a season ticket. Mindful, however, of its unnerving behaviour in my parent’s Seat, I’m more suspicious of VAG’s pernickety tyre pressure warning system holding water than I am the undercarriage itself holding air.

Logbook: VW Passat Estate 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION   

Engine 1968cc bi-turbo diesel 4-cyl, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission 7-speed DSG, awd  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310  
Miles this month 553  
Total 4052  
Our mpg 35.9  
Official mpg 52.3  
Fuel £149.04  
Extra costs £0

By Anthony ffrench-Constant


2016 Volkswagen Passat long-term test

Month 3 with a VW Passat Estate: we’ve reached cruising height 

A gently care-worn doctor chum of my dad has often opined that the people most in need of a holiday are, in fact, those that have just returned from one.

I can only assume that said sawbones must, at some stage, have shared the back of the same bomber that I endured yesterday, and, indeed, found himself sitting next to the same revolting family, the parents of which had listed the younger of their two monstrous daughters as an ‘infant’ in order to avoid paying for four seats. They may not have paid but, brother – courtesy of 12 hours of non-stop, high-octane mithering – did the rest of the passengers. I wish the former boils.

After any long-haul flight in terrorist class all you really want is strong drink and a bit of a lie down. Trouble is, having explained to your own offspring that, though now unfashionable, circumcision is not entirely out of the question if they themselves can’t be quiet, you still have to drive home.

I mention this because, happily, as the odometer spins and the miles build, the Passat’s bi-turbo diesel is settling in nicely and becoming increasingly quiet. 237bhp is the most that Volkswagen has yet extracted from its ubiquitous four-cylinder 2.0-litre unit, and you won’t, until it’s wedded to the new Tiguan, find this powerplant anywhere else in the VW range.

On first acquaintance I was, I confess, a little distracted by what seemed a gently inordinate quantity of boom and less than mellifluous vroom as the engine went about its business; eliciting suspicions that there is, perhaps, a limit to the extent to which you can push the power delivery equation in a 2.0-litre family estate before the onset of unseemly din as a by-product of encouraging vim.

But after time, and a whiff of acclimatisation, I’m now more perturbed by how often the legendarily oleaginous DSG gearbox continues to be caught out by the gouts of torque it is expected to shackle. Particularly climbing through the lower gears, where a seriously featherlight foot is often the only way to avoid nodding the head clean off that plastic dog on the parcel shelf.

Once in the cruise, however, all settles into harmonious equilibrium and pleasingly quiet, rapid progress. And then, of course, I begin to agonise over the ride quality; couldn’t it be just a little more pliant? Clearly, I need a holiday.

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v biturbo diesel 4-cyl, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm 
Transmission 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive 
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2 
Price £36,550 
As tested £43,310 
Miles this month 1324 
Total miles 3499 
Our mpg 40.8 
Official mpg 52.3 
Fuel this month £215.75 
Extra costs £0

By Anthony ffrench-Constant


2016 VW Passat Estate long-term test

Month 2 with a VW Passat Estate: tyresome troubles

As if the Goodwood Festival of Greed pointlessly rethinking access – thus causing a two and a half hour queue to reach the car park – did not stir enough sand into the Vaseline, waking that same morning to find a shard of napped flint the size of a stone-age arrowhead embedded in the rear tyre properly took the biscuit.

Mercifully, the Passat is that rare beast: a car with a full-sized spare and a toolkit actually equipped to fit it without resort to Swarfega, Band-Aid or weapons-grade swearing. Until, that is, you cop the £178.80 bill for the replacement.

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v twin-turbo 4-cyl diesel, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm  
Gearbox 7-spd DSG, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310  
Miles this month 966  
Total 2175  
Our mpg 38.3  
Official mpg 52.3  
Fuel £146.07  
Extras £178.80

By Anthony ffrench-Constant


2016 VW Passat Estate long-term test

Month 1 with a VW Passat Estate: the introduction

With any danger of the onset of tedium negated by our somewhat truncated tenure, it’s entirely down to the quality of life on board Ford’s wholly admirable S-Max that the family hasn’t, perhaps, been quite as bowled over by the arrival of the Passat estate as expected.

Then again, Golf R excepted, when did you last share a journey with a Volkswagen and find adulatory superlatives gushing inadvertently from your every pore? Phaeton? Up? California armed with squeeze so pretty it made you want to burst out cheering?

VWs are so polished these days that it’s all too easy to simply climb in, sit down and drive with scant consideration of the years of painstaking fettling that have brought the company to a point where everything… just… works. Even if, whisper who dares, the S-Max does shade it in both the front seat comfort and ride quality stakes.

Shock, horror; the Passat hasn’t even been over-styled. Given the terrifying mass deployment of French curves throughout the globe’s automotive design studios of late, it’s refreshing to come across an estate car that just looks like a clean of line, no-nonsense, erm, estate car.

On board, life is equally crisp and uncluttered, with everything where you left it in the last VW you occupied. This equates to a first class driving position acquired via a peculiar meld of electric and manual seat manipulation, plenty of rear seat room for mithering hooligans, and an acre of optional rubber mat-clad loadspace on which the evil-smelling dog may slither and guff at will.

This £36,550 GT specification variant is well equipped, with such goodies as keyless start, three-zone air-conditioning, electric everything, sensors a-go-go and even heated windscreen washer jets fitted as standard. Oh, and something called ‘driver profile selection’ turns out not to be an asset to those ready for their close-ups but, rather, a drive mode selection system which clumps technologies such as Dynamic Chassis Control together with throttle mapping to offer you Grumpy, Lazy or Skint options.

Now, whilst I do clearly remember opting for £545 worth of Night Blue metallic paint (‘RED, dad, pleeeease, RED’) with Titan Black leather upholstery, I have a suspicion that some of the other £6215 of options fitted to this car may have been judiciously sneaked aboard by the good burghers at VW for showcasing purposes.

For instance, the perfectly wholesome 6.5in touchscreen multimedia system has been upgraded to an 8in, voice-activated offering which incorporates no less than three smartphone connectivity systems – Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto and MirrorLink, which means that on-board scuffles no longer revolve around choice of radio station, but choice of what music from which phone.

A Driver’s Assistance Pack Plus adds a second Kon-Tiki of safety features to the raft already fitted as standard, Keyless Entry is essential to Keyless Start, and should not be an option with the latter already in situ, a panoramic sunroof adds welcome daylight, and a steering wheel upgrade adds welcome flappy paddles.

Less welcome, as we swelter towards summer, is a Winter Pack featuring heated outer rear seats, and neither the missus nor I can quite rub along with a head-up display which, rather than projecting straight onto the windscreen, eases a sliver of glass like a Sea Fury gun sight slightly too prominently into view.

2016 VW Passat Estate long-term test

And one thing that certainly isn’t where I left it in A N Other VW is the driver’s instrument binnacle. This is here replaced by a 12.3in virtual display of decidedly Audi ilk, about which, being quite content with standard analogue dials hugging a central information screen, I remain gently ambivalent.

Far more pleasing is a dose of proper power under the bonnet, in the shape of a range-topping, 237bhp bi-turbo diesel delivering oomph to all four wheels via a typically oleaginous, 7-speed DSG ’box.

Though (with only 189 miles on the clock) tighter than a duck-billed platypus’s posterior on arrival, and falling the traditional 15-odd mpg short of the quoted combined average fuel consumption figure, this lusty unit is already loosening up nicely. Hushed at speed albeit, I do wonder, however, whether it will become any quieter at tickover.

Logbook: VW Passat Estate GT 2.0 Bi-TDI 4MOTION

Engine 1968cc 16v twin-turbo 4-cyl diesel, 237bhp @ 4000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic DSG, all-wheel drive  
Stats 6.3sec 0-62mph, 147mph, 140g/km CO2  
Price £36,550  
As tested £43,310  
Miles this month 1020  
Total miles 1209  
Our mpg 37.7  
Official mpg 52.3  
Fuel this month £141.28  
Extra costs £0

Read more long-term tests

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche

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