VOLKSWAGEN has taken its already impressive Passat Estate model and made it even more appealing with a simplified line-up, improved technology, upgraded engines and better connectivity.
The design is still sharp. In fact, VW somehow manages to make a vehicle with a boot capacity of up to 1,780 litres look very easy on the eye.
Despite its stretched proportions measuring more than 4.7 metres in length, the Passat Estate still looks dynamically styled thanks to the likes of body-coloured bumpers, door handles and door mirrors.
It has silver roof rails, tinted rear windows, chrome plated window surrounds, gloss black B pillars, front fog lights, LED rear lights and LED headlights with 12 separate LED daytime running lights. Special 18-inch alloys on our car added £600 to the cost.
When it comes to pricing, the Passat Estate in SEL grade, costs £32,935 although a few optional extras on this car saw that rise to £37,425.
It was powered by a punchy 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to a smooth seven-speed automatic gearbox, and it could reach from 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds, topping out at 130mph. According to official figures the model could deliver combined fuel economy of 54.9mpg under stricter WLTP testing with carbon emissions of 105g/km.
So, it would be fair to say the Passat Estate isn't exactly cheap, but then again there is nothing cheap about the interior design or quality of on-board technology.
The seats are made from Vienna leather and can be heated. There are neat decorative inserts in the dashboard, door inlays and centre console along with lots of soft touch surfaces giving the car a very classy feel.
Creature comforts include an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, DAB radio, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a navigation system with 2D or 3D display, air conditioning and a whole lot more besides.
Comfort levels are high for all occupants and, with its generous amount of legroom, there is plenty of space for three adults to sit in the back.
The boot capacity stretches from 650 litres to 1,780 litres with the rear seats dropped flat and there are lots of storage compartments on offer throughout the car, including a lockable glovebox, front and rear cup holders, a central cubby box, sunglasses holder and practical door bins. There are also pockets in the front seat backs and some handy trays.
The Passat Estate is extremely popular in the UK selling twice as many units as the saloon - it is also the top-selling model in the B-segment estate market, so you would expect the performance to be good - and it is.
It's one of those cars that you immediately feel at ease with as soon as you get behind the wheel. The acceleration through the automatic gearbox is beautifully timed and there is ample power on tap for sharp bursts of pace when needed.
Drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport alter the way the vehicle reacts and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles for extra driver engagement too.
It's a car that eats up the motorway miles for fun, but is also very comfortable on winding B roads where it is nicely balanced with excellent road holding.
VW has a well earned reputation for developing cars that feel safe and sound and the Passat Estate is another example. It is very solid in its build quality and the doors all close with a reassuring thud. Once inside, very little engine, road surface or wind noise filters through and the suspension system actually makes our UK roads feel smooth.
This new model also features VW's latest semi-autonomous driving aids. For example, the Adaptive Cruise Control is now predictive so can automatically adjust speed for permanent and temporary speed limits, as well as slowing for junctions and corners. The system is fed by GPS and road sign recognition. And the Lane Assist can now recognise grass verges and kerbs as well as road markings.
These are just a couple of the many driver aids featured on the latest car that helped it secure a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.