Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion TDI 1.6 Estate

Volkswagen Passat Estate lr
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By Tim Saunders

We live in a materialistic world.
This fact becomes blatantly clear when I park the sleek Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion estate on the busy main road outside my house. The previous day I had done this with my own ageing mark 5 Ford Fiesta and had very quickly proceeded to be bibbed and tooted by a series of impatient motorists fed up with queuing to get passed me. Yet not a soul does this with the Passat, which is parked there at a much busier time of day for considerably longer. Now aside from this being an interesting study in human behaviour the large VW plays a vitally important role in my family’s move from our Victorian mid-terrace to a more family friendly detached property in a quieter location. Without doubt parking the VW outside our house increases the street’s credibility and there is no qualm about doing this because there are power folding wing mirrors so they cannot be knocked by frustrated drivers.
When I was growing up Passats were dull and boring cars, boxy and angular, certainly not trendsetters. How times change. In fact estates by nature are far less appealing than their saloon counterparts. And so I am surprised and really taken aback by how striking this estate car is. To look at it seems quite low to the ground and in fact from all angles it positively exudes character and quality yet still retaining the traditional chunky angular VW look. The gunmetal grey finish further emphasises its credentials. The doors shut with a satisfying ‘thunk’.
By day it will transport five passengers in comfort – and those seats are particularly supportive. They’re not leather and I like that because the hardwearing cloth finish does not make you sweat in the heat and is overall more comfortable in my opinion. If serious load carrying is required then it rises to the challenge with ease. It is really easy to push down the rear seats as you can see in the various videos above. Doing so reveals a truly cavernous boot, large enough to transport some sizeable pieces of furniture including a wooden chest and bureau. It surprisingly even swallows a 6ft flat-packed wardrobe with ease and makes light work of many loads. Yet the diesel engine is so eager and responsive regardless of the weight it is carrying. Push your foot to the floor and there is a real surge of power so much so that it feels like this car could just go on and on. It feels more of a sports car than an estate; throw it round bends and it performs admirably with very little roll whatsoever. Yet it is also fairly frugal helped by the auto stop/start. However, this function can become rather irritating because there is a delay and this could be problematic when pulling out onto a busy roundabout, for instance. The model tested is an automatic that can also be driven as a manual thanks to its clever gearbox but also racing car style paddle shifts either side of the steering wheel. There’s a state of the art cruise control that’s simple to use and also automatically brakes or accelerates depending on what the traffic ahead is doing. This car really does not feel like a family estate and neither does it look like one. It’s definitely one of my favourites.
There is a good driving position and the driver’s seat is easy to adjust to achieve this. It is loaded with goodies including a helpful reversing camera, particularly so because our new house has a brick pillar on the left and then a slight downward slope towards the house and so the camera provides added peace of mind that the pillar will indeed remain following this manoeuvre. The issue I have is the electric handbrake. Park on a slope like the one on my new driveway and despite the Auto Hold function it still rolls on start up, which means that I have to be quick with the accelerator to prevent hitting the house.
While I unload, my daughter Heidi (3) enjoys playing in the boot and quickly discovers a switch that she just has to pull and at the same time the tow bar appears from underneath the vehicle; a very neat touch. Oh and then at night-time there’s a light underneath each wing mirror providing guidance when leaving the vehicle. Push the ignition at night and you’ll see the headlights automatically adjusting. Leave the Passat at night and the digital dashboard stays on, which I feel a little unsure about, wondering whether I should push another button on the keyfob. But it must shutdown after a time because it is not on the following morning and the battery is not flat. The Passat is certainly anything but dull these days and is one of the most high-tech vehicles on the road.

Facts at a glance
Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion TDI 1.6 120 PS 6 Speed Man
Price: £24,995
0-60mph: 10.8secs
Top speed: 130mph
Economy: Between 26 and 50mpg depending on driving style
Power: 120bhp

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