THE Passat is now rapidly approaching its 50th birthday and, with well over 30 million sold worldwide, is one of Volkswagen's biggest success stories.
A fair chunk of those sales, especially in the UK, have been estates, which have become a firm favourite with business buyers and families alike thanks to the generous space and practicality on offer.
Coupled with a wide range of efficient engines, including a plug-in hybrid, and some impressive high-tech kit on board, this makes the current Passat wagon a tempting alternative for anyone able to resist the current craze for SUVs.
Our car was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel unit, kicking out 190ps, which was mated to the smooth and unintrusive seven-speed automatic gearbox that is standard across most of the range.
This combination offers a good balance of performance and efficiency, able to shift this large motor from 0-62mph in a snap over eight seconds and on to a top speed of 144mph while average fuel economy is a claimed 47.7 miles per gallon.
Needless to say, it eats up motorway miles effortlessly but driving around town and on winding B roads is also a pleasant, if not quite sporty, experience.
Steering is light and accurate when pootling about and weights up nicely at speed while the Passat handles well for an estate, staying flat through corners with body roll contained to acceptable levels when there is any.
The 2.0-litre power pack also offered plenty of low end pull, hitting maximum torque of 400Nm at 1,900rpm and maintaining it right up to 3,250 rpm, ensuring that there is some punch when needed even with all the family and a decent load on board.
Our car also benefited from the optional dynamic chassis control (£895) which adapts the suspension as you drive to maintain decent ride comfort even over less than perfect road surfaces. It also adds a selectable drive mode with comfort, normal and sport settings.
With eight trim grades and prices starting from £27,575, there is a Passat estate to suit most tastes and budgets - including the more ruggedly styled Alltrack with its increased ride height and chunky body kit.
All versions come well-equipped, with entry level cars getting alloy wheels, LED headlights, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, aircon, automatic emergency braking and automatic lights and wipers.
Volkswagen's new travel assist feature is also standard across the range and combines advanced adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist technology to enable the car to be driven semi-autonomously at up to 130mph - although I don't think I'd have the nerve to test that.
Stepping up to SEL spec adds niceties such as navigation, heated front seats, leather upholstery, gear shift paddles on the steering wheel and a voice activation function.
Of course, space and practicality are key considerations for estate car buyers and the Passat fares well in this department with good head and leg room all round.
Four adults will travel in complete comfort but a prominent transmission tunnel and centre console mean that the rear middle seat is probably only good for short haul trips for the grown-ups - three kids should be fine on longer jaunts though.
There's also some decent personal storage provision while, at 650 litres, the boot is only eclipsed in this class by that of VW Group relative, the Skoda Superb.
Capacity rises to a whopping 1,780 litres with the 40/20/40 split rear seat backs folded down, which can be done via a quick-release lever in the boot, and an adjustable and removable floor adds to the versatility of the loadspace.