Power for the Volkswagen Passat GTE comes from a 13kWh battery and electric motor paired with a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine.
Starting the Passat up, the plug-in hybrid system offers a choice of fully electric mode – equating to some 30 miles in our test car when fully charged – or a hybrid setting, where the GTE automatically makes use of both power sources to optimise its zero-emission range and cut fuel consumption.
There is even some computer wizardry in the sat-nav system which, when plotting a journey, will decide when to use a particular power source.
Driving our test car, the transition between power sources is so smooth it is actually very hard to spot.
The petrol engine provides 156PS but, combined with electric power, that increases to 218PS, offering some punchy performance and just 7.6 seconds to get from 0-62mph in the estate and 7.4 seconds in the saloon.
The battery is located under the rear bench seat, while the electric motor is integrated with the six-speed DSG gearbox.
Despite that battery weight, the Passat GTE handles well on the road, but is perhaps better suited to munching the miles on the motorway, rather than negotiating country roads.
The GTE’s 18-inch alloy make the ride a little firm but opting for Dynamic Chassis Control (standard on the 243PS diesel, optional otherwise) allows you to choose different settings, adjusting the suspension’s firmness between Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual and GTE modes.
Comfort gives a more relaxed feel, while GTE stiffens the suspension and adds extra weight to the steering, which is needed. There are also some fake engine sounds pumped into the cabin to add a degree of excitement.
But the Passat estate isn’t about thrills and spills. It’s about refined, relaxed driving which the GTE delivers, making it an attractive proposition for high-mileage company car drivers.
VW Passat GTE Advance joins our fleet
One-in-four Volkswagen Passats sold in the UK are predicted to be GTE variants and, after just a few weeks of driving the GTE Advance estate, I’m beginning to understand why.
There are eight variants of the new Passat available in the UK: SE, SE Nav, SEL, R-Line and limited-run, Estate-only R-Line Edition, GTE and GTE Advance.
Our 1.4 TSI plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) GTE Advance Passat has emissions of 33g/km (GTE is 31g/km), an electric-only range of 33 miles (WLTP) and a P11D price of £41,395.
Attracting a 10% benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rate this financial year, it means a 20% taxpayer would pay £69 per month in company car tax.
The first thing to note, which helps it into that 10% company car tax bracket, is the electric-only range on the new GTE is an almost 40% improvement on the outgoing model. It would certainly be enough for most commutes – whenever they might return.
The electric motor is paired with a 156PS 1.4 TSI petrol engine to deliver a combined output of 218PS, 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds in the estate, and fuel economy of 201.8mpg (WLTP).
The GTE will start up in pure electric mode and run this way unless you change the settings or accelerate quickly. The transition from electric to petrol power is almost seamless and the petrol engine is also one of the quietest around.
Unsurprisingly, the secret for getting the best fuel economy out of the GTE is ensuring it is regularly charged. With no home charge point available, I used a household socket and it took approximately five hours to fully charge the 13kWh battery – an upgrade on the 9.9kWh battery featured on the old model. Use a wallbox and the charge time should reduce to around three-and-a-half hours.
Over the next few weeks, I intend to compare both the fuel economy of a regularly charged car, run in electric mode where possible, and a more irregular charging pattern to see how it varies. Power costs from home charging will also be monitored.