Detroit 2011: Volkswagen’s New Midsize Sedan is the 2012 Passat

2012-volkswagen-passat-front-three-quarter-view

We’ve been hearing about Volkswagen’s New Midsize Sedan for some time now and how the company developed it specifically for the U.S. market. We learned last night that the much-touted NMS is actually a Passat and got our first look at the sedan in person today at the 2011 Detroit auto show.

Although the NMS is retaining the Passat moniker, it is indeed quite different from the European Passat. Rather than the scaled-down Phaeton Europeans get, the U.S.-spec model is more of a scaled-up Jetta. Like the Jetta, which VW developed with Americans’ tastes in mind as well, the U.S.-spec Passat grows substantially -- it’s almost four inches longer than its current European sibling introduced at the Paris Motor Show. Design differentiators include new headlights and a completely different car behind the B-pillars. This includes new rear doors and a new rear fascia with crisp, clean lines reminiscent of Audi styling.

Contrary to the new Passat’s substantial growth, its starting price will actually shrink substantially in order to better compete with the midsize segment’s heavy hitters. Final pricing has yet to be announced, but the new Passat is expected to start somewhere around $20,000 instead of almost $30,000.

Judging by the substantial drop in price, one would expect interior material quality to drop accordingly. The materials -- with soft-touch door panels and dashboard -- are all up to par for its class. The controls are all laid in a logical, Germanic fashion, and have an elegant, upscale look. Tasteful chrome accents highlight the interior along with a variety of dashboard trims -- from a titanium-look “Titan” material in the base car to a so-called Autumn Nut Burl wood in the top-of-the-line SEL.

Powertrains, like the rest of the car, have been oriented to “meet the needs of customers in that segment” according to Toscan Bennett, vice president of VW’s president for marketing and strategy. We’d be remiss not to say that the base engine is now VW’s 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter I-5 rather than the 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 of the outgoing car. The I-5 can be mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Next up is VW’s 3.6-liter, VR6 engine that puts out 280 horsepower. This is mated solely to a six-speed dual-clutch. The big surprise though, is the announcement that the diesel Passat will return. Passat TDI models will use VW’s 2.0-liter, turbo-diesel I-4. With this engine, the Passat will achieve 43 mpg on the highway, but its 140 horsepower may leave you wanting for power.

adamlink
The new Passat looks like a fine automobile. It's amazing how people allow their bias to override the evidence. Even when the writer of the review-- who has actually seen the car in person-- says the interior quality has NOT, repeat NOT, been cheapened, people who haven't even seen it yet stubbornly persist in claiming it has. VW interiors, like all car interiors, have pluses & minuses, but the key is how they're treated by their owners. If you treat a VW right it will stay looking good for a long time. However, people tend to treat higher dollar cars (like an Opel) a little better. I'm looking forward to seeing & driving this car this fall.
Jon Council
Steve, please get a grip...okay? Look, Americans had better wake up and smell the coffee soon...because if we don't, one day you'll wake up and you''ll get it right smack in the face were you can't miss it. More! More! More! Tell me, how much horsepower is enough? You won't be happy until a family car for the masses is performing like a 'vette? A Porsche? VW is trying to keep the price down so that ordinary people can afford the car with decent performance. Not to mention fuel economy. Maybe it escaped your notice, but America and the world are headed for an economic collapse sparked by the current dollar crisis. This means massive future inflation, with wages that will NOT be made to keep up. That said, you best reign in your expectations on what VW is going to spend it's money on to offer you...only for you to more than likely have to give it back when the world economy implodes. That is, if you insist on buying a new car in the midst of this economy.
STEVE
I DONT THINK WE AMERICANS HAT VW ! WE AMERICANS CANT FIGURE OUT WHY WE GET THE FRIKEN WORST ENGINES THEY MAKE HERE! (I5, 2.0) ALL THESES ENGINES HAVE NO POWER IF VW WANTS SOME FEED BACK THEN THEY BETTER LISTEN 2.0T AS THE BASE ENGINE, 2.0TFSI AS THE OPTIONAL ENGINE THEN THE V6 THATS ALL WE ARE SAYING, BUT THEIR NOT GETTING IT! SO LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE I WONT BUY A VW TILL IT HAPPENS!
pclvVW0418
Had 2 Jettas so far. One 01 and currently 06. The 01 never had any issues with the Interior. The 06 ive had 2 years now and the interior is great, dust magnet but great. Wondering what the hell you all do to your interiors? I clean mine and dust it constantly and nothing peels or cracks. Even the radio controls theres no wear showing. Not like previous cars I have seen and owned from various other manufactures.
Guest
"Auto Bild" one of the largest German car-magazines made long-term tests at the same time with both, an Opel Astra and a VW Golf. Both vehicles had been driven by the same editorial staff. Whereas the Opel's interior looked brandnew even after 125'000 miles, the interior of the Volkswagen had shown significant wear, e.g. plastic surfaces have been peeling off and a part of the shifter has been falling off! This is about facts and has nothing to do with hate. We even witnessed this ourselves at a VW New Beetle from a former co-worker. BTW, if VW actually delivers such outstanding quality, as you suggest, why does this brand repeatedly perform so lousy at JD Power's dependability ratings and why do I know more VW-Owners, complaining about defects, than those, who praise it? Best regards from Germany.
Ken
If it drives like a German car and can be had in 4Motion with TDI for 26K, I'll trade in my aging 328xi and get one. Until then, its just another front driver that has nothing to offer over an Accord.
Guest
Why does everyone hate VW? There is nothing wrong with this new car and my 5 year old jetta still looks like it just came off the lot. I think VW is just trying to appeal to more people, and I think there doing a great job!
Douge
Becky, "Why didn’t we get the european version which is beautiful?" Have you looked at the 2011 European Passat? Check this link: http://rumors.automobilemag.com/paris-2010-new-volkswagen-passat-arrives-4571.html, then describe the vast differences between these two cars. The new European Passat has been described as staid, but upgraded to a mini-Phaeton in terms of luxury quality. This for a $30,000-$45,000 car. Whereas, a $20,000-$30,000 near doppelganger (had to use the German term) version of the same car is described as cheapened and Americanized. I am not saying this as a VW-fanboy, but as someone trying to trying to figure out why people are looking at two shades of beige as so different!
Jonathan
Well said Becky "Pass That" is it's new name! It's CHEAP, it's trying to be American and NOT, it's NOT a VW (i.e. german engineered and made to EU specs) at least to a loyal driver. VW have a particular image and identity and the new management a killing it (e.g. the new Beetle will look like someone sat on the roof, the audi TT went from classic to a package for increased sales volume). Let's us VW fans HOPE that the Jetta GLI and CC do not meet the same CHEAP DEATH!
Edward
Such a disappointment. The European Passat is a much more desirable car than the U.S. version shown here. The U.S. market does not need another boring family sedan. It's amazing VW couldn't even offer the 2.0L turbo as a base engine. What a waste of time and resources, VW would have been better off adding a third seatbelt to the rear bench of the CC and marketing it as the new Passat.
Becky
The new name is "Pass That" because I will not be replacing my 2006 Passat for this "cheapened, americanized version". Why didn't we get the european version which is beautiful?
Keith
I agree the front does look like the Accord, which is one ugly car, I guess next year they will copy the crosstour, or maybe hire the design staff away from Acura to make a real beast.
Jon
Dissapointing that VW is building larger, dumber cars to fit that North American niche. The last generation Jetta was bang-on and now they scripped it down, enlarged the car and it's become a Ford Taurus contemporary. My VW will likely be my last - time to look around. Too bad.
Daye
The headlights look like the current Accord and the grill looks like something from the 80s. The Sonata is going to eat this car alive.
Guest
"The materials — with soft-touch door panels and dashboard — are all up to par for its class..." Hint: Look at these materials in about 3 or 4 years after purchase. Based on the long-time experiences with interior surfaces of other VW-Models you may be unpleasantly surprised then. I think we are nothing seeing here, what should scare Volkswagen's main competitors on the US-Market.

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