Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen might have pulled the plug on a next-generation North American Passat, but the car is still selling well in other markets around the world. Those markets are set to get Volkswagen's most advanced and efficient Passat, revealed today at the Paris Motor Show.

The first thing you notice about the new Passat is that it's the latest Volkswagen to adopt design chief Walter de'Silva's new familial styling. Similar to the new Phaeton, the new Passat sports an angular front fascia and slatted four-bar grille flanked by angular headlights with incorporated LED daytime running lights. A neat styling touch, the LEDs lead up the headlight and create a character line that flows all the way back to the taillights where it meets another string of LEDs. A second character line connects the front and rear fenders, accented by a chrome strip just below.

De'Silva also redesigned the rear fascia, adopting new taillights and a more angular rear fascia, with new chrome accents on the rear bumper and trunk. The changes are certainly thorough; VW claims that each body panel, save the roof, is new. The car's dimensions, however, are nearly identical to those of the outgoing Passat.

The revised interior features upgraded materials and options, highlighted by a new, two-tiered dashboard, and centrally mounted analog clock. The gauge cluster and center console, as well as the steering wheel controls, have also been redesigned.

Like before, the Passat will be available with a range of gas and diesel engines. Gasoline engine options include 1.4-, 1.8-, and 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4s that produce 122, 160, and 210 horsepower respectively. A 2.0-liter, turbo-diesel I-4 is available in 140- and 170-horespower configurations as well, but the most efficient engine is a 1.6-liter, turbo-diesel I-4 capable of getting 58 mpg combined on the Euro cycle when equipped with the BlueMotion package. BlueMotion includes stop-start, regenerative braking, and several aerodynamic changes. The range-topping engine is a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6. Each engine can be equipped with either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Power is once again transmitted through the front wheels, but Volkswagen made its XDS electronic differential -- standard on the GTI -- available on the Passat for the first time. The system uses the car's brakes to create the feeling of a limited-slip differential, slowing the inside wheel going around a turn to reduce understeer and create more neutral handling.

In addition to the trick electronic differential, VW gave the Passat new safety features found on the Phaeton and Touareg. One feature is the optional city emergency braking function, which is part of the Automatic Distance Control system. It helps to mitigate the chance of a collision by applying the vehicle's brakes below 18 mph, and can accelerate the vehicle should it detect a rear-end collision. Another new safety feature for the Passat is fatigue detection that which senses the driver's inputs and recommends driving break when necessary.

Volkswagen does not currently have plans to bring the new Passat to the U.S., replacing it instead with the upcoming New Midsize Sedan. For markets where the Passat is still sold, the new, seventh-generation model should make its way to dealerships in both sedan and wagon forms in mid-October.

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