It must be strange being a designer at Volkswagen these days. Every stylists brief must be to “make it look like its predecessor”, and to give the guys credit, they are incredibly good at it! Take the Golf for example: despite the Mark 7 Golf being all-new under the skin, you need to look closely to spot the differences between that and the Mark 6. Not until you see both generations side by side do you realise that the stylists have subtly managed to sharpen and enhance the image of the car whilst keeping the previous shape and features. Similarly, the latest generation Polo shares most of its styling cues with its predecessor.
Now Volkswagen are on course to repeat the trend with the eighth-generation Passat, unveiled at a ceremony at the Volkswagen Design Centre in Potsdam, Germany, this week. The current model was already an impressively stylish upper-medium segment saloon and estate, and the new car builds on this whilst remaining distinctively a Passat. As with the Golf Mark 7, the new Passat is based on Volkswagens acclaimed MQB platform. Despite the close visual similarity to the current Passat, the new car differs quite significantly dimensionally. Shorter than the present car, albeit only by 2mm, the wheelbase is however 79mm longer, freeing up more space inside the car for passengers & luggage. The bonnet line is also significantly lower than at present due to what Volkswagen describe as “optimised engine orientation”.
As with most new models, the new car packs an impressive technological punch, with new technologies including the optional Active Info Display, which replaces the instrument cluster with a fully configurable interactive 12.3-inch TFT display; a head-up display; the latest Modular Infotainment System, including the Car-Net remote app; a further-developed 360-degree Area View function; and the latest generation of Park Assist. This newly developed Park Assist includes the option for the car to park itself forwards into perpendicular spaces – useful, for example at supermarket car parks, where access to the boot is important. It also includes a world-first Trailer Assist system, which provides assistance when reversing a vehicle with a trailer attached – without the need for any modification or adaptation of the trailer.
Safety technology includes Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert; Traffic Jam Assist which makes stop-and-go driving more comfortable; Emergency Assist, which can potentially halt a vehicle when the driver is incapacitated; and the latest Front Assist system with City Emergency Braking, which optionally combines both radar and camera sensors to add pedestrian detection.
Fuel economy is claimed to have been improved by up to 20 per cent, not least due to a reduction in weight of up to 85kg. A highlight of the Passat’s new range of engines is a high-performance, four-cylinder, 2.0-litre, bi-turbo diesel delivering 240 PS and an extraordinary 500 Nm from 1,750 rpm. This engine will be available only with a new seven-speed DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid model will also be offered, with potential to travel 31 miles on battery power alone, and with a maximum range of around 600 miles.
The latest car will receive its public premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October. Further details and UK pricing are expected to be announced at the time of the Paris Motor Show in October. UK sales will start before the end of the year, with first deliveries expected in early 2015.