VOLKSWAGEN has treasure in its 46-year old Passat name, now brightly polished into a gleaming eighth edition.
From its launch in 1973 it is now the VW with the longest-lived name-plate after the Beetle went out of production this year and it even predates the Golf name by a year.
With over 30 million sold worldwide in 46 years, the Passat is the best-selling mid-size car in the world after seven versions have been launched.
The enhanced eighth generation now reaching showrooms delivers the latest technology in another version of the VW MQB platform with updated but familiar engines and gearboxes.
The latest version of this spacious vehicle is offered in SE, SE Nav, SEL, and R-Line trims from launch and a limited estate-only R-Line Edition will also be available alongside Alltrack, GTE and GTE Advance.
Prices have risen by up to Â£1,500 model for model but the plug-in GTE is actually Â£2,300 less than the version it's replaced.
Prices for the Passat start at £25,370 for the 1.6-litre TDI 120ps seven-speed DSG saloon rising to £45,210 for the R Line Edition with 2.0TDI 240ps engine and seven-speed DSG 4Motion powertrain in an estate body. There are six saloons and eleven estates in all.
It's also the first Volkswagen fitted with Travel Assist, a system that allows the car to be driven at up to 130 mph where legal in a partially automated mode.
It combines the latest version of VW's adaptive cruise control system which can now automatially adjust the speed including temporary speed-limits as well as slowing for junctions and corners fed by information from road sign recognition and GPS.
This is combined with an updated lane assist set up which can now recognise kerbs and grass verges as well as road markings and this new driver-assistance technology will be standard across the Passat range which is the most technically advanced model ever sold by Volkswagen.
The Travel Assist pacakge is standard, along with LED headlights and Wi-Fi for instant communications as parts of the very sophisticated features in the new range.
The popular Passat GTE returns with an increased 34-mile electric range in the hybrid while the Passat Alltrack heavy duty estate is updated and comes with raised suspension, underbody and wheel arch protection.
Two petrol engines are available at launch, a 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder available with 190ps or 272ps.
Both come with a seven-speed DSG transmission, while the 272ps version is equipped with 4MOTION all-wheel drive.
Later this year will see the arrival of a 1.5-litre TSI EVO four-cylinder power plant with active cylinder shutdown which can briefly turn off two of the four cylinders under certain low-load conditions in order to save fuel. All petrol engines in Passat will be fitted with particulate filters.
At launch three four-cylinder diesels will be available, 1.6-litre TDI with 120ps and a 2.0-litre TDI with 190ps or 240ps outputs.
All three engines will only be available with a seven-speed DSG gearboxes. While the 190ps engine will optionally be available with 4MOTION all-wheel-drive, it will be fitted to the 240ps engine as standard.
The battle for diesel sales is still raging among high mileage company users and a new extensively reworked 2.0-litre TDI EVO with 150ps, will be available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox and will be the first Volkswagen-brand diesel engine to have cylinder deactivation.
Volkswagen in the UK anticipates 78 per cent of new Passat registrations will be among fleet users with the estate outselling the saloon by two to one. The most popular trim is expected to be SEL with about 47per cent of sales being diesel, 28 per cent petrol and 25 per cent hybrids.
Giving more for more seems an unusual tactic but in the competitive world of fleet sales where the Passat Estate in particular will be competing with rivals from Audi, BMW and Volvo, the concept will go down well among the corporate bean counters.
With more automation, better connectivity and stress-relieving bright headlights as standard the burden of going out to work will seem lighter.
I opted to try the 190ps SEL Estate and it is easy to live with thanks to good access throughout, very comfortable seats and a reasonably compliant if firm ride.
You could hear the suspension working away with the 18-inch wheels and tyres but rarely did they jar the interior.
The car was fitted with the optional £900 extra variable suspension, tyre pressure monitoring and powered tailgate as well as rear view camera.
The larger wheels meant it picked up more impacts, but the adjustable suspension softened their effect in its comfort mode.
The handling was surefooted and there was little body roll or pitching, the steering was light, brakes progressive and the DSG changes were smooth, even whenpushed hard.
I think roominess is the main attraction whether in the front or rear seats, and the versatility and capacity of the estate are its strong points.