Volkswagen plans to extend the Passat range with a US-built SUV, an Eos replacement and a stylish coupé. The Passat refresh begins in 2012 with a mild facelift for the Passat CC (pictured), but the real fireworks begin two years later.
Today customers can choose from three different Eurospec Passat models: saloon, estate and CC. But in 2014, VW will unleash the next-generation midliner. In addition to the three European-built Passats, insiders are predicting an attractively priced crossover produced in North America as well as a pair of two-door Passat models.
Also high up on the wish-list is a two-door coupé which would complement the bigger and more expensive Passat CC. Although the Jetta coupé on display at the 2010 Detroit auto show did not get the nod, the Germans are still keen to address status-oriented customers with a sporty and elegant four-seater.
Passat coupes? Sounds like a threat to the Scirocco?
While the slow-selling and unloved Scirocco may be replaced by a dramatically styled Golf coupé, the Passat range will likely be extended by a full-size coupé and by a convertible derived from it.
Since the Eos and the Golf cabrio share the same PQ36 platform, it would make sense to pull these two closely related models further apart. The Eos replacement would in this scenario become the Passat drop-top, and it would retain the retractable hardtop as a key differentiating factor against the smaller Golf and Audi A3, and the similar-size Audi A5 rag-top.
It is not yet known where these two cars might be assembled, and we don't even know for sure whether coupé and cabrio are going to switch to the new MQT architecture together with saloon/estate/CC. Alternatively, the two-door Passats could bond with the readily available but less advanced Chattanooga-built PQ components set.
A Passat 4x4
Another Passat version which may soon roll off the Tennessee assembly line is a near full-size SUV positioned between Tiguan and Touareg. The Tiguan is doing well in the States, but since it is not available in LWB form like in China, its appeal over the cheaper opposition from Japan and Korea is limited.
The Touareg on the other hand is not quite big enough for US customer needs, and it costs too much compared to the domestic rivals. Enter the Passat SUV based on the NMS (new midsize sedan) platform which can be stretched to five metres and beyond.
It would even be possible to offer two different wheelbase options for a five- and a seven-seater. NMS uses a mixed bag of older, current and brand-new elements, but the cost-saving is not only in the metal but also in labour and content.
Passat SUV: the lowdown
A Passat SUV could do without pricey driver assistance systems, unnecessary dynamic trickeries and complex equipment combinations. Like the US Passat, the US-built SUV is all about value for money, space and exceptional quality.
Although the VR6 engine remains an option for the foreseeable future, it will for obvious reasons continue to lose ground to the four. After all, the twin-turbo 2.0-litre TSI will soon be good for 300bhp, and the 2.0 TDI unit is going to churn out 225bhp before long.
The all-American VW crossover is expected to come on stream in 2015 with optional 4Motion 4WD system and extra-cost seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission. In today's money, the base version should sell at about $25K. Exports to Europe would therefore make sense from a financial point of view, but there are still plenty of strategic issues to be sorted out.