While we were chatting with VW of America CEO Stefan Jacoby in Wolfsburg, Germany, the subject of its new 'Merican-built car came up. The so-called NMS or New Midsize Sedan will replace the Passat in the US VW lineup. This model will be unique to the North American market, which brought up a question about the last "Americanized" VW.
For those not old enough to remember, Volkswagen opened a factory in Westmoreland county Pennsylvania in 1978 and closed it a decade later. When the plant started building the Rabbit (aka MK 1 Golf) VW's home office modified the Rabbit to make it "more appealing" to American buyers. That meant giving it rectangular headlights and making it softer and losing much of the German character that made it fun to drive.
Jacoby promises that won't happen this time around. Instead, the process of adaption will involve growing the sedan to bring it on par with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The current Passat is considered to be just a bit too small inside by comparison. What won't change is the tight suspension setup and styling consistent with other contemporary VWs.
The current Passat is also pricey compared to its primary segment competitors. This is one of the main reasons the new car will be built Stateside. VW is currently sourcing parts and systems from US located suppliers which should bring down the cost basis of the new model by taking exchange rates out of the equation.