57: Volkswagen Passat – Subtle and underrated German deserves consideration

Top cars for 2018: Space is excellent, as is refinement, and somewhat surprisingly the handling’s not bad either

 

The Volkswagen Passat is like a Tissot watch. It is neither as show-off-y nor as glamorous as the more celebrated brands - for Rolex, TAG, and Omega read BMW, Mercedes, and Audi - but it is their equal in technical terms and there will always be the sneaking suspicion that the cheaper version is actually the superior model.

It’s easy to be sniffy and snobby about a Passat, that denizen of the motorway rest stop and home to the company rep, but the fact is that it’s a hugely impressive car. Subtly handsome, its cabin may be plain in style but it’s a supremely comfortable and beautifully made place in which to spend time.

Space is excellent, as is refinement, and somewhat surprisingly the handling’s not bad either. It’s occasionally even enthusiastic. Estate version is all of that with a bigger boot. Twin-turbo 240hp TDI is a genuine Q-Car, but 120hp 1.6 TDI or 150hp 1.4 TSI are just fine for most of us. GTE an effective plugin hybrid.

Best model: 1.6 TDI Highline

Prices start from: €28,195

Finance package from: €319

Co2 emissions: 39-144g/km

Sum-up: Sober and sensible, but deeply impressive too.