Who says you can’t have your motoring cake and eat it? Volkswagen clearly thinks you can.
The plug-in hybrid version of the eighth-generation Passat uses both a turbocharged petrol engine of just 1.4 litres and a powerful electric motor to serve up some tasty statistics.
First you get a car that will potentially run for about 30 miles on pure electric power and second, if driven carefully, you have the potential to cover more than 600 miles on a single tank of fuel.
But the GTE badge that adorns the front-wheel-drive car is there for a reason, as the mix of the two power units delivers a tingling 218 horsepower and the capability to whisk the estate from 0 to 62mph in under eight seconds.
It is now the only petrol-powered Passat. As less than one per cent of sales of the previous generation Passat were petrol-powered, VW has switched every other version to diesel.
You can distinguish the GTE from others in the seven-model range by a blue strip extending across the radiator grille into the LED headlights. The blue theme continues with GTE badging on the grille, front side panels and rear tailgate, and distinctive ‘C’ signature LED daytime running lights.
Life behind the GTE’s control-covered steering wheel is sporty and engaging, though a slightly different experience from the diesel. For starters, the car always switches on silently in all-electric mode, but the difference from the diesel is most pronounced when decelerating. The technical explanation involves Volkswagen’s development of a device especially for its electric cars that gently slows the car solely through the electric motor's braking torque, recovering energy and storing it in the battery. Stronger deceleration, meanwhile, is achieved through joint braking from the electric motor and the hydraulic brake system.
The GTE, fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox, has a choice of four driving modes, including e-mode, hybrid, battery charge and maximum power GTE.
The advanced technology under the bonnet is more than matched by a range of safety systems and the level of equipment inside the beautifully crafted, leather-trimmed and climate-controlled cabin.
In front of you sits a large digital screen whose instrumentation display can be tailored to suit your preference and allows important driving data to be pulled up directly within your field of view.
In the centre of the dashboard, another iPad Mini-sized display screen delivers everything from satellite navigation to energy flow displays, while an ‘e-manager’ allows pre-programmed cooling or heating of the interior so no more windscreen scraping is needed in winter.
The test car also came with ‘Area View’ allowing you to select camera views from the front, rear, side or bird’s-eye view, on either full or split-screen, to help you manoeuvre more easily.
In addition a smartphone app allows you to remotely control charging and view information about driving characteristics, average speed and journey time; tell you if the lights are still on and the doors locked, and even give you your last parking position.
This technology-led blend of zero-emission travel and whopping power comes at a hefty price, but it is a delicious combination.
Model: Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE Advance
Price: £39,480 (inc £2,500 gov grant)
Insurance group: 26E (1-50)
Fuel consumption (combined): 166mpg
Top speed: 140mph
Luggage capacity: 17 cu ft
Fuel tank capacity: 11 gallons/50 litres
CO2 emissions: 39g/km
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles