Company Car Today - Issue 54 - 26th June 2019

Despite the seemingly unstoppable march of the crossover, the humble family saloon and estate still manage to carve a respectable place in the UK market. Excluding the premium brands, the Passat was the second biggest seller in the large family class last year with more than 12,500 sold – the majority as company cars. To cement its standing in the sector, Volkswagen has given the eighth-generation Passat an extensive makeover including a facelift, new and even higher-quality interior including a digital dashboard, a host of new tech and a wider engine range. Volkswagen reintroduced petrol engines to the Passat range two years ago (it had been diesel-only for several years), so it is now available with a choice of three petrol engines ranging from 150hp to 272hp, four diesels from 120hp to 240hp, and a petrol VW PASSAT plug-in hybrid with 218hp. However, fleets should note that the diesel engines won’t be RDE2-compliant at launch, so they’ll be subject to the 4% Benefit-in- Kind tax penalty that cars such as the new Jaguar XE manage to avoid. As before, the Passat will be available in saloon, estate and Alltrack forms with the estate taking the largest share of sales. Company cars will account for 78% of the mix in a full year. And because the Passat is primarily a long-distance fleet car, the 150hp 2.0-litre TDI will still be the best seller, although due to the dieselgate saga, the subsequent rise in the popularity of petrol and the availability of a plug-in hybrid version, there is a wider spread across the model mix. With the new car, Volkswagen hasn’t messed with the basic formula. It’s still a refined, comfortable cruiser with plenty of space for a family of four and their luggage, but now these aspects have been boosted with new technology such as a clever cruise control system that allows the car to creep in traffic and keep within its lane, as well as new connected services. To drive, the 190hp diesel is still as strong as ever under acceleration. However, while the overall refinement of the car at a cruise is improved, there is still a noticeable rattle at lower speeds under light acceleration, which is something neither the petrols nor the hybrid we drove suffered from. Nevertheless, all versions had light steering with little feedback, but felt stable sat at a motorway cruise. VW has not messed with the formula. The Passat is a refined, comfy cruiser ESTATE 2.0 TDI 190HP R-LINE COMPANY CAR TODAY.CO.UK 22 Behind the wheel of the latest fleet metal CCT Review