Up next:

VW Passat (2011) first pictures: it's Passat Mk7

Published: 29 September 2010

Volkswagen tonight kicked off its now-traditional eve-of-show party at the French expo with an unveiling of its new wares. The new seventh-generation VW Passat is the star on Volkswagen’s Paris motor show stand – and these are the first photographs of the new Passat v7.0.

It’s a modest refresh, akin to the jump from Golf Mk5 to Golf Mk6. There’s the latest Volkswagen design lingo masterminded by Klaus Bischoff, a smattering of new tech and the inevitable eco solutions.

This is the seventh-generation VW Passat. First launched back in 1973, Volkswagen has now built 15 million Passats. Make no mistake, this is big business for Wolfsburg.

Errr, the new 2011 Passat looks very like the old VW Passat!

It’s true that not much has changed. The footprint is very similar; it’s 4mm longer (4769mm), but width (1820mm) and height (1474mm) remain unchanged. This is a modest reskin, seemingly, although in fairness every body panel apart from the roof is new.

You’ll spot the new Passat by the freshly tweaked grille and new squinty headlamps. Look, also, for those chrome accents that run down the side of the car, lending the new 2011 Passat a subtly different character.

What’s new inside the Mk7 Volkswagen Passat?

The dash is similar to today’s Passat cabin. The centre console is given a pep-me-up, but in reality it won’t scare away many Passat loyalists.

The engine line up now stretches down to include a 120bhp 1.4 TSI; petrols step up to include a 158bhp 1.8 TSI and a punchy, Golf GTI-related 207bhp 2.0 TSI. Turbochargers abound. On the Continent, a 296bhp 3.6 V6 is offered, but it seems unlikely that the UK will continue the R36 version.

Diesel choice comprises a BlueMotion model with a 104bhp 1.6 TDI with stop-start (good for a modest 109g/km of CO2 and 69mpg) or chunkier 138bhp or 168bhp 2.0 TDI dervs. A choice of manual and DSG twin-clutch autos are available and the XDS electronic diff-effect is available for the first time on the Passat.

When can I buy the new VW Passat?

The order books open in the UK mid-October for the new Passat saloon and estate, while first customer cars land in January 2011. Prices will be announced nearer launch.

Tech you’ll recognise from higher-end executive models include a city safety system that brakes automatically at speeds below 18mph if the car detects a frontal collision; the new 2011 Passat also monitors how awake the driver is; and the front seats can be set to heat or cool the passengers.

And here’s one claim that we’ll have to test out at Paris; you can even open the boot of the new seventh-gen Passat by making ‘a simple foot motion at the back of the car’ – useful if you have your hands full. The car detects the key in your pocket and pings open the boot automatically. We can’t wait to see the mums of Fulham doing the locomotion to open their boot outside Waitrose.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet