WOULDN’T it be great to never worry about breaking a speed limit.
Some way of automatically slowing as soon as a speed sign is sighted. Formula 1 cars can be slowed to the pit lane limit at the touch of a button so can anyone take it a stage further?
Volkswagen seem to have come up with the answer on the new Passat. As part of a host of technology updates VW has broadened the scope of the Travel Assist package to automatically slow the car to the speed limit using GPS and traffic sign recognition. It can even slow the car for junctions and corners although the driver can override the system at any time.
We are into the eighth generation of Passat, which is the longest running name plate dating back to 1973, and having had a major overhaul in 2014 there is nothing much else to be done so VW is concentrating on more sophisticated technology and better connectivity for this facelift.
As well as reducing speed the automated driving mode has been refined and will now provide lane assist and cruise control up to 130mph and recognise kerbs and grass verges in addition to road markings.
Passat has always lived in its little oasis, slightly more up market than the more mainstream Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia but not plush enough to join the premium set. Nevertheless the cabin has a classy finish although it does look a bit dated compared to some rivals particularly the Peugeot 508.
That is why it is worth paying extra for the digital cockpit which is a 11.7in screen ahead of the driver and has an interchangeable display for sat nav mapping and other driver information.
There is also an 8in central touchscreen which has lightening quick responses and sharp graphics. There is no rotary controller to navigate the functions but the quick keys around the side have always been a good substitute.
The best selling Passat has always been the estate and that is the way it will stay mainly because the saloon does not offer the same flexibility as a hatchback. It is one of the most space efficient with 650-1780 litres maximum and is only beaten by its Skoda Superb cousin.
Passat is also bucking the trend to switch to petrol, not so surprising when the bulk of its sales go to the fleet, and there is a good spread of power options with a 1.6 litre entry and three 2-litre engines.
My pick is the new 150bhp 2-litre Evo, so named because it shuts down two of the four cylinders when cruising to save fuel. What’s more it has a satisfying amount of mid range pick up and a potential 70mpg.
If petrol is your preference then there are two 2-litre and an excellent 150bhp 1.5 litre which is strong enough to meet most drivers’ needs and capable of topping 50mpg.
Volkswagen thinks petrol sales will be matched by the GTE plug in hybrid. This pairs a 1.4 litre petrol with an electric motor to produce 214bhp so performance is brisk with a sprint to 62mph taking a credible 7.6 seconds.
Battery capacity has been increased by 30 per cent helping the GTE achieve up to 43 miles on electric power so if your commute is mainly urban you could be in the pound seat while official economy figures are around 170mpg. It is environmentally friendly with emissions no higher than 39g/km so road tax for the first year is £10.
The GTE price has come down by £2,300, no doubt because the Government grant on plug-in hybrids has gone, but with a price of £36,390 (£37,920 estate) drivers need to crunch the numbers to make sure it is the best option.
The 1.5 TSI SE saloon opens the bidding at £25,370 (£27,185 estate) with diesel starting with the 1.6 litre SE at £27,630 (£29,485 estate).