AS a motoring journalist in the early 1970s I enjoyed a constant stream of new cars to drive, but one especially impressed with its sound construction and common sense way of going about things.
It was the Volkswagen Passat and now many years later I have driven yet another Passat - one of the eighth generation, and one which I rate as one of the most clever cars on the road.
It is the Passat GTE, a plug-in hybrid which firmly points the way ahead in terms of modern motoring.
Definitely not cheap at more than £40,000 it offers the best of electric only power, a petrol engine and self or plug in charging.
It can be driven up to 31 miles on electric power alone, with its motor being linked to a 1.4 TSI turbocharged petrol engine.
The petrol engine delivers 156ps and the electric motor a further 115ps. One of the real plus point of this model is the robust torque of the electric motor with 330 Nm on tap.
The electric motor forms a compact unit with the petrol engine and a six-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
This transmission features a third disengagement clutch which decouples the TSI motor whenever possible to allow the vehicle to make best use of kinetic energy and hence, increases efficiency.
This car has dual appeal both to the business user and private buyer featuring a premium finish and appointments.
It offers a very long range which maxes out at 664 miles, plus ultra low emissions.
And it seems to run on very little fuel. VW claim a combined figure of 156.9mpg which will bring a smile to the face of any high mileage driver.
The GTE may be thrifty, but it is surprisingly sporty with a top speed of 140mph plus a 0-62mph sprint of 7.4 seconds.
Charging takes around 4.5 hours via a standard home electrical point or around 2.5 hours with a dedicated wall charger.
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.
If you live under 30 miles from work, it is possible to get there on electric power only but in everyday, all-purpose driving the vehicle will be making best use of its hybrid capabilities.
VW always manages to impart a classy feel to its cars and the Passat GTE is no exception with high quality trim and even a neat analogue clock.
But in a more modern vein, everything is dominated by a central touchscreen which controls major functions.
His model answered one of my concerns over plug in hybrids. If the car is driven in mainly electric mode will the petrol engine deteriorate through lack of use?
In this case the answer is no because of special polymer coatings within the engine. The engine is also turned occasionally automatically to maintain the bearing oil film.