The Passat is in the middle of a mighty shake-up – new VW boss Martin Winterkorn has hauled its facelift forwards from 2010 to 2009, killed off the proposed Shooting Brake and Audi A6-based Crosser, and ordered the current car’s B7/VW47X replacement to be brought forward from 2014 to 2012. All change for Passat number seven, then…
Tell me about the VW Passat's facelift first
Nothing radical – a lot less chrome, new lamps and bumpers front and rear, a lot more goodies including rear-view camera and automatic parking for those to lazy to turn their necks.
Next year's Passat diesel line-up will be bolstered by a beefier 204bhp 2.0 TDI, and there’s talk of a jacked-up estate with optional 4Motion, dubbed Hunter, arriving in 2009 – and that’s about it. Why change so little? Because all the time and money is being spent on the B7/VW47X – that's the 2012 Passat replacement to you and me.
Tell me more about the 2012 Passat…
The next Passat will retain its current transverse engine layout but will sit on the much vaunted new ultra-flexible MQB architecture – and with far-reaching consequences. The Passat will never be allowed to pitch itself more upmarket than its DNA permits, which means no pseudo-executive W8 nonsense. The Passat family will grow to include Passat saloon and estate, the new Passat CC and will – eventually – spawn the replacement Touareg and Tiguan.
So it’ll be worth waiting for 2012?
It sounds promising. As well as promising a radical redesign that will make us think twice about wanting a 3-series, C-Class or an A4, the new Passat will be rammed with advanced technology including weight-saving measures like miniature air-con compressors and electric seat adjusters, new ultra-thin toughened glass, featherweight foam injection chassis stiffening, semi-active air suspension, rear-wheel steering, a lighter low-friction 4Motion system with dynamic torque split... the list goes on.
You want more tech? How about airless tyres from Continental, a Bosch wiperless window cleaning system, 360deg parking cameras, ESP with automatic counter-steer assistance, speed limit-obeying adaptive cruise control and – our favourite – magnetic low-voltage paint which can change colour by changing the current. It sounds far flung but VW is seriously considering all this for the 2012 Passat replacement.
What will be under the bonnet of the new Passat?
To pander to the Passat’s transverse layout, VW has given the go ahead for a VR6 replacement. The 280bhp 3.0 V6 retains its narrow 15deg V angle, and is fitted with direct injection and will be turbocharged in most applications – and it will also be offered in hybrid form. VW is expected to unveil a 300bhp diesel version of the engine, coupled to the new eight-speed dry-clutch DSG 'box and available with four-wheel drive.
My word…and what about the proposed Passat Plus?
This true E-class and 5-series rival will share its underpinnings with the next Audi A6/A7 and, according to insiders is an elegantly sculpted four-door saloon with a sumptuous Phaeton-inspired interior. While the Passat Plus will get the new V6s, the standard Passat will continue VW’s penchant for combining supercharger and turbocharger for most petrol engines and single or twin-turbo blowers for its diesels.>> Come back to CAR Online every day this week for a series of exclusive VW scoops lifting the lid on the next generation of Volkswagens