First drive: Volkswagen Passat

Nic Cackett

The Volkswagen Passat is not a glamorous car. Nor is it sporty or good looking. Or exciting or even particularly cheap. What it is is a safe, dependable, utterly inoffensive way of racking up motorway miles without ever standing out. A business commuter. A family workhorse.

That description is not meant as a criticism. Volkswagen, the undisputed master of middle-class market domination, has shifted 15 million Passats on the basis of this sturdy reputation since the car was launched in 1973.