The GTE badge was first ushered in with the VW Golf and it eventually made its way to the more conservative Passat.
Bolting a plug-in petrol-electric propulsion unit to a model that is best known for its diesel pulling power was perhaps a brave move for Volkswagen. But it seems to have paid off with the Passat.
Like the Golf, the VW Passat GTE’s looks are characterised by C-shaped LED lights accommodated in its bumper, and the blue bar that stretches across the headlights and grille.
It’s a restrained fine-tuning of the Passat’s tailoring, although, given the intense hue of blue, the use of which even expands to the car’s brake callipers, the GTE model is simple enough to distinguish from diesel Passats.
The battery capacity and output have been given a bit of a boost, but the petrol-electric set-up is fundamentally the same as in the VW Golf GTE’s. The 156PS 1.4 TSI petrol unit and 115PS electric motor combine to make 218PS, giving a 0-62mph sprint of 7.4 seconds. Top speed is 140mph, but unless you’re on a German autobahn, you’re unlikely to risk finding out what that feels like.
Step into the cabin and the Passat GTE houses a few understated touches, such as blue piping, blue stitching, aluminium trim and GTE emblems. Other than that, the switchgear and seats are the same as in any other Passat.
And, as with all Passat saloons, space is generous. Even with the car’s lithium ion drive battery beneath the rear seats, the VW has good room and a boot that is big enough for a family’s needs.
The Volkswagen’s electric charging time is easy to cope with. Plugging the car’s seven-pin charge cable into a 16A wall socket, I got the 9.9kWh battery from a quarter charged to 100 per cent in under two hours. The GTE runs well on electric-only juice, with a possible range of 31 miles on zero emissions.
In Hybrid form the VW saloon responds admirably, even when the petrol engine has closed, which it’ll do at moderate motorway speeds. The power unit restarts effortlessly when it needs to, while the car’s cruise control allows it to store its own impetus and cruise economically.
The Passat GTE’s handling is as good as its performance. You can thrust the saloon through bends and its tyres will dig into the tarmac strongly. There’s very little body roll, and the steering, while not delivering that much feedback, is precise.
Here’s the important bit, though. VW claims the Passat GTE will do 156.9mpg on the combined cycle. But, as with all cars, this model’s economy will depend on what your driving is like. On a 60-mile run, beginning with a fully charged battery and driving on a mix of roads, I achieved 80.1mpg.
Volkswagen’s Passat GTE is, without doubt, a talented car and an attractive vehicle in a wider sense than a conventional high-performing, fully loaded volume-marque.
By blending large car pragmatism with a sophisticated plug-in hybrid system, VW has produced one of the greatest reasons yet to think about swapping from a standard oil-burning business saloon to an electrically powered one.
PROS ‘N’ CONS
Cost Effective √
Steering Feedback X
Max speed: 140 mph
0-62 mph: 7.4 secs
Combined mpg: 156.9
Engine: 1395cc petrol + electric
Max. power (PS): 218
CO2: 40 g/km