Volkswagen has revealed all-new versions of the Passat, described by CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn as “Europe’s most successful company car,” ahead of their first public airing at the Paris Motor Show this autumn.
The two cars will go on sale in the UK simultaneously on October 7, with deliveries beginning in January 2015. Prices are likely to start at around £22,000 – £1,000 higher than those for the present model. A new version of the Passat CC four-door coupe is expected to follow 18 months later.
The promotional slogan for the next Passat is New Business Class, a reference to the importance of the fleet market to its sales performance in Europe and to its uprated quality, technology and content.
The new car is the third model based on VW’s highly flexible MQB assembly system, following the latest Golf and Polo.
It is a little longer, lower and wider than the previous model, but provides more head, leg and luggage space.
The 1.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines available at launch are up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient, aided by an 85kg reduction in the car’s overall weight. A plug-in hybrid e-Passat will be added in time, giving the car a theoretical range of more than 600 miles and the ability to travel up to 31 miles on battery power alone.
VW says the new Passat will be available with advanced safety systems and greater levels of connectivity. “Cars and computers are amalgamating more and more,” says Winterkorn.
One of its novelties is a self-parking system that also works when a trailer is attached. There is also an Active Info Display which provides information to the driver graphically through the instrument display to reduce distractions. A retractable head-up display will also be on offer.
The Passat is VW’s third-best seller globally, and also in the UK when all body styles are taken into account. The company sells 1.1 million a year, mainly in China, Europe and America, although Russia and Turkey are also becoming important markets. UK sales currently run at a combined 23,000 a year.
The Chinese and American versions differ from the European model, and that will continue with the newcomer, although in time they are also expected to adopt the MQB platform. China will again have a longer-wheelbase car for the chauffeur market.
The Passat story began in 1973 with a model sold in the UK only as a three-door hatchback powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine. The new version is the eighth in the series.