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To use a general rule of thumb, a Volkswagen Passat works out more expensive than the Ford Mondeo. It is also around the same more than the Skoda Superb, which has a more generous roster of standard equipment.

Of its mainstream rivals, though, the Passat promises the best economy and the lowest carbon emissions. Although our test average of the lower-powered 2.0-litre diesel 49.8mpg falls short of the claimed 61.4mpg combined figure, it is still impressive for a car of this size, while CO2 emissions of 120g/km put the Passat into the lowest band for benefit-in-kind tax. Without a stop-start system, the Superb, which shares the same engine, is significantly less efficient.

Tim Dickson

Chief sub-editor
The days when VWs were poorly equipped a long gone

Choose the smaller 1.6 diesel and you’re promised exceptional fuel returns of 65.7mpg (64.2mpg for the estate), while CO2 emissions drop in turn. Assuming a similar return to our tests of the bigger diesel engine, you should easily expect to top 50mpg in real-world use.

Of the petrols, the 1.4TSI gets Bluemotion tech to keep economy high and emissions low. And for a petrol-powered family car, it’s claimed average of 47.9mpg and 138g/km are again impressive.

The other petrol cars are efficient for their size, but you would have to be a low mileage driver for them to make any economic sense. Given the Passat's qualities as a motorway driver, it's likely therefore that few drivers will choose them.

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VW is evidently hoping to push the Passat upmarket with the CC and Alltrack additions to the range, and the pricing of these models reflects that attitude. The 2.0 TSI CC carries a premium of more than £3500 over the saloon, for example, and the 168bhp Alltrack is £4610 more expensive than the equivalent Passat estate.

The days when VWs were poorly equipped a long gone – even the entry-level S model gets alloy wheels, air conditioning, a USB socket and four electric windows. However, Bluetooth is an option, but standard on SE models and above. Higher-spec cars also get DAB radios as standard.

In addition to the usual safety features, this new Passat is offered with two optional systems: Fatigue Detection, which measures the driver’s inputs during the first 15 minutes of a journey and then emits an audible warning if it thinks there is a risk that the driver is about to drift off, and a City Emergency Braking function, which automatically stops the car if it senses a collision.

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