Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Beautifully constructed cabin
  • Striking interior design
  • Plenty of in-car tech included

VW Passat Estate 2019 SEL driving position

Most Volkswagens have plush, nicely designed interiors, but the Passat ups the quality, making it a particularly pleasant car to spend time in. The cabin feels like it will last the test of time, but more importantly is beautifully built, with a smattering of soft-touch materials and high quality upholstery making it feel a notch above most of its rivals.

If you simply want an upmarket estate for the practicality and feel-good interior, there really is no need to spend more on a Mercedes here. In fact, the Passat's interior is notably higher quality than that of the Mercedes C-Class Estate.

It’s a smart-looking interior that isn’t too fussy in design. The locations of the controls are easy to get used to and our biggest complaint only extends to a few of the driver controls situated on the far side of the gearlever, as accessing them can be hampered depending on what gear you’re in.

The sound quality on the standard stereo is nice and clear, which is great if you mainly listen to talk radio stations, but the Dynaudio sound pack may be a tempting optional extra for those who’d like a bit more punch with their music.

It's not a specific problem for the Passat, but the standard system struggled with playing music from our phone, with the sound becoming distorted at higher volume.

From mid-2019 all Passat Estates come with integrated sim cards for the media system, allowing you to stream online radio and make the most of natural voice controls. This means you can issue voice instructions covering sat-nav, phone and radio settings by saying, 'Hello Volkswagen', and even dictate text messages, while the car can read out received texts to you.

Three media systems available - with and without sat-nav

The entry-level Composition Media comes with a 6.5-inch screen and without sat-nav, then there’s the mid-range 8.0-inch nav-equipped Discover Media system and a 9.2-inch Discover Pro version complete with sat-nav.

You get Apple Carplay and Android Auto included, but oddly enough, the lower-spec models with the rotary controls for the volume and settings are easier to use, rather than the smarter-looking touch sensitive ones.

The standard dials for the driver are clear and easy to read, with a trip computer located in the centre, but to help make the most of the latest media systems are new digital dials fitted on higher-spec models.

As with the infotainment system, this has been redesigned to make it simpler to use for 2019 models. The 10.25-inch wide screen replaces the physical speedometer and rev counter, and can show three different displays: firstly a traditional analogue speedometer and rev counter, with configurable displays between them.

Secondly, these analogue gauges are replaced with configurable information fields, with the third option displaying the sat-nav map across the whole width of the display with speed and other driving figures shown at the bottom of the screen.

Comfort

  • Very smooth ride on smaller wheels
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Impressive refinement levels

VW Passat Estate 2019 R Line seats 2019

So, on to the Passat Estate’s real party trick. It’s most certainly one of the most comfortable cars in its class, and there are few prestige cars we’d rather pick for covering hundreds of miles. Basically, Volkswagen Passat Estate comfort levels are exemplary.

All models come with comfortable seats, but the ‘ergo Comfort’ ones for the driver in our test cars were notably supportive. When it comes to adjustment, not all models come with fully-electric controls – you still have to slide the seat and adjust the height manually on lower spec models – but the additional sections that can be tweaked should mean that all different sizes of driver can easily get comfortable here.

It does feel like you’re perched quite high up though – almost like you’re in a smaller hatchback - and while some owners will enjoy the slightly raised view out, you don’t feel as cocooned as you would in, say, a Ford Mondeo.

Those sat in the rear have their own vents, while high-spec models come with their climate control setting and heated seats. Head- and legroom is generous, even if there isn't much space for feet beneath the front seats.

Strong in-car refinement

Also impressive is the refinement level in the cabin. Rivals are beginning to catch up now, but road and wind noise is kept quiet enough to be comfortable up to motorway speeds.

Naturally, this estate is louder in the cabin than the saloon variant due to the larger area of interior space for sound to echo around in, but the cabin insulation still betters most rivals.

Most engines are quiet and smooth, too, though the diesels can occasionally prove to be a little gruff. Overall though, the Passat is an impressively relaxing car to drive. The GTE, in particular, remains quiet all the time, whether in electric mode or when driving under the petrol engine.

Comfortable ride with standard suspension

One of the biggest contributors to the Passat’s level of comfort is down to its suspension setup. While it’s not the softest-riding estate on the market, it absorbs bumps well and avoids transmitting any uncomfortable thumps into the cabin.

The ride is a little firm but only enough to prevent it from wallowing and pitching as much as a Skoda Superb; it never gets uncomfortable. Specifying the Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive suspension (standard on the 240hp diesel, optional otherwise) means you’re given the choice of how comfortable you’d like the car.

In Comfort mode it’s deeply impressive, while Sport sharpens up the handling and keeps the body better in check at the detriment of ride quality - which can become fidgety.

Models with the standard suspension and smaller wheels, however, are impressively comfortable, so there's no need to spend more on Dynamic Chassis Control with these in regard to maximising comfort. We'd avoid fitting the largest alloy wheels to the Passat Estate, though, as reducing the amount of rubber between you and the road makes the car's ride less settled, especially over rough roads.

VW Passat Estate 2019 R Line Edition wheel 2019