The Volkswagen Passat just keeps getting better and better. The latest Passat sets the standard for the upper medium sector and is the car that its competitors must measure themselves against.

There is no doubt that the exterior design is evolving into something pleasing on the eye. To be frank, it used to be a little staid and conservative, but now it is bigger and has much better looks, with a solid and dignified road presence. With a deep grille, sleek profile and stand-out trim details it is also far more distinctive. And in the estate you also get bags of room with a load area that can only be described as cavernous.

You only have to get in the car to realise that this Passat is all about understated refinement and quality.

That’s not to mention performance. I test drove the excellent 150 horsepower 2.0 diesel powered version which has all the grunt you need while being quiet and economical. Its penny-pinching fuel consumption is helped by a slick, six speed manual gearbox.

The smooth and refined engine –one of the best diesels on the market for my money – lacks for nothing and delivers power pleasantly. All engines in the Passat range are diesel-powered. This is an enjoyable engine to work, and it can still return nearly 69 mpg in mixed driving.

Handling is excellent and the car feels rigid and stable even when being pushed hard around corners. There’s no sign at all of the booming vibration you sometimes get in an estate car. Road holding is sure footed and the ride is comfortable in the extreme. The latest version is lighter than its predecessor and feels more agile for that. Adaptive cruise control is standard on this specification.

Inside, the car is roomy and well laid out, with extremely comfortable, easy to adjust six-way adjustable powered driver’s seat. My test car had black seats and black trim, making it feel a little functional and austere despite the stainless steel inserts, but that apart there has been a lot of attention to detail, with well positioned grab handles, a centre driver’s armrest and controls which fall easily to hand, including a neat, push button automatic park brake and a useful hill hold function.

The load-space is huge. There’s a tailgate which opens fully and a low sill to make loading easier. Boot space can be increased with the split rear seats folded forward.

Standard features includes very nice 17” alloys, although my test car had 18” anthracite alloys (£665). You also get a steel space-saver spare wheel, ABS with electronic brake pressure distribution, electronic stability control, keyless entry and ignition, a stop/start function, air conditioning, all round electric windows electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, steering wheel-mounted controls, touch-screen satnav with DAB radio, automatic lights and rain-sensing wipers. My test car also had area view cameras (£755), three-way climate control (£590) heated steering wheel ((£135), dynamic chassis control (£700) and electronic diff-lock(£185).

This is a thoughtfully put together package. It looks great and will give you comfortable and effortless business travelling. And it’s not bad value at £26,040 on the road.

Motoring Reviews are bought to you courtesy of Midlands Business News and its Motoring Editor Ian Strachan of Ian Strachan Communications