VW Passat Estate (2011) the new spy photos

Published: 04 August 2010

How new is the new 2011 VW Passat, caught in our new spy photos in estate guise? While the Passat Mk8 we’ll see at the 2010 Paris motor show gets fresh sheet metal and a restyled cabin, the DNA beneath the crisper skin remains by and large unchanged.

The brief given to the designers called for a sleeker and more elegant appearance, for a more up-market interior and for that new unisex VW look. ‘We have been accused of visual saminess,’ acknowledges styling director Walter de Silva. ‘But to understand our strategy, you need to look at the big picture. First of all, we must create a truly sustainable common form language for all VW models. Once the customers have taken in the new identity, we can start to differentiate slowly and very carefully.

‘Consider for example the redefined family face the implementation of which will be complete early next year. It defines the brand, and it must in essence remain about as consistent and classy as the design philopsophy pursued by Apple. What makes all the difference is how the sculpture, the surfaces and the detailing relay exactly the right mix of style and substance.’

New VW Passat Mk8: like Golf Mk5 to Mk6

Contrary to our earlier reports, it seems that the new 2011 VW Passat follows the theme set by the Golf Mk6. There is plenty of horizontal brightwork to signal that coveted up-market touch, along with jewel head- and taillights, bolder air intakes, a more angular grille, slimline mirrors and parallel double streaks along the cleaned up flanks.

To support the more grown up stance, the customers can choose from new upscale extras like adaptive self-dimming headlights, lane departure warning, blindspot warning, brake-to-stop cruise control, automatic parking aid and traffic sign recognition. Also new are the electric tow bar, the panorama sunroof unique to the wagon (dubbed Variant on the Continent) and the plusher cockpit adopted from the Passat CC complete with voice control for the improved sat-nav system, optional active climate seats and a heated multi-functional steering-wheel with shift paddles.

Will the new VW Passat be better to drive? Like, less magnolia?

Thanks to lightweight suspension elements and revised kinematics, we expect a more precise handling and a more compliant ride. Stronger brakes, bigger tyres and a recalibrated ESP are bound to further improve the active safety.

Although the new Passat is a full-size car, the base version will be powered by a small 1.2-litre four rated at 105bhp. Next in line are the 122bhp 1.4 TSI and its 150bhp E85 derivative. North American customers can select from four different versions: 160bhp 1.8 TSI, 211bhp 2.0 TSI, 300bhp 3.6 FSI 4Motion and 170bhp 2.0 TDI. For Europe, the new VW Passat will also be available as 105bhp 1.6 TDI, 140bhp 2.0 TDI and 220bhp 2.0BiTDI 4Motion.

It is not yet clear when the high-performance diesel will go on sale, but since Audi is the driving force behind this remarkable powerplant which churns out a maximum torque of 332lb ft, we should see the superdiesel in late 2011 or early 2012. Four wheel drive and the desirable DSG double-clutch transmission are standard in combination with the top-of-the-line petrol and TDI powerplants.

So a halfway house facelift… when’s the next all-new Passat?

The next all-new Passat due in 2014 will move up half a notch while the Phaeton replacement expected in 2013 will be positioned in a more accessible price bracket. According to the Wolfsburg grapevine, the Passat CC and the Passat cabriolet due to replace the Eos by 2014 in particular have the potential to move the nameplate up-market and to make it easier for customers to trade up to the Phaeton II which will again be a classic four-door notchback.

Plenty to keep the product planners busy…

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel