Car Reviews

2016 Volkswagen Passat GTE Saloon Review

Carzone drives the new Volkswagen Passat Plug-in Hybrid on Irish roads


Pros: Performance, refined electric drive, styling

Cons: Pricy, less impressive handling

The choice of electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the marketplace is growing rapidly, and Volkswagen is leading the drive towards alternative forms of propulsion along with manufacturer’s such as BMW, Nissan, Renault and Toyota. Volkswagen’s latest plug-in hybrid offering is based on one of its bestselling models, the Passat, and while it looks and feels almost identical to the standard Passat, it is based on a futuristic electric platform. But does the Passat GTE really make sense here in Ireland where diesel cars reign supreme?   

What is it like?

The Passat GTE is almost identical to the regular Passat Saloon from the outside with subtle styling changes that hint at its electric genes, including prominent u-shaped LED daytime running lights, reshaped bumpers, GTE badging and blue trim strips on the rear boot and front grille. The charging flap for charging the Passat GTE’s battery is neatly tucked away behind the front grille and our test car is fitted with nice 18-inch Dartford alloy wheels.

Inside it’s a similar story, the Passat GTE is mostly similar to the regular Passat except for blue ambient lighting and battery charge power readouts on the dashboard. Volkswagen offers a Car-Net e-Remote’ smartphone app for the car which allows you to check the current level of battery charge, where the car is parked and lots more remotely. The GTE enjoys a very high standard specification including velour upholstery with an electric driver’s seat and Volkswagen’s 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The real talking point of the Passat GTE is how it drives. It combines a 114bhp electric motor with a 154bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine to offer total power output of 218bhp, which is impressive from a performance point of view. There are several driving modes which allow you to drive on combined power (petrol and electric), petrol only and electric only (E-Mode) for ultimate economy. When fully charged, the Passat GTE can cover around 48 kilometres in electric-only mode, while there is also a recharge mode with recharges the batteries on the move but uses petrol to do it.

A touch of the GTE button located by the gear lever puts the Passat GTE into a performance-orientated driving mode, allowing full power output of 218bhp. In this mode it can cover 0-100km/h in around seven and a half seconds and on to an eventual top speed of 225km/h with the added power from the electric motor. The weight of the electric system means the Passat GTE weighs over 110kg more and that means it doesn’t handle quite as confidently as the diesel-powered model, while the ride is firm but comfortable on smooth roads.

The Passat GTE can be charged at home through a standard household socket in around three hours, or faster at one of the many eCars quick-charge points located around Ireland. Volkswagen claims the Passat GTE can achieve the equivalent of over 160mpg when run in electric-only mode, but we were unable to achieve these figures during our test which took us out of town and on the M1 motorway towards Dundalk. Those who commute shorter distances with charge points readily available will get the best results. As it slots into Band A1, annual motor tax comes in at €170.

At €41,565 for the entry model, the Passat GTE is more expensive than most of the high specification diesel Passat models, but it is on par with a lot of the other premium plug-in hybrid models currently on the market. This price is inclusive of the €5,000 SEAI grant and also includes the Government’s €2,500 VRT rebate, while our test car was fitted with optional extras including a rear view camera, Discover media system and Volkswagen’s carnet system with E-Remote. 

Carzone verdict: 4/5

Test Car Details:

Model driven: Volkswagen Passat GTE

Prices from: €41,565

Price as tested: €45,117

Annual Road Tax: €170

Engine: 1395cc four-cylinder petrol / electric motor

Power/Torque: 218hp, 400Nm

Top Speed: 215 km/h

0-100km/h: 7.4 seconds

Transmission: 6-Speed DSG Automatic

Body style: Saloon