Even for a conservative company like Volkswagen, which occasionally allows itself a flirtation with a wild side in the form of GTI models and the Scirocco coupe, the Passat saloon has been a consistently restrained car. It has long been an aspirational mile-munching cruiser, a sort of posh Mondeo-sized car.
It is a successful and important product for the German manufacturer though, a strong brand in its own right amongst the many iconic names that Volkswagen is able to put on its cars. The pressure to create a successful car is on, then, and Volkswagen has been particularly muted in ringing in the changes.
In many ways, the newest Passat is more of a thorough refresh of the previous-generation car rather than a completely new model. The Passat has had the latest version of the Volkswagen family face grafted onto the front and gained some sharper lines on its flanks but remains essentially the same recognisable car.
That theme continues inside, with a recognisable interior that is made of better quality materials than before. Clearly VW's motto has been 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', and it has seen that out faithfully. The result is a solid, luxurious car - Volkswagen's build quality is peerless at this level of the market and the Passat is one of the most refined cars in its class.
Every last detail has been considered when it comes to refinement - there is even an acoustic film that has been applied to the windscreen in order to deaden sound. The cabin is a hushed place to be, even at speed, and the pliant suspension only adds to the feeling of relaxed calm.
The other thing that encourages you to be relaxed is the lifeless steering. The Passat will happily devour many miles on the motorway, though, and you will arrive at your destination feeling refreshed. You'll be able to take plenty of luggage with you in the sizeable boots that are to be found in both saloon and estate versions, and there is plenty of room front and rear for passengers.
The version of the 2.0-litre diesel putting out 166bhp is the engine to go for, although the 1.6-litre diesel offering 65mpg and the 1.8-litre TSI petrol also deserve honourable mentions. All in, the Passat is a very refined car and a sensible choice.