Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE review: The best hybrid estate?

The Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE is the epitome of a ‘grown-up’ sporty hatchback. It has a practical, stylish design and has lower tailpipe emissions over its petrol counterpart – the Estate GTE claims to run for 33 miles on pure electric power before it needs to resort to its 1.4-litre engine.

That’s not all, however, as with the addition of an electric motor, the Estate GTE is also 50 kW (67 hp) more powerful than its sibling; helping it shave a few seconds when you’re trying to make a quick getaway at the traffic lights.

You can also watch the review of the Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE on our YouTube channel.

VW Passat Estate GTE price & competition

Volkswagen’s entry-level Estate GTE starts from £39,440, with the top-spec GTE Advance – on review – starting from £42,130. The latter trim adds the following:

  • 18″ ‘Monterrey’ 235/45 R18 low rolling resistance tyres
  • Matrix headlights
  • The Navigation Pro infotainment system adds gesture controls, voice activation and 3D map view
  • An ‘Easy Open’ electric tailgate
  • Keyless entry including a Start/Stop button
  • A 10.25″ TFT dash display

Unsurprisingly, the hybrid models are dearer than their pure gasoline alternatives. The Passat Estate SE Nav starts from £29,880, the comparable SEL trim (to the regular GTE) starts from £30,515, while the sportier-looking R-Line will set you back £33,385.

Aside from the obvious, the GTE adds a few exterior and interior touches over the SEL trim; from blue brake callipers to a leather-trimmed gear knob with blue stitching. There are a few other changes to note, which we’ll outline further down in this review.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE

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While the non-hybrids are cheaper on paper, it is worth considering that if one is purchasing the Passat Estate as a company car, there are significant differences in Benefit-in-Kind taxation. The petrol models range between 31-37%, while the two hybrid models sit at 10%, only.

As for competition, there are a few alternative hybrid estates to consider: the BMW 330e SE Pro Touring starts from £41,530 (215 kW / 292 hp); the Mercedes C 300e EQ Power from £42,069 (245 kW / 329 hp); while the Volvo V60 starts from £45,825 (253 kW / 340 hp).

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VW Passat Estate GTE exterior review

Much like its competitors, the Passat Estate GTE’s exterior is reminiscent of the manufacturer’s hatchback and saloon-sized vehicles. In our eyes, Volkswagen has nailed the car’s design; from the front, it wouldn’t cross our minds to think that this is a family-sized estate, while from the side, the Passat Estate GTE has a sporty profile. Exactly what we’d expect from a car that has ‘GTE’ branding plastered all over it.

The same couldn’t be said about the car’s rear boot design which is very much more low-key in its bubble-shaped design; although, Volkswagen has made an attempt to spruce things up with the inclusion of a small spoiler and fake exhausts. The latter is an ever-growing trend in the industry, and while we’d prefer real outlets, it shouldn’t be of much concern the vast majority of prospecting buyers.

Elsewhere, the model you see on review has the £1,000 Panoramic Sunroof option and the £640 Manganese Grey colour with Titan Black leather upholstery. The former option allows for much-wanted sunlight to enter the car’s interior cabin; there’s an electronically adjustable blind to block out rays of sunshine if it becomes unbearable.

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VW Passat Estate GTE interior review

The Passat Estate GTE’s interior is, well, very Volkwagen. Throughout the cabin the vehicle is reminiscent of the manufacturer’s other cars; if you’ve sat in a 2015 VW Golf or similar, you’ll feel a sense of similarity when sitting in the new Passat.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for those transitioning to an electric vehicle (EV) for the first time, but we’d like the German automaker to have put a bit more effort; after all, this is a £42,130 vehicle and if we were to judge from the interior design only, it’s not too dissimilar from a used VW golf that costs a quarter of its price.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE front wheel

Here, the vehicle’s rubbery, plastic design that stretches around the cabin looks and feels a bit bland; not sure what Volkswagen was thinking in adding a ‘PASSAT’ badge above the infotainment display, either.

Elsewhere, the buttons on the steering wheel are a bit shambolic. On the left, there are Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist controls, under this cluster, you’ll find a volume rocker. To the right, instrument cluster controls and media navigation keys. There’s not even a play/pause button in sight.

On the plus side, around the back of the steering wheel, you’ll find flappy paddles, and past that you’ll find the instrument cluster. Here, the display is both colourful and easy to see under tricky ambient light conditions. On the left, there’s a power indicator that cleverly integrates itself with a tachometer (rev counter); on the other side an easy-to-read digital speedometer. By either side of the instrument display, lies two dedicated indicators for the battery and fuel levels.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE instrument cluster

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If you’d prefer to keep your eyes on the road and not have to glance at your instrument cluster, you can opt for the additional Head-up Display (HUD), which will add £540 to your final bill. The see-through glass display electronically pops up by the driver’s side dashboard. It isn’t the most premium-looking addition but, nevertheless, is an extremely useful tool as it shows key driving information – such as speed limit, driver assistance systems and can integrate with the car’s in-built navigation system, too.

Moving to the centre console, Volkswagen has, yet again, incorporating a familiar yet practical design. Two cupholders reside next to a compartment where you can store loose change, and here you’ll also find the car’s 12V plug.

At the bottom of the centre console, there’s an adjustable armrest that doubles up as a storage compartment. Inside, there’s a USB Type-C charging port. While the latter addition will be a welcome sight for tech-savvy individuals with modern-day equipment, most individuals, we fear, will need an adapter – thankfully, a Type-C to Type-A (regular USB) adapter comes included. However, you might need to purchase another one, as there’s a second Type-C port by the gear selector. The German automaker must think everyone owns a USB Type-C to Type-C cable. Maybe it’s a means of futureproofing, who knows?

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE cupholder

Regardless of how you connect your smartphone, the car supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. It’s great to see these systems included as it opens up a world of possibilities; from live traffic updates from Google Maps to having an entire music library at your fingertips without having to listen to degraded quality songs over Bluetooth.

Speaking of sound, if you’d like to know how the stock 8-speaker system performs, watch our dedicated review of it on YouTubeIf this doesn’t meet your expectations, you can always spend an additional £1,150 on the ‘Dynaudio Confidence’ pack, which bolsters the system with a more powerful 10-speaker setup, instead.

As for the 8″ infotainment, it’s a vivid touchscreen display. It’s not as fluid as the one that’s comprised within the Audi A8 L TFSIe for example, but neither is it as sluggish as the one found within the MG ZE EV. It’s somewhat of a mid-range performer, as it tends to take a bit more time to respond than we’d like when flicking through the car’s various settings.

At the far side of the display, there are capacitative buttons: Menu, Home, Power, and volume up and down. We’re pleased to see a dedicated volume control, though, we would have preferred a physical knob instead.

Delightedly, the German automaker has preserved physical climate controls, which sit under the 8″ display. Call us old fashioned, but feeling the clicks of the wheel as you cycle through the fan speed or temperature makes for a better experience than having to tap frantically tap at a display – a trend that a lot of manufacturers, Volkswagen included, have started to adopt in modern cars. Naturally, you can visualise the car’s climate controls through the display, too.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE climate controls

Read next: Audi A8 audio review: Is the Bang & Olufsen system worth it?

VW Passat Estate GTE storage review

The main reason you’d consider buying the Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE isn’t for its interior design, rather, the added amount of space you have at the back. Now, while boot space is down from 650 litres to 483 litres due to the addition of batteries raising the boot’s floor, it’s still plentiful. With the seats down (via two handy levers in the boot), the figure extends to a staggering 1,613 litres of usable space. That’s more than enough to store a few mountain bikes, large-sized luggage or even, floorboards.

It’s not just the boot that impresses, but the small pockets of space that appear around the car’s cabin, too. Each of the four doors can store a 500ml bottle with ease, while rear passengers have a small compartment located behind both of the front seats for books or tablets.

If there are only four occupants in the car, the rear centre console can be brought down to reveal two cupholder spaces; it doubles up as an armrest, too. At the front, there’s the storage compartment under the front armrest and the glove compartment to store valuables.

Read next: MG ZS EV Exclusive audio review: Impressive 3D surround sound

VW Passat Estate GTE comfort review

Storing large-sized items is the car’s biggest selling point, but how does it feel to sit inside? At the front, the driver has a semi-electronically adjustable seat, which is baffling, to say the least; here, the lumbar support and rear backrest are electronic, while the height of the seat, position and leg support are all manually adjustable. It’s all manual for the front passenger, too. At the rear, it’s unsurprisingly fixed.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE front seat

Despite this odd mix of manual and electronic controls, the four seats are comfortable and cushiony. A fifth adult (or child) can also be seated in the rear, though, this seat is much stiffer.

As for legroom, there’s plenty of it both at the front and at the back. The same could be said about headroom, whereby 6-foot (182cm) individuals will feel they have lots of room no matter which seat they choose.

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VW Passat Estate GTE performance review

The Passat Estate GTE is not only comfortable to sit in but also a joy to drive. The vehicle’s suspension is both soft enough to roll over speed bumps and potholes with ease, but stiff enough to keep you planted on the road when you’re taking corners at speed.

It’s truly quite remarkable what Volkswagen has managed to achieve with this long-wheelbase vehicle, as no matter what you throw at it, the car will feel rock-steady. Especially when it comes to manoeuvrability, whereby you’ll often forget that you’re at the wheel of an estate.

Its turning circle, for example, is surprisingly good. One can execute a three-point turn with ease while reversing around a corner is a breeze with front and rear parking sensors fitted as standard. To make things even easier, you can opt to add a rearview camera for £345, alternatively, if you order Area View, it gives you front, rear and side cameras – a 360° exterior view of the car – for £835. Even without the addition of the cameras, visibility is excellent.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE cbain

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When it comes to performance, the Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE houses a 1.4-litre petrol engine that’s capable of producing 115 kW (154 hp) of power on its own, but when combined with its 85 kW (114 hp) motor, it despatches 160 kW (215 hp) of total power. This yields a top speed of 138 mph with a combined 400 Nm of torque at your disposal; 62mph from a standstill will only take 7.6s, too.

The combination of both the gasoline and electric portion of the car form a perfect partnership. The car’s throttle is responsive, it handles well when it’s thrown around country roads and makes for a quick getaway at the lights. It’s especially impressive to see such a seamless, unidentifiable switch between the two power modes.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE engine

While you will be aware that the turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is ticking away in the background, it’s still impressive to feel how smooth the transition between all-electric and petrol is when you’re behind the wheel. This is also aided by the clever illustration of the tachometer, which on the left, is dedicated to power recovery and output, and on the right, four notches that lead up to 8,000 RPM.

The same could be said about the car’s DSG transmission, which is both responsive and smooth when transitioning through the six gears. You can manually select the gears through the gear selector (when shifted to the side to initiate manual mode), or via the flappy paddles by the steering wheel.

It is not, however, flawless. The car’s biggest letdown is its all-electric range, which is claimed to be 33 miles. In reality, its 13 kWh battery will net around 25 miles in mixed driving conditions; and without it accepting a higher charge than 3.6 kW, it’ll take around 3hrs 33mins to charge till full via its Type 2 charging port, which resides at the front of the vehicle. It’ll take 5 hours when connected to a regular 3-pin wall socket.

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It’s also rather annoying to find the car doesn’t store your last-selected drive mode. Here, the car always starts in E-Mode (full electric) instead of operating in one of its other drive modes or GTE mode, which was our preferred choice as it intelligently runs in hybrid mode at all times.

The same could be said about its regenerative braking mode, B-Mode, which can be initiated when you shift down on the gear selector when in Drive (D). If, like us, you prefer to recoup as much energy as possible and would prefer to use a near one-pedal approach to braking, you’ll have to initiate B-Mode each time you turn on the car.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE drive mode

As for total driving range, expect around 450 miles combined with both petrol and electric modes combined. The former yields around 430 miles on a full tank, although, your mileage may vary depending on your driving style. We clocked an average of 60-65mpg in our mixed driving tests, which is quite some way off Volkwagen’s 156.9 mpg claim. Still, the former realistic figure is an excellent result.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE safety

When it comes to safety, the Passat Estate GTE comes with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Front Assist and City Emergency Braking, along with Lane Assist. In general, the safety systems worked well, although, you’ll want to keep an eye out for ACC as it did sometimes throw anomalies in our tests. For example, when driving on the motorway, it would pick up sliproad speed limits and unexpectedly decelerate the car. Not what you want when you’re driving at 70mph.

Speaking of which, when driving at speed, it’s surprising to hear how quiet the cabin is; there’s barely any wind noise through the car’s A-pillars and road noise is kept to a minimum. You will, of course, hear a bit of tyre noise but it’s nothing to be worried about.

Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE design

Read next: Mini Electric audio review: An impressive audio system

TotallyEV’s verdict on the Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE

Despite a few of its shortcomings, namely in its limited all-electric range and bland interior design, the Passat Estate GTE is a very competent hybrid estate. While it might not be as luxurious-looking or as fast as some of its competitors, Volkswagen has created a fun-to-drive, easy-to-manoeuvre, sporty-looking estate, which appeals to the masses.

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What do you make of the VW Passat Estate GTE? Let us know in the comments below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Christopher Minasians
Christopher is an avid car enthusiast and techie. In his spare time, he reviews the latest consumer electronic products on his YouTube channel, TotallydubbedHD. Elsewhere, he practices Taekwondo, in which he has held a black belt for several years and coaches at a national level. He also speaks fluent English, French, Armenian, and loves to practice freestyle street dance.
volkswagen-passat-estate-gte-review-the-best-hybrid-estateThe Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE is a hybrid estate that combines a sporty look with a practical design; it's fun to drive, extremely easy to manoeuvre and seamlessly switches between all-electric and petrol power. It's not perfect, however, as the estate is let down by its bland interior design and has a limited all-electric range.


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