As with the Golf, the Passat GTE’s appearance is distinguished by the C-shaped LED running lights housed in its front bumper and the blue bar that extends across the grille and headlights, while the grille conceals the port for charging the battery.

It’s a subtle (and inexpensive) tweak of the model’s styling, although, given the vivid shade of blue, the use of which extends even to the brake calipers, the GTE is easy enough to tell apart from the diesel models in the range.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Like any plug-in hybrid, the GTE’s economy will depend on how you use it. The 166mpg claim fools no one, but I saw an indicated 80mpg on one 50-mile route

There has been some modest enhancement of output and battery capacity, but the petrol-electric powertrain is essentially the same as the one that features in the Golf GTE, meaning its combination of a 154bhp 1.4 TSI petrol engine and 113bhp electric motor are shared with the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, too.

Working in tandem in its GTE drive mode, Volkswagen quotes combined maximum outputs of 215bhp and 295lb ft, which are good for a 0-62mph claim of 7.4sec and a 140mph top speed – despite this Passat’s predictably substantial 1722kg kerb weight.

The bulk of the GTE’s extra mass is accounted for by the eight- module lithium ion battery pack mounted under the rear seats.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

With a 9.9kWh capacity and a peak output of 103kW, the battery pack weights 135kg with its management system taken into account. The electric motor it powers, incorporated into the same housing as the six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, constitutes an additional 34kg on top of that.

In E-Mode, the zero-emissions portion of the powertrain won’t trouble the petrol engine (although it may turn over to circulate its oil).

It takes around four hours to charge the battery from a domestic socket, or two and a half hours if you’re using a 3.6kW wallbox – enough for the 31-mile range that VW says will get most people to work.

To help maximise efficiency, the dual-clutch gearbox sports a third clutch that decouples the petrol engine entirely from the driveline when possible.

When it does function, the turbocharged EA211 four-pot makes for a familiar power source. Modifications to it are limited, but to guard against damage from cold starting and infrequent use, a special coating is applied to the piston rings, main rod and bearings. As with the Golf, the engine can be used to part-charge a depleted battery while running, or used to save existing battery charge for later use.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week