VOLKSWAGEN is preparing for the future with a series of updates to the Passat including more autonomy, revised engines and an improved plug-in hybrid.
The line up is being simplified to seven models and will feature three petrol engines and four diesels alongside the petrol-electric PHEV.
Due to arrive in September, the new range is likely to be priced from around Â£25,500 for the saloon with estates costing some Â£1,500 more - an increase over the current models but VW says the GTE PHEV will be around five per cent cheaper than before.
That could see the GTE coming in at around £36,000 and Volkswagen expects the trend for eco-friendly vehicles to see it account for almost a quarter of Passat sales in the UK compared to one-in-ten for the previous model.
Like all other versions of the latest Passat, the GTE features what VW calls Travel Assist - a semi-autonomous drive mode which amalgamates adaptive cruise control and lane departure controls to allow the car to drive itself.
Apparently it can work at speeds of up to 130mph and the system has been enhanced with the introduction of a capacitive steering wheel which requires the driver just to touch it rather than move the wheel.
The lane assist function has also been improved to recognise kerbs and grass verges as well as road markings making the set up much more user-friendly.
We have just sampled the new Passat GTE in Alltrack estate body style and it is an impressive piece of kit.
With a battery pack increased in capacity by 31 per cent it now has a zero emission range of up to 34 miles on a full charge - and that is ahead of the game for most current plug-ins.
It uses a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine mated to its electric powertrain which in total produce 218ps.
Performance data is still to be released but it can be brisk off the mark - especially in its GTE sports setting which is one of five drive modes available.
Others are pure EV, a hybrid setting, one linked to the navigation system to optimise use and a B mode for maximum regeneration.
On our run through the German countryside we managed to complete more than 70 per cent of the journey without producing any emissions such is the effectiveness of the hybrid set up.
Equally impressive was the GTE's energy performance and on our run of some 20 miles the displayed available electric only range fell by just over one mile to some 25 miles.
Overall the fuel consumption shown on the trip computer was 50 to the gallon - not bad at all from a 1.4-litre.
The latest Passat is a facelift of the model launched some four years ago and comes with crisper lines, new look lamp clusters, bumpers and grille and the option of LED matrix headlamps.
There's also another change at the rear with the Passat name spelled out in capitals across the tailgate.
Other differences are on the inside with the new car featuring VW's digital cockpit, a Passat nameplate replacing the analogue clock in the middle of the dash and revisions to the central display screen and switchgear.
All in all it is much smarter and keeps the Passat right up to date. There's also additional connectivity features incorporating online services and integrating apps into the operating system.
In the UK it is VW's fifth best seller clocking up some 12,500 sales last year - 7,500 of which were estates.