The Passat as a typical station wagon in the luxury class is familiar in everyday life. The current version B8 was given a facelift for the model year. The modifications relate to the body, the engines and new equipment variants. Like its predecessors, the Passat is primarily in demand as a means of transport, field service vehicle and large-format station wagon. The plug-in hybrid has potential for long tours, and a long-haul test shows the wide range of possible uses.
The PHEV modes at a glance
In addition to the normal driving modes, the GTE also has a few special plug-in hybrid modes. Three buttons are clearly arranged to the left of the gear lever. The middle button ("Mode") is for the normal driving modes that the conventional Passat also has. The driver chooses between the "GTE" button (it activates the sporty boost mode of the hybrid system) and the "E-mode", which calls up the purely electric drive.
With the Passat GTE, a B-mode can also be activated, with which increased recuperation can be switched on. There is plenty of choice for drivers who like to choose between the driving worlds of the Passat.
Starting in electric mode
You don't need to pull your neighbors out of bed at the start of the morning. The electrical mode is preset after pressing the start button. It remains switched on until the battery capacity is exhausted or the purely electric speed limit of 140 km / h is exceeded. Another mode can of course also be selected manually using the modes mentioned above.
With the plug-in hybrids, the majority of users rely on recuperation. It can be fully charged at a household socket in a good five and a half hours or with the optional 360 volt charging cable with 3,6 kW charging power in around three and a half hours. These loading times do not encourage frequent external loading.
Torque and GTE mode
The engine has not changed compared to the previous model, an engine from the VW EA211 series is still used. The larger battery is new, with a battery capacity of 13 kWh and a correspondingly improved electrical range of up to 70 kilometers under optimal conditions.
With a total output of 218 hp and a maximum torque of 400 Nm, the Passat is adequately equipped for long-distance journeys. Full power delivery in boost mode is accessed by pressing the accelerator pedal or by activating GTE mode. A sound generator provides the appropriate soundscape in the background.
More recuperation through B-mode
The test of the recuperation options on sloping inclines in B-mode is more interesting. When rolling, you can feel the higher braking effect while driving, comparable to the motor brake in purely conventional drives. This results in the highest energy recovery for the relatively heavy Passat and improves the overall energy balance. With the scalable memory, the usual additional setting options from the past such as “Battery Hold” or “Battery Load” are no longer necessary.
The charge status is shown on the infotainment display. The current remaining capacity is retained by selecting the equals symbol next to it. In addition, the driver uses the directional arrows to set a desired remaining charge, for example for the city area. It is questionable whether these - in our opinion - cumbersome setting options really prove themselves in practice.
The diverse range of modes can be experienced while driving. However, most of the drives during our extensive test drives rarely take full advantage of them. It is mainly due to the competition in the upper class to offer such a wide range of options. With pure electric operation in the city and GTE mode on motorway routes, the most popular settings are sufficient.
One of the most popular applications under extreme weather conditions is preconditioning via app. As long as the battery is charged or the trolley is attached to the charging station, the trolley can easily be preset to its own comfortable temperature. An appreciable advantage of the plug-in hybrid: No additional auxiliary heating needs to be installed.
Trailer operation Passat GTE
Most electric cars do not allow towing a trailer. Because if you tackled the mountains with your electric car including the trailer, the electric motor would have thermal problems here at the latest and maybe even stop working. The GTE is designed for trailer loads of up to 1.600 kg, and due to the high torque, the loads can also be pulled easily.
The new battery is in front of the rear axle and the tank is pulled back accordingly. Compared to the conventional models, the trunk is 100 liters smaller, but is hardly significant in the Variant. About 8 centimeters are affected under the shelf as storage space. The spare wheel recess is smaller, but is sufficient to accommodate the charging cable.
The plug-in version is available at the same time as the other variants of the revamped Passat. The new Passat GTE is available from 44.795 euros (Variant: 45.810 euros). That is significantly more than for the variants with a pure combustion engine, when used as a company car it is only taxed at 0,5 percent of the list price per month. In the case of the Variant, that would be around 229 euros.
The advantage can only pay off economically under certain constellations. If you drive purely electrically and fill up with electricity for 30 cents per kWh, you spend around four euros on a complete 13 kWh charge (if you disregard the charging losses). That's around 6 euros for a 100-kilometer journey. With a diesel model (with 4,6 liters per 100 km and 1,26 euros / liter of diesel) you only pay around 5,80 euros. The diesel model with 190 PS and DSG is cheaper and available from around 43.000 euros, so it is a few thousand cheaper. In contrast, the new 2020 environmental bonus can save several thousand euros when buying a new car.
With prices around 45.000 euros, you can also consider an electric car with regard to the environmental bonus. The catch is that this year there is no comparable large-format station wagon that is purely electric. A Tesla Model 3 with a range of around 400 kilometers is just not a station wagon. The Kia Optima SW plug-in hybrid is roughly comparable at the moment. With a base price of 42.190 euros, it is also significantly cheaper than the VW. With 205 hp and a range of 62 kilometers according to the NEDC, it offers comparable data.
With over 40 years of development work, the current generation of the Passat is based on many empirical values that emerge in the areas of ergonomics, chassis and technology. The difference to the variants with combustion engine lies in the multiple driving modes. If you just want to drive relaxed with the automatic transmission, this version is just as correct as the technology lover who wants to experience the optimum between the modes. Anyone looking for a reliable and comfortable companion for long journeys will find a suitable station wagon in the Passat Variant.
Cover picture - Passat GTE 2020 - Copyright Volkswagen
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