With this Passat comes more clarity over where VW sees its GTE sub-brand fitting into its already complex strata of performance model families. As it turns out, it’s at a lowish level.

The car’s interior looks and feels more like that of a differently dressed Passat GT than of a proper performance derivative like a GTI.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
There’s no release button for the charging port cover. The fuel cap gets a switch on the door card, but the push panel operates via the central locking. Makes sense — but not if you’ve rooted around the cabin

The cabin has a few subtle identifying styling touches, such as blue stitching for its leather-upholstered gear selector and steering wheel, blue piping on its carpets, some ‘aluminium wave’ decorative trim for the dashboard and doors, and one or two GTE badges.

But, stitching apart, the seats and controls are as you might find them in any averagely well-equipped version of the saloon. Given that there is no GTI or R-branded Passat, it does feel as if VW could have pushed the boat out a bit more.

If you opt for VW’s adaptive digital instruments, the cabin does at least get a useful lift in terms of sense of occasion. Cycle through E-Mode, Hybrid, Battery Charge and GTE driving modes and you’ll see the dials adapt and change, from a percentage-based power usage meter when the car is running electrically to a conventional analogue tacho and speedometer when it’s in its sportiest GTE setting.

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In Hybrid mode – the one you’ll most likely spend the longest using – the rev counter is orientated in series with a power meter immediately before it that shows how much initial electric power is available after the engine has stopped and before it restarts. It’s a clever visual aid.

On practicality, the GTE gets one over on some of its immediate rivals by offering exactly as much space as any Passat – and that’s plenty.

With the lithium ion drive battery located under the back seats, the car has good occupant space in both rows and a boot that’s a very generous size.

In terms of perceived quality, and as with any other Passat in the range, the GTE easily transcends the standards of its traditional volume-brand saloon rivals and has no problem justifying a premium-brand price point.

Its primary materials are well chosen, well finished and mostly appealing to the touch, while its switchgear looks and feels particularly solid and classy.Volkswagen’s standard infotainment offering here is its Discover Navigation system, which comes with a 6.5in colour touchscreen, European mapping, speed limit display and DAB radio.

There’s a ‘Think Blue’ driver training feature included to provide feedback about how you can get better battery range and fuel economy.

Our test car had the Discover Navigation Pro fitted. It costs £825 but is one of the options that the GTE Advance model gets as standard. One way or the other, we’d have it. The 8.0in screen is large enough to display mapping at a good, readable size, with admirable clarity and with a good mapping detail without allowing the screen to get crowded.

App-Connect functionality gives you smartphone mirroring for Apple, Android and MirrorLink-enabled handsets, and you also get a 64GB hard drive for onboard music storage.

Compared with the latest systems available from VW’s premium-brand opposition — particularly Audi and Mercedes — this isn’t quite state of the art, but it’s very usable and has all the functionality you’re likely to need.

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