Volkswagen’s Passat has been a mainstay of the line-up for 50 years, and will be for a little longer even amidst the company’s major pushes towards electrification. There’s a notable change of tack with this new ninth-generation version, though - it’s available only as an estate, or in VW speak, a ‘Variant’.
Given that the last all-new wagon launched by VW was the striking Arteon Shooting Brake - which will be culled from the range fairly soon - some might find the looks of the new Passat a touch disappointing. It owes a lot to the Golf in its front-end design, and the rest is all quite sensible.
But then, this is supposed to be a pragmatic offering that prioritises space above pretty much everything else. As in, 690 litres, if we’re talking about the boot. That’s a huge volume that eclipses even what’s offered by the leading load-luggers of the Volkswagen Group, the Skoda Octavia and Superb estates.
Fold the rear bench flat, and you’ll have 1,920 litres to play with. And with it up, those in the back should have plenty of legroom, as the wheelbase of the Passat is 50mm longer than before.
Inside is the ‘MIB4’ infotainment system lifted from the ID.7, and yes, that does mean a lack of physical climate controls. Boo. Still, from hands-on experience with the unit, we do know it’s way better than the older setup used by various VWs including the Golf. There are also fancy ‘ergoActive Plus’ seats, which feature 10 pneumatic pressure chambers for maximum massage comfort. Lovely.
The engine line-up provides a decent amount of choice, kicking off with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol putting out a useful 148bhp. Those wanting more poke can pick between two 2.0-litre petrol lumps, one making 201bhp and the other a reasonably potent-sounding 262bhp, but it’s not billed a performance model, before you get too excited.
There is still diesel power offered, via a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit coming in three states of tune - 121bhp, 148bhp or 190bhp. Finally, there’s a plug-in hybrid mixing that 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 19.7kWh battery pack and an electric motor. It’s available in two forms, one making 201bhp, and the other 268bhp. You get up to 62 miles of electric-only running, and unusually for a PHEV, 50kW fast-charging capability.
We don’t know which of these will be making it to the UK, nor how much the new Passat will cost. Expect those details to emerge closer to the car’s 2024 Q1 launch.