While 2014-2015 might be Volkswagen’s Year of Golf, the German automaker is still hard at work updating the European version of the Volkswagen Passat for its next-generation redesign. The next Volkswagen Passat looks to revised exterior styling, increased interior capacity, and upgraded technology to continue luring buyers.
Preliminary sketches of the next-generation Volkswagen Passat reveal a design that appears sleeker and more elegant than its predecessor. The new Passat is in fact slightly smaller in length and height, despite the fact that interior headroom, legroom, and cargo capacity are all said to increase. Consistent with the current Passat is Volkswagen’s triple-bar horizontal grille, but the front headlights are narrowed significantly to more closely resemble those of the Audi TT. Around the rear, the Passat’s taillights are streamlined and sharpened to match the units seen on the new Golf and GTI.
The Passat’s new body saves up to 187 pounds compared to the old model, which should help yield up to 20 percent better fuel efficiency, thanks to more extensive use of aluminum and high-strength steel. Another aid in that department is a new bi-turbo, 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine for the European market. At the top of the Volkswagen Passat’s new range of gas and diesel engines, the new 2.0-liter diesel is said to produce 237 hp and a hefty 368 lb-ft of torque. The bi-turbo diesel will be mated exclusively to a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive, while achieving an impressive 56.5 mpg. The current U.S.-spec Volkswagen Passat tops out at 43 mpg on the highway with its optional diesel engine and six-speed manual transmission.
The new seven-speed DSG could also be a fit for the rumored Golf R 400 hot hatch, which is in need of a heavier duty dual-clutch gearbox than the standard Golf R can offer.
Also on the docket is a plug-in hybrid Passat, which shares its powertrain with the Volkswagen GTE. The plug-in Passat can run on all-electric power for 31 miles using its 107-hp electric motor, which makes 101-hp in the GTE. A 101-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four is also on board, which helps contribute to the plug-in Passat’s roughly 600-mile operating range. Volkswagen hinted to us at the Geneva show in February that even if the GTE would not come to U.S. shores, its powertrain might appear in a North American model at a later point in time.
In addition to the improved interior dimensions, the biggest change to the next-generation Volkswagen Passat is its technology. The latest in safety technology will be available, including park assist with perpendicular parking capability, a trailer-assist feature to help drive in reverse with a trailer, emergency braking assist, pedestrian detection, and a rear traffic alert system.
Passengers will notice that the biggest visible change to the Passat is the upgraded instrument cluster taken from the new Audi TT, which consolidates all infotainment and driver information into a 12.3-inch digital modular display. LED taillights will also be standard, while LED headlights will be an available upgrade to the standard halogens.
The next-generation Volkswagen Passat will be further detailed in early July, before it debuts in both sedan and five-door wagon form at the Paris auto show in October. European deliveries are expected to begin in early 2015.
Currently, the U.S.-market Volkswagen Passat is an entirely different car from the model sold in Europe. While there are no firm announcements so far, a VW spokesman confirmed to Automobile that the American-market Passat will switch to the same "MQB" modular architecture used by this new European car previewed here. However, there could still be significant differences between the cars, and we might not see a new Passat here until sometime after the sedan appears in Europe.
Based on the announcements so far, it seems likely that a plug-in hybrid powertrain could be offered in the U.S., and the Passat’s use of an advanced diesel engine falls in line with its recent claims that it will leverage diesel technology even more in the future, meaning the U.S.-spec Volkswagen Passat should also get some sort of upgraded diesel powertrain.