THERE is a car bought by 30 million customers worldwide over an incredible 46 year production run that is still going strong, with the latest version launched this summer.

The Passat is an amazing success story for Volkswagen and with the latest Mk 8.5 version they look set to continue that incredible automotive journey for many years to come.

The Passat first appeared on our roads in 1973 and was a hit from the start. Now with new tech features and software, upgraded equipment, a new engine in the range and a hybrid version there are even more reasons to consider the popular motor.

In fact a big slice of Passat sales are of estate versions, in the UK twice as many estates have been sold than saloons and it is Europe’s best selling load lugger. VW also expect that the new plug in hybrid, the GTE, will make up a quarter of total worldwide sales. It has an electric only range of up to 43 miles which can be saved for use around town when on longer trips.

Yours truly was invited to the UK launch day in the sunny Cotswolds where the assembled motoring hacks got to try different versions of the new Passat, as well as an incredibly well preserved 1985 Mk II 5-cylinder model which really was like going back in time when you got behind the wheel.

VW also brought along a selection of their other models including the ground-breaking, but soon to be phased out, E-Golf their impressive big Touareg SUV and its smaller siblings the T-Cross and T-Roc.

After my trip to the past in the beautifully preserved 31 years old Passat I got to try out three versions of the latest model, the 2-litre petrol, 2-litre turbo diesel and that new GTE plug in hybrid.

Even though it only has a 1.4 petrol engine the hybrid has the most power thanks to that electric motor, which boosts bhp to over 215. That means lively performance when both power plants are in play yet over 200mpg is achievable, say Volkswagen, if the electric motor is used correctly.

The petrol and diesel variants have the same power output of a shade over 185bhp and in reality all three drive in a very similar, well behaved fashion. MPG figures here are up to 41 for the petrol engine and a shade under 50 for the diesel, which can run on just two cylinders under light load.

Price wise there is not a lot of difference either as the hybrid is £35,700, the petrol £33,985 and the diesel £37,956. VW expect the latter to be its best seller in the UK.

Where customers will notice the difference from the outgoing model is on the tech and toys front. The Sat nav now uses highly realistic Google maps to populate the Audi-style system which can display through the central touchscreen and instrument binnacle.

Also the adaptive cruise control has got smarter as has the lane assist feature and the wireless link to your smart phone now means there is no need to plug in to do more than just charge it up as apps are also available wirelessly.

Multiple drive modes range from eco to sport and you can also set things up to your own driving style with an ‘individual’ setting.

VW say customers now see the Passat as a value for money alternative to premium segment players like Audi, Mercedes and BMW.

Certainly in terms of build quality, performance, equipment levels and reliability that is true – although badge snobbery means many may still prefer those other German marques, which is a pity as the Passat has evolved over those 46 years into a great all-rounder, especially in estate form where it has become the benchmark by which other car makers set their standards.

More information at

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth