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2020 Volkswagen Passat GTE Saloon Review

We test the updated Passat GTE on Irish roads

We test the updated Passat GTE on Irish roads

Review

Pros: Quality, performance, refinement, comfort

Cons: GTE badge promises something it is not

Volkswagen gave its evergreen Passat model a midlife facelift in 2019 and the updates extended to the GTE version. That’s the plug-in hybrid option in the line-up, though, as the badge suggests, it’s designed to be a sporty take on the idea, rather than one dedicated to ultra-low fuel consumption. Nonetheless, the GTE’s electrical system has been upgraded, so it’s more efficient than ever, while the rest of the car’s technology has also been usefully revamped.

Volkswagen Passat Design

We reckon that the Passat’s shape has matured well and though it’s not an exciting design, it is quite handsome. All models now get big proud ‘PASSAT’ letter across the boot, while the GTE version gets its own design of front bumper that helps it stand out a little more. It complements the new high-tech headlights and slightly restyled grille.

Passat GTE

Volkswagen Passat Interior

The interior of the updated Passat is well worth a mention, as it ups the technology quotient considerably. A crisply rendered set of digital instruments sits behind a tactile new leather-wrapped steering wheel for a start, and the view is customisable as well. Meanwhile, the stylish-looking large touchscreen in the middle allows access to significantly more connectivity functions than before, as the car is permanently connected to the internet via the built-in SIM card. Elsewhere, the GTE model gets lush leather upholstered seating and three-zone climate control.

Volkswagen Passat Electric

Volkswagen Passat Performance & Drive

In terms of straight-line performance, the Passat GTE lives up to its badge. The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine under the bonnet is feisty enough on its own (and notably quiet and refined, too), but when the electric motor joins forces with it for maximum acceleration (you can press the ‘GTE’ button to optimise performance) it puts out a useful 218hp. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is a sports saloon, as the suspension is set up for comfort, not spirited cornering.

On the electric side of things, the updated GTE’s battery gets a 31 per cent capacity increase, which translates into an official 56 kilometres on battery power alone. Few will achieve that in reality, and, for maximum efficiency, you need to charge it up from an external source as often as you can.

Volkswagen Charging

Volkswagen Passat Pricing

The regular Passat costs from €34,895 at the time of writing, so the GTE’s starting price of €43,295 indicates where it sits in the range. That includes the VRT rebate and SEAI grant for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, but it still places the GTE above the rest of the line-up, so it may only suit those that were considering a top-spec Passat in the first place. It is well-equipped for the price, in fairness.

Carzone Verdict 4/5

Like all plug-in hybrids, the Passat GTE is only economical if you plug it in to charge up the battery regularly, which means it’s best-suited to an urban life. And some will see the price as a barrier when regular versions of the Passat are so much less expensive to buy. Nonetheless, this is a very likeable car. It’s of high quality, it’s quick, quiet and really comfortable to spend a lot of time in.

Test Car Details:  

Model driven: Volkswagen Passat GTE

Price: €43,295 before options but including grants

Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol (with electric motor)

Transmission: automatic

Annual motor tax: €170

0-100km/h: 7.4 seconds

Power: 218hp

Boot space: 402 litres