There’s precious little added spice to the standard Passat’s dynamic recipe here, but while that may be disappointing, it’s also understandable.

There are plenty of hybrid cars on the market whose dependence on low-resistance tyres to even approach their claimed economy in real-world use markedly hampers their ability to hold the road with conviction. For evidence of that, look no further than the Kia Niro.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Rear axle stays determinedly in line even if you trail-brake into faster off-camber bends, with the chassis keeping the extra weight of the car’s drive battery well in check

In light of that, the Passat GTE’s impression of a perfectly competent and well-rounded but not desperately keen-handling family saloon might actually be applauded.

The GTE came to us on the same-sized wheels and exactly the same specification of tyre as those fitted to the diesel Passat we tested last year.

Wolfsburg claims the car’s suspension gets particularly sporty tuning, but you wouldn’t really know it. Moreover, you can feel the effect of that 169kg payload of battery, electric motor and power electronic ballast in the low-frequency lope of the car’s ride, which gradually gathers into slightly dubious vertical body control when you extend the GTE over testing back roads. There’s also an occasionally brittle edge to the secondary wheel control.

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The car’s handling response is good, however. Although grip is balanced to prioritise stability over directional agility when push comes to shove, you can certainly harry the car along through corners as hardas you’re likely to want to on the road, with the tyres hanging on to an intended path keenly enough.

The GTE’s ability to engage its driver ends about there, though. Its steering is neither tactile nor communicative and its handling is neither as lively nor as adjustable as a sports saloon’s might be expected to be.

But to make the car any more purposeful might have adversely affected its breadth of ability – and that would have been a shame.

Precise and secure without being particularly poised, exciting or grippy, the Passat GTE copes as well with hard driving as you’d expect of a medium-sized German saloon — but no better.

Predictable and consistent grip levels and control weights make it straightforward to drive quickly, while sophisticated traction and stability controls intervene with subtlety for an assured hold on the road.

Body roll is well contained and the car nudges into gentle understeer at the limit. Handling isn’t as sweetly balanced as it might have been, but that isn’t a big limiting factor to the dynamic appeal.

After speed testing, several laps of the hill route were enough to empty the drive battery, at which point the performance dropped off markedly as the 1.4 TSI engine shouldered the burden of keeping the car moving. But that would be highly unlikely to happen on the road except after intensive climbing or prolonged hard driving.

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