Last year’s class winner drops to second in the 1700-1899kg class, but the Volkswagen Passat Estate 4Motion runs the Land Rover Discovery Sport extremely close.
In terms of acceleration, the Passat has a clear advantage. The biturbo engine is exceptionally strong, with 369lb ft of torque. That’s enough muscle for a 30-60mph time of 8.2 seconds, making the 4Motion one of the quickest cars in this year’s tests.
However, use all that performance and the engine is noisy, significantly more so than the Land Rover’s engine.
For the most part, stability is extremely good. Our test drivers were happy at 70mph in still air, although in breezy weather the VW moved around a little more than the Discovery Sport. However, the lane-change test showed the Passat at its very best, sticking securely to the track even as the caravan moved around behind it.
The hill-start test was easy, too. The electronic parking brake held the outfit securely, and the torquey engine needed few revs to pull to the top of the slope.
Our practicality testers were as impressed as the drivers. There’s an enormous amount of luggage space, noticeably more than in the Ford Mondeo Estate, for example. A neat towball installation, useful reversing camera and the standard fitment of trailer stability control are further plus points.