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Volkswagen Passat GTE, full front static
Volkswagen Passat GTE, front static
Volkswagen Passat GTE, front action
Volkswagen Passat GTE, side action
Volkswagen Passat GTE, rear action
Volkswagen Passat GTE, rear seats
Volkswagen Passat GTE, dash detail
Volkswagen Passat GTE, dashboard
Volkswagen Passat GTE, charging

A BIT more battery mileage for a lot less cash is the sort of deal Volkswagen hopes will dramatically boost sales of its petrol electric hybrid Passat GTE.

The latest version combines a petrol engine and electric motor and forms part of a revised Passat range where the changes concentrate on equipment upgrades rather than new looks.

The latest UK range is on average £2,300 cheaper than before and has been simplified and now offers three petrol, four diesel and the GTE petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.

The revised Passats, with modest changes to radiator grille and bumpers on the outside and fresh trim finishes and fabrics inside, now cost from £25,145 for a 1.5 TSI EVO petrol saloon, with the estate (likely to outsell the saloon by 2:1) adding £1,815 to the bill.

Likely best selling Passat, reckons VW, will be the Estate SEL 2.0-litre TDI EVO 150ps with six-speed manual gearbox and costing £30,945 and attracting a BIK rate of 29 per cent, for the vast majority of Passat buyers, who will use their car for business.

Its engine can shut down two of the four cylinders under light load to eke out a gallon of diesel at the rate of 55.4mpg and putting out 108g/km of CO2.

New across the entire range is a travel assist feature that VW says makes the Passat the first Volkswagen that can drive at up to 130mph in a partially automatic mode, so long as the driver is touching the steering wheel.

Optionally, the latest version of adaptive cruise control will let the car react to temporary speed limit signs and uses GPS data to predict approaching corners and speed limits and slow the car if necessary.

An updated lane assist function will now help guide the car between kerbs and grass verges in addition to the road markings it already relied on.

Also standard are a set of all-LED headlights or, optionally, a set of 44 LEDs that adjust themselves depending on the car's speed, steering angle and precisely where you are, taking the car's position from the satellite navigation system.

But let's concentrate on the GTE, with its mix of petrol and electric power that VW thinks will attract an impressive 25 per cent of new Passat buyers, dramatically up from the existing one in ten who favour the hybrid route.

They'll love a roughly £2,500 price cut, dropping the GTE saloon to £36,390 or £37,920 for the estate, both of which come as standard with a six-speed automatic DSG transmission and front-wheel drive.

Increased battery capacity - up 31 per cent from 9.9kWh to 13.0kWh means the newest GTE can cover 43 miles on a charge, up from 31 miles previously.

Combining the motor's 115 horsepower with the 1.4 litre petrol engine for a combined 218 horses, the latest GTE will hit 138mph and reach 62mph in 7.6 seconds (for the estate, or 7.4 for the saloon) while emitting a miserly 29-25 g/km of CO2.

Fuel consumption in the real world will depend on how often you charge your GTE's battery. The official and newly toughened official figure ranges from 166.2 to 180.8mpg depending on body style and specification - a 30 miles jog on a mixture of roads and with the car deciding when to go electric produced a deeply encouraging 112mpg.

Charging an empty GTE battery takes around five hours from a standard plug or about three and half hours with a wall box or charging station - and VW thinks many daily drivers will hardly ever need to start the petrol engine on their cars.

When they do - when needing maximum performance, for instance - they'll discover that the lowered and stiffened suspension of their car (the GT in the name is a giveaway) means the GTE rather enjoys a hustle down an interesting stretch of road.

Even with electrical power alone the GTE will touch 87mph and comfortably cruise at motorway speed, although that's a quick way to drain the battery's reserve.

Better to let this clever car make up its own mind when to switch power sources...

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