The fact that Volkswagen initially presented the new Passat R36 at the Essen Motor Show tells us one thing - it isn't planned for the U.S. market. That's a shame, because this is the quickest Volkswagen ever, accelerating to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds, according to its maker. We like quick.
The Passat R36 will be available as a sedan or wagon, and naturally we'd order the ultra-cool wagon, even if it is 0.2 seconds slower to 62. Either has a 300-horsepower version of the 3.6-liter narrow-angle six-cylinder, which is twenty more than it makes in the standard Passat 3.6. The R36 comes standard with VW's exclusive DSG twin-clutch transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive, and is available in the same Deep Blue Pearl paint that made its debut on the GTI-based R32.
The R36 receives an exterior makeover with R-specific bumpers, darkened LED taillights, bi-xenon headlights, a rear spoiler, matte-chrome exclusive front grille, chrome side accents, and body-colored side skirts and fender flares. R36-exclusive eighteen-inch "Omanyt" wheels carry 235/40-18 tires, and the rear end is punctuated with twin chrome exhaust tips.
Inside, the instrument cluster, now lit in white instead of blue and red, is visible through an R steering wheel, the shift lever is alumized, and the "Engine Spin" R logo is repeated on the aluminum pedals and front door thresholds. Heated sports seats are fitted all-around, with the fronts 12-way electrically adjustable.
With no mention of any suspension or brake upgrades, the R36 is more of an appearance package than anything. This comes as a bit of a surprise, since the R32 was such a thoroughly integrated package built upon the GTI.