‘EVEN MORE PERFECTLY PASSAT’ - Volkswagen Passat [B8] (2019 - 2023) Independent Used Review (Ref:371/214079)


Car and Driving’s Independent Used Review of the Volkswagen Passat [B8] (2019 - 2023).

Added 22nd December, 2023

By Jonathan Crouch


We tend to think of cars in either 'premium' or 'volume' terms. Here though, is one that could comfortably fit within either definition, the version of the eighth generation Volkswagen Passat that was usefully improved back in 2019. Though targeted at the mainstream part of the medium range 'Mondeo-class' 'D'-segment, it had long had an appeal stretching beyond, up towards the premium mid-sized executive saloon class. Global buyers liked that and the result was a worldwide favourite the Wolfsburg maker simply couldn't afford to get wrong. Hence the subtle changes made to this enhanced 'B8'-series design, which included improved engineering, extra driver assist technology, updated media connectivity and smarter looks.



4dr Saloon/ 5dr Estate (1.4 TSI, 1.4 TSI GTE Plug-in, 1.5 TSI, 2.0 TSI, 1.6 TDI, 2.0 TDI, 2.0BiTDI)


Volkswagen's Passat is a car that has always played a very deft hand, bridging the gap between the mainstream and premium marques, while delivering comfort and value that was often market-leading. It's why most Passat generations saw this model line retained as Volkswagen's most successful nameplate and the reason why Wolfsburg couldn't afford to get generation eight wrong. They didn't - but by 2019, time had moved on since this 'B8' design's initial launch in 2014 and five years later, an update was needed - creating the revised model we're going to look at here.

As much as we like to think that the automotive world revolves around this sceptred isle, the truth is somewhat different. Here, we hold up the BMW 3 Series as the paragon of success when it comes to a mid-sized 'D'-segment saloon or estate able to build sales volumes on the back of premium build quality, but back in this century's second decade, in global terms the 3 Series was a bit-part player compared to Volkswagen's Passat. How successful was this VW at the height of this B8 model's production? You might want to sit down for this one. It was selling more than the entire product line-ups of BMW or Audi; fully 1.1 million cars a year, with China and the US the biggest recipients. By 2019, the Passat had been on sale since 1972, so actually pre-dated the Golf by a couple of years, and in the following decades, over 30 million Passats had been sold.

While other manufacturers of the period had been persuaded that models of this kind should be able to drive on their door handles, Volkswagen knew what its customer base really needed: a car that would lower the heartbeat, rather than raise it. And, as with any company that really knows its market, the rewards were considerable. Every day back in 2019, over 3,000 new Passats were being sold across the world, with a new owner taking delivery every 29 seconds, making this then the company's best selling global model. It was a phenomenon. No longer simply an integral part of the Volkswagen range, it was, back in 2019, pretty much a brand in itself.

The danger of such success is that it can result in an overly conservative approach when the time comes for changes. This lightly facelifted version of the MK8 model, actually announced in the Spring of 2019, certainly didn't look too much different to the original, either outside or in. Actually though, quite a lot went on here in terms of updates, especially beneath the bonnet where there was an all-new 150PS diesel engine for the volume variant and a significant 30% increase in electrified driving range for the GTE petrol plug-in version. Plus the car in this form featured arguably the most sophisticated semi-autonomous driving technology then in the segment. As previously, more Passat people chose the spacious Estate body style than the saloon version. With the station wagon body style, they also had the opportunity to consider an SUV-style Alltrack variant which used the 4MOTION 4WD system fitted to the more powerful versions of more conventional models. The Passat sold in this form until the end of 2023, when it was replaced by a new ninth generation B9 version only available as an estate.

What You Get

The Passat has never been a trendy follower of fashion. Rarely has this model ever caused heads to turn or hearts to miss a beat. For all that though, it's remained quietly fashionable throughout its model life, with understated yet sophisticated styling that confidently holds its own in almost any company carpark. That's fine for lording it over volume brand Mondeo market rivals. But it's never been quite enough to lure many buyers away from the premium pavement presence of 'D'-segment models from BMW, Audi or Mercedes. With this lightly revised version of the MK8 'B8'-series design though, there were signs that Volkswagen was starting to imbue this car with a little more premium DNA.

At the front for instance, smarter LED headlights added extra overtaking presence and the re-shaped lower fog lamps incorporated into the revised bumper looked more sophisticated. The lightly updated radiator grille exuded a more polished presence too, its purpose being to emphasise the car's width and, with the swept-back windscreen and low bonnet line, create a lower, wider and more expensive look. It's at the rear that this revised version of this 8th generation Passat was most clearly identifiable as an updated model. The restyled LED tail lamps were noticeably different - and rather classier - than those that featured on the original version of this design.

Inside up-front, this Passat remained quite a high-end place to be. You wouldn't expect that any of the fundamental elements would have been changed as part of a mid-term refresh, nor were they, Klaus Bischoff's design team instead contenting themselves with updating the steering wheel, restyling the door trims, revising the instruments and adding a few fresh trim finishes and fabrics. As before, the minimalist dashboard was dominated by one long vent with sleek integrated chrome fins that extended across the entire width of the fascia like a band. Volkswagen significantly updated the centre-dash screen with its 'MIB3' tech; base models got it in 6.5-inch form and the top 'Discover Pro' set-up was 9.2-inches in size but most Passats featured an 8-inch monitor. The key change here was the addition of an online connectivity unit incorporating an integrated eSIM, meaning that could allow this Passat to be permanently online. Which made it easier to access things like WiFi, music streaming, internet radio and vehicle and navigation-based services. Original owners could also have their Passat fitted with a second screen, a 10.25-inch 'Active Info Display' which as an option on lesser models could replace the conventional instrument binnacle dials. Another feature of this interior that we really liked was the superbly-supportive ergoComfort driver's seat.

And in the rear? Well if you're familiar with the Passat but for some reason haven't yet tried this post-2015 eighth generation version, you might be favourably impressed at the amount of space on offer in the back, enhanced by the lengthier wheelbase (it was increased by 79mm) and the extra 12mm of width that were incorporated into this 'B8'-series design. It's still difficult to comfortably an adult in the middle though, because of the height of the prominent raised centre transmission tunnel. But it's a significantly roomier than it would be in a premium-badged 'D'-segment model of this period - like for instance this car's Audi A4 close cousin.

Finally, let's consider luggage space, which with the saloon version means pushing on the boot-mounted Volkswagen badge. Once the boot is open, you'll find that it offers a very decent 586-litre capacity - though bear in mind that this falls to just 402-litres with the GTE plug-in model because of the batteries that must sit beneath the boot floor. Opt for the Estate body style that Passat buyers tend to prefer and you get 650-litres with a conventional engine or 483-litres if you buy this car in GTE plug-in form.

You can fold the rear back rests via boot roof-mounted levers. They only fold in a 60:40-split (rather than the more useful 40:20:40-split you get in a rival BMW 3 Series), but once everything's close to flat, you can potentially increase the boot space of the saloon to as much as 1,152-litres in a conventionally-engined model. The Estate model is of course more spacious still, its boot growing to 1,780-litres in size when the seat backs are retracted.

What to Look For

Our owners survey did reveal many satisfied users of this 'B8'-series model, but inevitably, there were a few issues reported. One owner reported that the auto electronic handbrake failed to disengage sometimes. Another found that the anti-collision system was automatically braking when it shouldn't do. In another case, a 2.0 TDI variant puffed blue and white smoke from its exhaust, insisting on dropping diesel into its oil sump. We came across a number of reports of cabin rattles, especially around the dash, so check for those. There's often engine vibration/resonance through dashboard at low speed. And one owner reported incessant creaking from somewhere in/around the door pillars which was markedly worse in warmer weather. He also reported some temperature-dependant creaking from the dashboard around the rev counter/speedo area. Obviously, a fully-stamped service history is vital. Otherwise, it's just the usual things. Insist on a fully stamped-up service record and check the alloys for scratches and scuffs.

Replacement Parts

[based on a 2021 model GTE PHEV auto] Parts prices for a Passat from this period can be reasonable if you shop around. We trawled around the internet and found these: An oil filter is in the £4 bracket. A pollen filter is in the £8-£27 bracket. An air filter is around £10. Front brake discs cost in the £74-£118 bracket. Rear brake discs cost in the £47-£129 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £28-£68 bracket. A set of rear pads is around £33. A headlamp is about £320. A tail lamp is in the £127-£238 bracket. A radiator is around £193. A water pump is in the £67-£151 bracket.

On the Road

Volkswagen is very good at creating a premium driving experience. It always has been with the Passat, so it was perhaps appropriate that the revised version of this eighth generation model was the first car in the company's range to showcase a whole new generation of media and active driving assist technology. The car's added 'Travel Assist' system allowed 'level 2' partially-autonomous driving at speeds of up to 130mph and the Adaptive Cruise Control system was updated to be predictive, meaning it could anticipate and adapt to road conditions before you reached them. All of which clues you up for what you're in for here. A driving experience that in every way is prioritised towards laid back comfort. Exactly as a typical Passat user would want. Refinement and ride quality are difficult to better in this class from this period - even if you stretch to a contender with a posh premium badge. The flip side of that is that no version of this car is able to offer up a really memorable handling package. Mind you, typical Passat owners would probably be mystified by why such a thing would ever be needed. For them, a model of this kind is there for the journey, not for the way it should be driven. Those who disagree and find themselves in search of a car in the mainstream part of this sector from this period will find that a Mondeo or a Mazda6 will better suit their needs.

Even if you're minded to prefer a car of that sort, it's also worth trying this one, for its other attributes are telling. On a typical British B-road, this Passat just flows beautifully. Yes, there's a touch more body roll than some rivals exhibit, but for the most part, it's expertly disguised by a supple, languid rhythm that soon has you covering ground in a quick, safe and relaxing manner, aided by accurate, if not especially feelsome, steering. Enginewise, two key changes were made to this revised model, with perhaps the most significant being the introduction of the Wolfsburg brand's EVO-series 2.0 TDI 150PS diesel engine, a unit that - when paired to the DSG 7-speed auto gearbox that most Passat buyers wanted - was capable of 55.2mpg on the WLTP cycle and up to 106g/km of NEDC-rated CO2 in a saloon model. The other key change related to the revised petrol/electric plug-in powerplant used in the GTE plug-in model, which got a larger 13kWh battery, enabling a 30% longer all-electric WLTP-rated driving range of up to 36 miles.


By 2019, for five decades, Volkswagen's Passat had been the quality choice in the medium range Mondeo segment. It was a model that for many, bridged the gap between the type of company or family car they might feel they had to drive - something like a Mondeo or an Insignia - and the BMW 3 Series-style compact executive saloon they often felt they'd really rather have.

You'll need to be prepared to pay quite a bit more than you would for an equivalent Mondeo, Insignia or Superb from this period. And if you're not buying a Passat Estate, the saloon body style is significantly less versatile than the hatch format you get with rival models. The kind of sharp handling you'd get in, say, a Mazda6 from this period - or in the premium-badged models in this sector from this era - isn't really on the agenda either.

But, in compensation, there's supple ride quality, excellent refinement, class-leadingly comfortable seats and brilliant build quality - all the things in fact that an aspiring middle management buyer with long distances to travel is likely to prioritise. This is, in every sense, a car that knows its market.

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Space
  • Styling
  • Build
  • Value
  • Equipment
  • Economy
  • Depreciation
  • Insurance
  • Total (75/110)

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  1. Emissions and efficiency data taken from official test results, where available, when new. Data shown is intended to provide a standard figure for comparing the relative fuel economy of different vehicles of a similar age and condition, and does not represent the average fuel consumption that will be achieved on the road. Actual figures will depend on factors including the age of the vehicle, how it has been maintained, road and weather conditions and driving style.