The four-wheel-drive version of the Volkswagen Passat Estate makes towing seem easy. Whether your priority is pace, stability or practicality, the Passat has the lot.

The 2.0 BiTDI engine delivers the punch of a heavyweight boxer. With 237bhp and 369lb ft of torque, the Passat accelerates so quickly you’d think the caravan had an engine, too. It took just 8.8 seconds to pull from 30-60mph.

Four-wheel drive plus plenty of power and an electronic parking brake adds up to effortless hill starts. The VW eased to the top of the 1-in-6 slope and felt comfortable reversing uphill, too.

If the performance of the engine makes the strongest impression, it’s the Passat’s stability that really matters. When slowing from high speeds, the Al-Ko ATC sensors picked up no instability from the caravan, and even at speeds which would have you pulled over on a British motorway, the VW Passat remained secure.

Some cars feel solid at speed, but lose composure in the emergency lane-change. Not the Passat, which seemed just as competent swerving hard as driving a straight road at a steady 60mph.

Without a caravan behind it, the Passat BiTDI is very quick indeed. It’s also comfortable and easy to live with. It’s a shame the engine isn’t quieter under hard acceleration, but otherwise this is an urbane and refined car.

There’s plenty of space inside, too, so adults can be comfortable whether they are sat in the front or the back. The Passat also has a huge boot: our practicality testers found space for every item of holiday luggage with room to spare. More points were scored by the car’s trailer stability system, which helps prevent snaking. It’s also worth noting that the Passat is a available with the Trailer Assist feature (a £470 option), which steers the car automatically when reversing a caravan.

The price tag of over £36k is a lot to pay for a Passat, but the official combined figure of 52.3mpg suggests fuel bills should be affordable for such a powerful car. Besides, some things are worth paying for.

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