A year ago the Volkswagen Passat took a double victory at Fleet News Awards, collecting both the lower medium car of the year and the reader-voted new company car of the year trophies.
The judges said at the time that the Passat was a “solid reliable car which offers an upmarket image”.
They praised its efficiency, strong RVs, low running costs and driveability.
Four weeks into our long-term test of the Passat, it’s time to ask: is the car living up to these lofty expectations?
In short, yes - although it’s not an unqualified success.
The Passat has been an evergreen hit for Volkswagen: every generation has offered class-leading levels of comfort, space and quality. The latest model adds in class-leading CO2 emissions with the BlueMotion 1.6TDI serving up an incredible 109g/km.
Our 2.0-litre diesel test car doesn’t quite match those figures, but the combination of 140bhp, 119g/km CO2 and 61.4mpg is highly impressive.
The first marker for any long-term Fleet News car is its ability to live up to the official fuel consumption figures. So far, the Passat has been found wanting, certainly as far as our daily 24-mile roundtrip commute is concerned.
The current average of 47.7mpg is poor, although one longer trip saw the trip computer nudge a more frugal 54mpg.
However, the extremely cold weather has probably not helped; neither has the fact that the Passat arrived box-fresh with just 100 delivery miles on the clock. One it clicks into four figures, with a few longer-haul journeys to bed in the engine, we expect to see much improved fuel efficiency.
One performance area not affected by the car’s newness is its on-road manners. The Passat is suitably cushioned for the growing number of potholes on UK roads, but the chassis is sufficiently firm for more spirited driving.
Handling is direct and instant, although a little remote at times. However, you quickly appreciate how willing and eager this car is when pushed.
At speed, the engine is refined and quiet, while Volkswagen’s designers have paid special attention to improving the aerodynamics, resulting in minimal wind noise.
And when your daily trip to work starts at the fringes of the pancake-flat, wind-swept East Anglian fenlands, this gets a big tick.