Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 SE FSI

March 2006

picture of car from the front

Handsome front end is shared with the saloon version

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 7Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Discreet and smart styling inside and out
  • General refinement and noise levels are excellent
  • Smooth ride and supportive seats provide good comfort
  • Well-equipped cabin is a pleasure to use

Gripes

  • FSI engine is economical but can feel harsh
  • Lack of genuine feel through the steering wheel
  • Expensive in comparison with some rivals
  • Composed chassis lacks enthusiasm for brisk driving

Expanding the successful Passat range is the job of the Estate model, a key choice of body type for many buyers and bringing extra practicality to a capacious vehicle. Combining the utility of an estate car with the comfort and luxury associated with the Passat, it has the potential to be a desirable package.

Creating the estate version of the Passat from the saloon led to an inevitable increase in length, with all the changes occurring behind the rear doors. The estate retains the bold front end of the saloon, with the distinctive grille and attractive headlights giving a distinctive front end. The smooth flanks and chunky tail give the Passat estate a solid appearance, boosting its quality feel from the outside.

As with the Passat saloon, the estate closes the gap to established premium cars thanks to a combination of the smart exterior styling and the attractive interior design using quality materials. It is also available with features designed to make it a capable load carrier, such as self-levelling rear suspension and load rails in the boot for securing loads. This combination of load-lugger and premium feel gives it an advantage over its rivals that tend to fall into one of the two categories.

As with the Passat saloon, the estate closes the gap to established premium cars thanks to a combination of the smart exterior styling and the attractive interior design using quality materials. It is also available with features designed to make it a capable load carrier, such as self-levelling rear suspension and load rails in the boot for securing loads. This combination of load-lugger and premium feel gives it an advantage over its rivals that tend to fall into one of the two categories.

Despite the sophisticated mechanical layout, some drivers may be disappointed with the Passat's driving experience. It has generous grip and controlled suspension, but buyers who are considering some of its rivals will find more fun behind the wheel with similar load space.

Our verdict on the Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 SE FSI

Despite the sophisticated mechanical layout, some drivers may be disappointed with the Passat's driving experience. It has generous grip and controlled suspension, but buyers who are considering some of its rivals will find more fun behind the wheel with similar load space.

Costs
Costs rating 7

For a car of this size, the Passat has respectable fuel economy, although this will be depleted slightly when carrying a full load of passengers and luggage. Modest insurance groupings are good for this size of car, and it is only the slight price premium over its rivals that puts it at a disadvantage.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

Given the car's exterior dimensions it will come as no surprise that the Passat Estate has a large amount of interior room. Leg and head room both front and rear is very generous, while the boot is long and wide. Folding the rear seats is also easy, with just two levers requiring a pull to utilise the whole load area. Practicality also benefits from plenty of storage areas throughout the cabin.

picture of car from the rear

Estate rear end blends well with the rest of the shape

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

This is another area where the Passat excels thanks to a combination of good design and materials. The control layout is simple and elegant, requiring little familiarisation. The instruments are clear and informative, while the excellent trip computer provides useful addition data on the performance of the car. One unusual feature is the electronic handbrake which, although takes a little getting used to, works well once understood.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

The high levels of comfort on offer in the Passat make it an excellent car for long journeys. Both the front and rear seats are very supportive, with a good range of adjustment for those in the front. The level of refinement is also very good, cutting down on wind, road and engine noise for a relaxed atmosphere. The suspension also does a fine job of cutting out road imperfections, making the Passat a very comfortable car to travel in.

Car security
Security Rating 7

The cartridge key instead of a conventional item on the Passat is a big boost for security, as are the protected exterior locks and alarm system, all fitted as standard.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

As a family car the Passat estate has a high standard of safety, with design elements and safety systems designed to provide maximum protection. The Passat body has been designed to provide a high level of stiffness in the event of a collision, while six airbags are standard with the option of a further two airbags in the rear. Active head restraints and standard fitment of ESP and ABS are useful additions, while the electronic parking brake can be used to perform an emergency stop.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

The biggest appeal of the Passat is the level of comfort on offer. The ride is very well controlled, providing a high degree of insulation from road imperfections. The 2.0-litre petrol engine copes well with the substantial size and weight of the estate, although it does require plenty of revs to make good progress. The gearshift is a fraction light, but the rest of the major controls are well weighted. When driven at speed the Passat copes admirably, but the lack of feel through the steering wheel and the relatively soft suspension discourages the driver from exploring the grip on offer.

picture of car interior

High quality and well designed a pleasure to use

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 9

Performing family duties is the Passat's strength, given its generous interior space and good equipment levels. It can also transport a full-sized family in high levels of comfort, which is an important factor if peace and quiet is to be maintained.

First car appeal
First car Rating 5

Given its size and status, the Passat is unlikely to be popular amongst first time buyers. It lacks the sporty appeal that many inexperienced buyers seek, and few also require the ability to carry large loads and four passengers. However, it is an easy car to drive and a medium insurance grouping would make it a viable car for more affluent buyers.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

In virtually every respect the Passat feels like a quality car, from the dignified exterior appearance to the attractive cartridge key. The build quality feels very good, and the quality of the materials used is also of a high standard. The Passat's image has long been based on this reputation for quality and a degree of luxury, and the latest version continues to carry that image.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

With four large doors and a wide tailgate, access to all areas of the Passat estate is simple. The relatively high roofline and wide footwells allow adults of all sizes to gain entry easily, while the boot space is long and wide, and the tailgate is free from awkward shapes hindering access.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The radio/CD unit fitted as standard to the Passat is simple to operate, thanks to a large display screen. The sound quality is also very good, while the optional CD autochanger is cleverly stored in a drop down tray in the glovebox.

picture of car in detail

Tailgate shape is well designed to allow easy access to the boot

Colours and trim

The black plastics and trim that make up the majority of the Passat's interior are offset by flashes of chrome effect and aluminium effect on the centre console. All the trim materials look and feel of good quality, and a leather covering on the steering wheel and gearlever add a further touch of quality.

Parking

With a near vertical rear window and good visibility all round, parking the Passat is relatively easy for a car of this size. The steering is light, and the clutch and accelerator are easy to modulate for simple manoeuvring.

Spare wheel

Full sized spare wheel is fitted beneath the boot floor

 

Range information

Seven engine options: 1.6-litre petrol (113bhp), 2.0-litre petrol (148bhp), 2.0-litre petrol turbocharged (197bhp), 3.2-litre petrol (247bhp), 1.9-litre diesel (104bhp), 2.0-litre diesel (138bhp and 168bhp). All engines are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the 1.6, 2.0 and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines are available with a six-speed automatic, and the 3.2-litre V6 petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines are available with the DSG automatic transmission. Trim levels are S, SE, Sport and SEL.

 

Alternative cars

Ford Mondeo Estate Ageing design still offers space and enjoyable driving experience

Vauxhall Vectra Estate Huge load area and improved dynamics, interior is plain

Honda Accord Tourer Smart design and refined performance

Saab 9-5 Estate Ageing underpinnings hidden by sharp styling and comfort



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March 2006