VW Introduces New Passat for Europe, We Hope Ours Eventually Looks Like This

VW Introduces New Passat for Europe, We Hope Ours Eventually Looks Like This

Volkswagen’s Passat comes from humble beginnings. Indeed, for much of its life it was merely one of several choices in the mid-size sedan segment. It wasn’t particularly upscale and possessed just average build quality. This changed in the mid-1990s with the B5 generation, which was engineered under Ferdinand Piëch and designed with major influence from Peter Schreyer (now of Hyundai/Kia).

The B5 was hugely successful and recast the Passat as a truly premium offering; it was eventually topped off with a W-8 variation. The next two iterations took shuffle steps back toward the mainstream, but now the Passat is movin’ back up with a vengeance. Well, in Europe at least, where the B8 aims to fend off attacks from luxury makers and their newly downsized models with high tech and zooty styling. We won’t see this version here.

Based on the brand’s weight-saving and flexible MQB architecture, the new Passat is lighter than its predecessor by up to 187 pounds, and it is extremely well packaged. Even though it is slightly shorter and lower than before—and smaller still than our Passat, which is unrelated and swims farther downmarket—it offers significantly more interior space, including headroom. Drawing from the corporate parts bin for the car’s architecture saved money that VW then fed back into feature content, including a large range of assistance systems.

2015 Volkswagen Passat sedan (Euro-spec)

Most of these items are optional, and include a 360-degree overhead-view camera system, automatic parking (including spots at 90 degrees), Emergency Assist (which can monitor the driver for a lack of input, try to wake him up, and bring the car to a safe and complete stop), stop-and-go automatic cruise control, pedestrian detection, a head-up display, fully digital screen-based instrumentation, and connectivity options that include real-time fuel prices. There’s also a trailer-assist function—Europeans actually tow with stuff like this—that allows even amateurs to reverse accurately.

The dirty bits are impressive, too, particularly the powertrains. A 240-hp 2.0-liter four tops the diesel engine portfolio, while the strongest gasoline engine is a 2.0-liter TSI four that pumps out 280 horsepower. “That’s enough for now,” says VW R&D chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser, hinting at more powerful options to come. A turbocharged 3.0-liter VR6 is still in the cards, and VW could yet squeeze more power from the 2.0-liter engines. A plug-in hybrid model is also available, combining a 156-hp gas engine with a 109-hp electric motor to the tune of 211 total system horsepower. VW says it has an all-electric range of 31 miles.

This latest Passat lays a stylistic smackdown on the outgoing car, which was essentially a thorough facelift of the B6. The new look is defined by subtle creases, pronounced shoulders, and a semi-futuristic front fascia. Xenon headlamps are no longer on offer; the Passat comes with halogens or LEDs. Especially clever is the upmarket version of the LED taillight; when the driver brakes, the lighting signature switches from horizontal to vertical, drawing more attention to the slowing Passat.

Inside, the car has been lined with higher-quality materials, and we really like the seamless blending of the air vents into the dashboard trim. It’s a styling element that recalls some American cars of the 1960s, and is a pleasantly surprising retro touch.

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Deliveries of the new Passat will start this fall in Europe at prices similar to those of the last one. Both sedan and wagon body styles are available. We expect VW to also spin off a new-generation CC, and China will get a stretched version of this new Passat. As for the U.S., we’ll eventually get—if not this car—a version that incorporates many of its styling cues and gadgets, including the same MQB bones. That would replace the current U.S.-market Passat currently being assembled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but not for a few years: Our Passat is due for a mid-cycle update for 2016.

VW Introduces New Passat for Europe, We Hope Ours Eventually Looks Like This

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