Volkswagen Passat

GTE Advance 1.4 TSI

Volkswagen Passat GTE, front
Volkswagen Passat GTE, front
Volkswagen Passat GTE, front
Volkswagen Passat GTE, side
Volkswagen Passat GTE, side
Volkswagen Passat GTE, recharging
Volkswagen Passat GTE, rear
Volkswagen Passat GTE, rear
Volkswagen Passat GTE, interior

THE Passat, like the Golf and Polo, and yes, the Beetle, has been around a long time.

Today's car, as you would expect, is light years away from Volkswagen's 1970s hatchback original.

Favoured by many as a company car, its high end top notch finish and high level of standard kit sits it more in the executive range with quality to compete with stablemate Audi.

To reflect its heavy business sector sales, the engine range has been 100 per cent diesel, but that has now changed with this plug-in hybrid.

A car which offers huge range, claimed at 664 miles, ultra low emissions, and a hefty price tag, even with the Government, £2,500 electric car subsidy it is still a shade over £38,000. There is a slightly cheaper variant at just over £37,000.

It is a good looking car and with the colour blue often now representing going green, this model is recognisable with blue trim and ambient lighting plus subtle tinted GTE badging.

Even the brake calipers are blue, I suppose to represent the energy gathering from the braking system. Also built into the bumper are C-shaped LED running lights while the grille also conceals the electric charging point for the battery.

Charging takes around 4.5 hours via a standard home electrical point or around 2.5 hours with a dedicated wall charger.

The plug-in is a kind of halfway house towards full electric vehicles, but it does offers plenty of performance and with the combination of the 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine mated to the 114bhp motor driven by the battery and the six-speed DSG automatic gearbox, it means worries about running out of power do not come into play.

There are three selectable drive modes, although the car runs initially on full electric with the 9.9kw battery supplying power for a range of around 30 miles at up to 81mph. At that point the petrol engine kicks in.

VW says that most daily commutes are around 31 miles so people theoretically can get to work on back on electric power only.

My commute is 30 miles and the battery ran out just about two miles from final destination, so theoretically you can run on electric only with the petrol tank sipping the fuel.Economy is claimed at whopping 155.9mpg.

In the real world, drivers are more likely to use the hybrid mode which combines the two power units. This still provides diesel like economy, but emissions are kept to a minimum, thus pleasing those with subject to benefit in kind taxation.

The figure however could be anything you like if you can keep it on electric power only, the extra cost coming from charging bills.

The interior definitely has that executive feel with high quality soft touch materials robust switchgear, and a neat analogue clock and that blue ambient lighting.

Dominated by a large central touchscreen which controls major functions, this tested model also features the digital cockpit, a screen within the binnacle which show different dial layouts for power consumption, mpg, speed and a permanent, if you wish, sat nav map.

Very similar to the Audi virtual cockpit, it is real high end stuff, adding to the upmarket feel and the raft of standard equipment on this car.

Economical the car may be but it can also offer pretty rapid performance. Switch to GT mode and the petrol engine is always engaged delivering that extra grunt and allowing the car to hit 60mph in 7.4 seconds.

On the road, the car performs pretty much as its diesel siblings with sharp handling and a settled ride. It loses nothing on practicality either, with the battery stowed under the rear seats, leaving boot space the same as diesel versions.

A big saloon, five can be seated in comfort with good head and legroom, while the boot remains huge.

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen Passat GTE Advance 1.4 TSI

Price: £38,170

Mechanical: 215bhp 1,398cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 140mph

0-62mph: 7.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 155.9

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions: 40g/km

Bik rating: 7%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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