Volkswagen is slowly in the process of refreshing its entire product portfolio, and right on the heels of the recently introduced 2011 Jetta comes the seventh-generation Passat. The automaker's new corporate design language is in full force here, and observations of the new Passat looking like a big Jetta will not be disagreed with.
A full range of gasoline and diesel engines will be available when the Passat launches later this year. In North America, it's safe to assume that we'll receive the 207-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder as well as the 296-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, but we won't rule out the possibility of Volkswagen offering its well-liked 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine, as well. All engines can be mated to either a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and like previous Passats, 4Motion all-wheel drive should be available on top-end models.
The Passat will also be available with Volkswagen's XDS electronic differential, which first debuted on the GTI hatch. This system helps reduce understeer and improve overall traction in slippery conditions, and we imagine that it will quickly make its way to the vast majority of VW products. What's more, a new optional city emergency braking function automatically stops the car at speeds below 18 miles per hour when an imminent collision is detected, sort of like the self-stopping systems by Volvo (which, as we've seen, don't always work correctly).
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Following over 15 million sales in 37 years across 100 countries around the world Volkswagen has unveiled the seventh generation of the Passat at the Paris Motor Show. Establishing benchmarks in quality, design, economy and comfort the new Passat is not only the most advanced iteration yet but also the most efficient.
A completely new look styled by Klaus Bischoff (head of design, Volkswagen) and Walter de Silva (head of design, Volkswagen Group) establishes a fresh direction for the Passat saloon and Estate with clean surfaces and an elegant yet imposing stance. The front of the car, dominated by a new grille element with prominent horizontal chrome fins, features striking heavily contoured headlight units, set into which are LED running lights. At the rear a set of distinctive tail lights is joined by subtle chrome highlights that extend down the side of the car. Every body panel apart from the roof is new.
Measuring 4,769 mm in length (Estate 4,771 mm) the new Passat is marginally longer than the car it replaces (+4 mm) and at 1,820 mm wide and 1,474 mm tall (Estate 1,519 mm) it retains the same proportions.
The fresh look continues inside the seventh generation Passat with new seats that can be specified to both heat and cool their occupants and even feature a massage function for the driver and front seat passenger. A revised dashboard with new dials, trim finishes and an analogue clock are joined by subtle chrome inserts and the option of ambience lighting similar to that found in the Phaeton. The centre console has also been uprated with revisions to the minor controls as well as new door trims.
Powering the new Passat is a range of advanced and highly efficient petrol and diesel engines. The petrol line-up comprises a 1.4-litre TSI engine developing 122 PS, a 1.8-litre TSI unit with 160 PS, a 2.0-litre TSI 210 PS engine and a range-topping 3.6-litre V6 producing 300 PS.
The refined and frugal diesel range starts with the most efficient engine, the 1.6-litre TDI unit producing 105 PS. Equipped with this engine and the BlueMotion package of changes including aerodynamic modifications, Stop/Start and battery regeneration, the new Passat can achieve a combined 68.8 mpg while emitting just 109 g/km of CO2. This equates to a theoretical range of over 1,000 miles on a single tank of diesel. Joining the 1.6-litre TDI is a 2.0-litre TDI engine available in two power outputs – 140 PS and 170 PS. Each of the engine ranges can be specified with a choice of manual or DSG gearboxes.
The new Passat is available with many new safety and comfort technologies previously only seen in the Touareg and Phaeton luxury models.
The optional new City emergency braking function, a part of the Automatic Distance Control (ADC) system, automatically engages the brakes at speeds below 18 mph should an unavoidable collision be sensed by the vehicle. The system is also able to accelerate the vehicle automatically should it detect an imminent rear end collision providing the vehicle sees a clear space ahead.
In addition, the new Passat can be fitted with an automatic fatigue detection system that monitors the driver's inputs and automatically emits an audible and visual warning to recommend a break if required.
As with previous Passat models, the Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) incorporates Trailer Stabilisation when a factory fitted towbar is specified.
Promising enhanced dynamics, the new Passat can be specified with the acclaimed XDS electronic transverse differential for the first time. The system, which is standard on the Golf GTI, acts to reduce understeer and improve traction in slippery conditions making the new Passat feel more responsive as a result.
Other new optional convenience systems include an innovative boot opening system for the saloon model: on vehicles specified with keyless entry, so long as you're carrying the key fob on your person a simple foot motion at the back of the car is enough to activate sensors that open the boot automatically – a useful function when your hands are full.
Both the saloon and Estate models are due to go on sale in the UK around the middle of October at which time pricing and specification details will be announced. First customer deliveries will take place in early January 2011.