More than a year behind schedule, the Volkswagen Passat GTE has finally gone on sale in the UK, with order books opening in the first week of August.
As we reported in late 2014, VW’s latest plug-in hybrid was initially due to go on sale in June 2015 with the first deliveries expected in October last year. In the event, orders opened on 2 August and the earliest examples are now expected to reach UK roads before the end of the month. Volkswagen has given no explanation for the change of timetable.
The Volkswagen Passat GTE is available in both saloon and estate car guises, providing a larger and more spacious sibling for the plug-in Golf GTE, which scored an impressive 10 out of 10 when given a Green Car Guide grilling last summer.
The Golf and Passat GTE are closely related under the skin, with both cars combining a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, six-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox with integrated electric motor, and a mains-charged lithium-ion battery.
For the larger and heavier Passat, outputs of all the powertrain components have been raised slightly, with a little more power available from both the engine and the electric motor and 10% more energy stored in a fully charged battery. The upshot is that the Golf and Passat GTE share identical acceleration figures, each capable of reaching 62mph from a standstill in just 7.6 seconds.
Combined, engine and motor can provide peak power of 160kW (215bhp) and 400Nm of torque, making the GTE among the more lively members of the Passat range, eclipsed only by the 240-horsepower diesel GT 2.0 BiTDI.
The GTE’s official CO2 rating is 39g/km, for the saloon and estate alike, which is more than low enough to qualify for exemption from the London Congestion Charge. The new car also qualifies for category 2 of the Plug-in Car Grant, earning a £2,500 contribution towards purchase. Including the grant, prices for the saloon start at £34,025 while the estate is priced from £35,575. There are two well-equipped trim levels on offer.
For company buyers, the Passat GTE earns the best possible BIK tax rating of 7% in the current tax year, rising to 9% in 2017-18.
The car’s combined cycle economy rating is 166mpg but, as with all plug-in hybrids, the real-world economy will depend entirely on what proportion of journeys can be completed using electric power. A fully charged battery provides up to 31 miles in the GTE’s pure-electric mode, according to Volkswagen, which will probably translate to a fair bit less in real terms for most drivers. Hybrid running, battery saving and a sporting GTE mode can also be selected by the driver.
Fully recharging the battery will take around four hours and 15 minutes from a three-pin socket, or two and a half hours from a 3.6kW wallbox. More rapid charging is not supported.
The new GTE does suffer a slight loss of practicality compared to conventional versions of the Passat. The car’s 9.9kWh battery is carried under the rear seating, which has meant moving the fuel tank to straddle the back axle, encroaching into the boot. As a result, the GTE is not offered with the option of a spare wheel, and the storage space under the boot floor is smaller than normal. The compartment it is sufficient to stow the type 1 and type 2 charging cables supplied, however.
Despite this modest intrusion into the boot, the Volkswagen Passat GTE remains a spacious car within its class, providing 402 to 968 litres for luggage in the saloon and 483 to 1613 litres in the estate.
By Lem Bingley