Road Test: Passat SEL 2.0-litre TDI EVO SCR 150hp
Latest updates to the revised range ensure the Passat keeps its fleet-focused promise, writes Jonathan Musk.
SECTOR D-segment PRICE £31,100 FUEL 56.8mpg CO2 130g/km
Revisions to the Passat have successfully kept the car looking fresh in a fast-changing market. Complete with plug-in hybrid options and frugal petrol and diesel engines, it is no wonder the Passat accrued around 85% of its sales from fleets last year, and is expected to account for 78% this year following its refresh.
This particular version sports the 2.0-litre TDI EVO SCR producing 150hp – TDI because it’s Volkswagen’s latest iteration of its fine-tuned turbo diesel; EVO because it can deactivate cylinders to save fuel; and SCR because it has a diesel particulate filter. 150hp is ample for most and is the expected best-seller, with 0-62mph in just under 9 seconds. However, more potent diesels are available at up to 240hp, while petrols range from 150-272hp, should you feel the need. A couple of GTE plug-in hybrid options are also available, and expected to account for 25% of Passat sales. This was the prediction prior to the government’s BiK revisions, however, so they now offer added appeal over the venerable diesel.
Fuel economy is rated 56.8mpg (combined, WLTP) for this car, which is perfectly acceptable for a large non-electrified car. In practice, far better can be attained thanks to the slick manual six-speed gearbox option, although our seven-speed DSG was a touch more difficult to meet expectations.Nonetheless, paper figures don’t necessarily correlate directly to actual fuel costs and you should find you get better than expected results with ease.
Thanks to all those acronyms bolted to the end of the engine spec, the car produces 130g/km CO2. Its tax band is 33%, while the P11D price is £31,100. However, there’s a slight sting in the tail with the pricing, as options quickly mount up with even tyre pressure monitors costing £150. Frankly, in an age where a smartphone [read: powerful personal mobile computer and camera] can be had for less than £100, it seems a bit steep. Other options worth having also bump the price up considerably, including Volkswagen’s smart Discover Navigation Pro, which comes with a 9.2-inch screen, sat nav, voice controls and an additional 10.25-inch drivers’ instrument display. It costs an eye-watering £2,200, which is comparable to Apple’s most expensive stock 27-inch iMac featuring a 5k “Retina” display. Just saying. To be fair, the Passat does come with a perfectly adequate 8.0-inch infotainment screen, although the driver has to make do with old-style analogue instruments, as standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard fitment. Nonetheless, despite the nature of options pricing, the standard car without any extras is hardly lacking. However, now that the digital instruments are standard-fit in the new Mk8 Golf, the above pricing is made all the more difficult to swallow.
The car is a refined and practical cruiser though, perfectly adept at long motorway jaunts or creeping forward in slow-moving traffic. This is aided by standard features such as auto-hold brakes and adaptive cruise control with auto-speed adjustment (that uses both road sign detection and GPS to automatically adjust the car’s set cruise speed). Plus, there’s the reassurance of a millennia of safety technologies: Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and parking sensors front and rear. Given that it is a long car though, it is a little meagre not to include a rear-view camera as standard equipment (a £345 option) or Park Assist which costs a further £215.
The interior is cavernous and comfortable for all passengers, which is the main reason for choosing a car of this ilk, and so the Passat doesn’t disappoint here. The rear windows are also tinted, adding a touch of class and security too. There isn’t, however, anything particularly clever about the interior in terms of storage and essentially the only option is to fold the rear backrests flat to improve upon the default 586 litres of storage.
All in all, Volkswagen has sensibly made subtle changes to an already successful and established fleet favourite and there’s little to criticise other than dubious options pricing. Our SEL model had everything anyone could want, although with options ticked this raised the ticket price to above £37k. The saloon variant of this car doesn’t sell as well as the more practical Estate model, but it still provides the same key features that fleets have come to expect and love.
Competition is fierce, however, with much coming from within the Volkswagen’s own ranks; to name one, the Škoda Superb, which shares the same platform.
The Passat diesel is still the de facto estate car for fleets and the latest revisions only add to its appeal. New engine technology certainly helps and successfully garners more bang for buck. Likewise, SEL trim hits the sweet spot, although desirable (and should-be-standard) options quickly mount up. However, following the recent BiK shake-up, the GTE plug-in hybrid and Estate options may prove more alluring.
Key Fleet Model: Volkswagen Passat GTE
Strengths: Solid design, refined driving experience, good economy
Weaknesses: Tax, options are pricey
FW Star Rating: 4/5