We’ve had the 2017 Volkswagen Passat in for review, in workhorse SE Business spec and with the 2.0 litre TDI 150 PS engine. Is VW’s workhorse a good buy?
The Volkswagen Passat has been a mainstay of VW’s range since 1973, when Ford’s comparative offering was still the Cortina and VW hadn’t even launched the Golf.
In that time the Passat has worked its way through eight iterations, with the latest coming to the UK in early 2015, suitably updated and improved to offer real competition to cars like the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and even VW’s own Skoda Superb.
And despite the world and his dog eschewing traditional three-box saloons for SUVs, the Passat continues to sell well (over a million a year) as VW taps in to the needs of business users – and some families – who value the strengths and practicalities of a traditional saloon.
With prices ranging from £21,600 to £36,785, we’ve got the ‘value’ model in the Passat range – the Passat SE Business – complete with the 2.0 litre TDI 150PS engine, which with its spec and price (£25,675) is probably the pick of the range as a workhorse.
2017 VW Passat Inside and Out
For many, the three-box saloon has become passé, and there’s nothing about the VW Passat that changes the widely held view that salons are for yesterday. But that’s rather the point.
Volkswagen aren’t trying to deliver a car which will tempt buyers out of their SUVs, but rather deliver a saloon for the still relatively significant number of buyers for whom it’s the default choice. In other words, fleet and business buyers.
The Passat not only delivers, but it does so with a design and build quality that grows on you the more time you spend with it, and makes you realise that the combination of strengths a really good saloon car has is so much wider than an SUV.
The design is simple, classic three box, with looks that neither offend nor delight, but with a real glow of quality, good lines and simplicity; there’s nothing clever or ‘tricksy’ about how the Passat looks. It simply does its job.
The inside is much the same, with an air of quality pervading, plenty of room in the back or front, seats which are on the firm side but leave you refreshed after a long drive, and enough standard kit to make you feel you’re driving something a class or more up.
That includes stuff like Keyless, Adaptive Cruise, Parking sensors, Air Con, Sat Nav, DAB and electric windows, although VW has made this Passat more appealing by digging in to the options list.
The extras here include Car-Net App-Connect with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink, Winter Pack, upgraded alloys, Driver Assistance Pack (stuff like High Beam Assist, Lane Assist, Traffic Sign recognition and more), 12.3″ Active Info Display and Area View.
They all make the Passat SE Business more appealing (and add £5,475), but the Passat SE Business is good enough without all the toys. It is a class act.
2017 VW Passat 2.0 TDI 150PS Performance
Buyers of cars like the Passat are looking for a car which performs well enough to not be a pain, is quiet and comfortable with a soothing ride and easy to drive. And the Passat delivers.
In fact, the ride is really quite remarkable, offering a ride that really is very compliant, very little noise – especially when cruising on motorways – and an ambience which really is very soothing. Which means it will be useless when you want to hustle. Doesn’t it.
Actually, no it doesn’t, and the Passat is a lot more agile and dynamic than its ride – or its role in life – would lead you to expect.
It isn’t a squidgy, roly-poly lump in bends – it’s verging on the dynamic. True, the steering isn’t overly endowed with feel, but it’s accurate and turns in very well, with accurate positioning on bends helping you hustle along at speeds you probably shouldn’t, and without upsetting passengers. There’s lots of grip even if you do get things a bit wrong, and the Passat actually flatters even if you’re clumsy.
Volkswagen has now introduced petrol options for the Passat, but here we have the mainstay of the Passat range with the 148bhp 2.0 litre diesel, and it’s an engine which shows why diesels are so popular in a market dominated by business buyers.
From inside the cabin it’s quiet and refined, it has a broad lump of torque from 1750rpm, it can get you to 62mph in 8.7 seconds and it does nearly 70mpg. Well, officially; we got a still very creditable 53.3mpg.
Just like the Passat as a whole, it’s a refined and classy workhorse, doing exactly what its owners demand without fuss and without temperament. Yes, it might be getting to the point where the pick of the engines is a petrol or hybrid, but for now this is the pick of the range for cost and refinement.
2017 VW Passat SE Business Verdict
It’s easy to dismiss the Passat as car from an age which is disappearing, but it still has a place as a company car, an upmarket taxi, a rental and even for a family with an aversion to SUV/Crossover trends. But the Passat is rather more than that.
It’s a display of VW’s ability to deliver a car perfectly suited to its target market, a car which ticks all the boxes its buyers need, and does it in a way that puts it at the top of the sector.
Yes, the Passat does cost a bit more than a comparable Mondeo or Insignia – and it’s undercut by the Superb – but live with it for a few hundred miles and you really will ‘get’ it.
The ride is soothing, despite which it is really quite dynamic, the standard spec delivers all you actually need in a car which will be mainly used for business (although, as VW has shown with this car, a few grand more does make it more appealing), there’s plenty of room in the cabin and boot, it looks classy and it does all you could ask.
Add to that residuals which make other makers in the sector green with envy (and means the lease costs are comparable despite the price premium – from under £300pm even on 20k miles pa), sensible BIK rates of 23% thanks to emissions of just 109g/km, decent performance that delivers more than enough, and economy, in the real world, in the 50s, and you have a car in the Passat perfectly judged for its target market.
2017 VW Passat SE Business Review Photo Gallery
2017 VW Passat SE Business Quick Specs
- Engine: 1968cc, 138bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 8.7 seconds / Top Speed 136mph
- Economy: 67.3mpg – Official / 53.3 mpg – Test
- Emissions: 109g/km
- Price: £25,675 – As Tested £31,150
- Test car supplied by Volkswagen UK