30 May 2014

Volkswagen Reveals Next Passat

Rewind back to late 2012 and early 2013, a winter dragging on the coat-tails of the Olympic Games in London. A certain excitement was in the air, incited by German car brand Volkswagen. The release of the seventh generation Golf was certainly huge news in the motoring world. So big was the hype surrounding it that this writer donated his own MK3 for a launch ceremony where all previous generations of Golf were celebrated. Back to the present though, and Volkswagen are hot on the heels of another media storm.

This time, the hype will surround the forthcoming Passat. The humble saloon and estate model makes a triumphant return with an eighth generation incarnation. Company car and minicab drivers will rejoice over claims of improved fuel economy, to quoted figures of a 20 per cent benefit. Certainly, a 20 per cent increase in economy is an impressive and tall claim to bring to the table.

Indeed, the realistic figure may not remain too far off the mark, due to an 85kg weight loss program. Advanced lightweight materials, including: high-strength and hot-formed steel and a smattering of aluminium, shall be common place in the new design. In addition, the overall dimensions of the vehicle have actually marginally shrunk. Thus promising a more light-footed chassis which will skip majestically along motorways and country roads.

Light-footedness in combination with a four-cylinder 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine producing 237bhp and 500Nm or torque, will definitely put a smile on many faces. A seven-speed DSG gearbox will be mounted onto this unit, driven by Volkswagen's brilliant 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. The more economy minded and environmentally conscious individuals will be pleasantly surprised to learn of a plug-in hybrid model, similar to the current Jetta Hybrid, with a total range of around 600 miles and the ability to travel 31 miles on battery power alone.

Safety will be a high priority too, with Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert alerting to dangers lurking in the driver's blind spots. Furthermore, the new Passat will come with Traffic Jam Assist, Emergency Assist and Front Assist system with City Emergency Braking. In a nutshell, there will be enough radar systems to detect and potentially prevent many low speed collisions with other traffic, road furniture and pedestrians.

Illumination will also add to the safety aspect, with fully LED rear lights. Headlights will be halogen, although LED will presumably be a cost option or standard on higher spec models. Dynamic Light Assist will help to prevent dazzling other road users, whilst ensuring that the road ahead is superbly illuminated for maximum vision.

On-board technology will also be ahead of the game, with the inclusion of the Active Info Display and a fully configurable interactive 12.3-inch TFT display. Interestingly, this shall include the Car-Net remote app; a further-developed 360-degree Area View function; and the latest generation of Park Assist. Those with phobias of parking in supermarket car parks will be pleased to hear about the new ability to park perpendicularly, which aims to make parking a stress free and accurate ordeal. A world first is Volkswagen's new Trailer Assist, which aims to simplify the difficult task of reversing with a trailer attached.

Interior space will also be increased, allowing for superior rear legroom for backseat passengers. Furthermore, luggage will easily be swallowed in the much larger boot space, hence promising a highly practical package. To what extent has not officially been revealed, although Volkswagen are definitely promising significant improvements on the previous generation.

The next generation Passat needs to offer a vast improvement to compliment the illustrious history of previous versions. After 41 years and in excess of 23 million worldwide sales, safe assumptions can be presumed that the motoring world will be watching closely. More details and official photos will arrive in July, with an official unveiling scheduled for October's Paris Motor Show. Sales will commence later in the year, with earliest deliveries expected at the beginning of 2015.

If it proves as successful as the MK7 Golf in its respective sector has yet to be seen. Whilst the jury is still out, we can predict from the details recently released that the upcoming Passat will be brilliant.

By Mike Armstrong