The Passat has long been a stalwart in the fleet sector for Volkswagen, and revisions to the range ensure this is likely to continue.
Last year, 85% of the 12,500 models registered in the UK went to fleets, with the estate version outselling the saloon two to one.
Both body shapes continue for its latest generation and although there are few exterior visual changes to identify the refreshed model, it does feature some significant updates to increase its fleet appeal.
These include two new powertrains: a 150PS TDI Evo and a new GTE plug-in hybrid. The latter offering 30% greater electric-only range than its predecessor and CO2 emissions of just 34g/km.
An extensive re-working of the emissions system on the diesel model means this new version emits up to 80% less NOx than its predecessor.
The TDI 150 Evo has CO2 emissions of 101g/km (NEDC-correlated) in saloon guise and 104g/km in more popular estate form. Adding a DSG automatic transmission increases the CO2 output by 1g/km. VW says it meets the technical requirements of Euro 6d, but is not currently RDE2-compliant.
The car should achieve around 55mpg, according to the WLTP test. During our time with the DSG estate, it exceeded this figure on multiple trips.
One of the most noticeable changes with the new engine is its refinement. At idle, and when driving around town at lower revs, there is much less noise intrusion from the engine bay. The diesel motor only makes itself known at higher revs.
Performance is good: with 150PS on tap, the Passat has just the right amount of power to not feel sluggish and there is plenty of torque to keep the car moving without much effort.
The range also includes a 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine and two further 2.0 TDI diesel units, with power outputs of 190PS and 240PS.
Six speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes are offered, with four trim levels available: SE, SE Nav, SE L and R-Line.
SE models come with most of the equipment fleet users will require although sat-nav is only available on SE Nav grade and above.
Our test car was an SE L (priced from £29,115), which features leather upholstery and heated front seats. It felt a bit dated with no climate control or digital instruments although both are available as options.
R Line models are the most desirable with all the above kit, plus a sporty look, but bump the starting price up to £32,000.
Standard equipment across the range includes LED headlights, while all models will also feature Travel Assist, which allows the car to be driven at up to 130mph in a partially automated mode.
It combines the manufacturer’s latest adaptive cruise control system with road sign recognition and GPS to auto adjust the speed for different limits, as well as slowing for junctions and corners.
VW expects the GTE to account for 25% of UK registrations, and the new benefit-in-kind tax bands will make it a particularly attractive proposition to drivers.
Its 13kWh battery will give it an electric-only range of 34 miles, putting it in the 12% bracket in 2020-21 if the car is registered before April 6, 2020 (10% if registered after this date).
Standard equipment on GTE includes 17-inch wheels, sports suspension, blue brake callipers, unique C-shape LED running lights and Discover Navi-gation infotainment with eight-inch touchscreen.
GTE advance adds 18-inch wheels, LED matrix headlights, Discover Navigation Pro with 9.2-inch touchscreen and keyless entry.
We've also tested the GTE and 2.0 TDI 190PS models and both impressed. Interior space is plentiful, while the design and quality of the cabin gives the range a genuine premium feel.
Ride comfort and refinement for both powertrains was impressive, particularly in the GTE as it can be driven in electric-only mode at up to 80mph, and both covered long distances effortlessly.
The estate in particular also offers a high level of practicality with a 650-litre boot (Ford Mondeo estate: 500 litres, Vauxhall Insignia Sport Tourer: 560 litres), making the Passat an accomplished all-rounder.
Specifications shown for VW Passat 2.0 TDI EVO 150 SE Nav