While sales of SUV models are soaring, there is still a significant demand for the traditional estate car from those who require larger load capacity for family or business activities. So an estate car which is also a plug-in hybrid offering exceptional fuel economy and very low emissions would have additional appeal to those in the estate car market.
The outstanding contender in this important niche sector is the Volkswagen Passat Estate, which is priced from €32,064 (£27,575) and is available with petrol, diesel and hybrid engines.
I recently tested the Passat estate in plug-in hybrid form. Fitted with a 1.4 litre petrol engine, 6-speed DSG auto gearbox and electric motor, it delivers a punchy 215 hp for eager performance, yet has remarkably low fuel economy and emissions and can run up to 56 kilometres (35 miles) on electric power only.
Top speed is 222 kph (138 mph), the 0-100 kph time is a quick 7.6 seconds and emissions are just 39 g/km. The offical combined fuel economy figure is 64 kpl (180.8 mpg) and while ideal conditions would be required to achieve that figure in real-world driving, this is still a very economical estate car.
In upper-specification GTE Advance trim it is priced at €47,512 (£40,860) and is laden with kit which includes sat-nav, infotainment system including digital radio, Bluetooth, smartphone mirroring and other connectivity features, a plug-in charging point in the front grille, rear privacy glass, LED lights and leather upholstery.
Extensive safety features include adaptive and predictive cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, lane-keep assist, city emergency braking, and driver alert warning.
Five adults have plenty of head and leg room and the bootspace of 650 litres is close to being best in class and can be expanded to an enormous 1,780 litres with the rear seats folded.
Elegant exterior styling and a classy upmarket interior make the Passat Estate feel very special and that feeling continues once you start driving. Docile in urban traffic, it is a smooth quiet motorway cruiser and the overall driving dynamics and wide range of driver aids evoke effortless ambiance.
The Passat estate has competition primarily from other German marques – Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW – but I feel the Passat comes across as the most accomplished, especially in plug-in hybrid form.
Facts At A Glance
- Model: Volkswagen Passat Estate
- Engine: 1.4 litre petrol plug-in hybrid
- Transmission: 6-speed DSG Automatic
- Performance: 0-100-kph 7.6 seconds, top speed 222 kph (138 mph)
- Economy: 64 kpl (180.8 mpg)
- Emissions: 39 g/km
Model tested is UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.