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First look: VW Passat worth the wait

Sized up: The sixth generation Passat has grown in all key dimensions.

Volkswagen previews the next Passat, due for launch at Geneva

21 Dec 2004

IT’S been a long time coming but the first photographic evidence indicates the sixth generation Volkswagen Passat might have been worth the wait.

VW’s new mid-size sedan is launched next March at the Geneva motor show, with its local on-sale date scheduled for the end of 2005 or early 2006.

It replaces a car that has been on-sale since 1996 internationally and here since 1998. It will be a key launch for Volkswagen Group Australia, coming soon after the arrival of the smaller Bora sedan.

“Next year is a big year for us with the arrival of an all-new Passat and an all-new Bora,” explained VGA spokesman Brad Leach. “They both represent major volume opportunities because they are terrific vehicles.”

The current Passat has been a moderate success for VGA, with more than 1000 sold in 1992 after a relaunch, but sales have dwindled right away in 2005.

The latest Passat truly deserves the all-new tag. It ditches the longitudinal engine/front-wheel drive set-up it borrowed from VW subsidiary Audi for the last car, instead sharing architecture with the latest Golf V.

That means transverse/fwd layout, MacPherson strut front suspension, an independent four link rear-end and a range of petrol and turbo-diesel engines that are virtually all-new to the range and mated to a choice of six-speed automatic and clutchless DSG manual gearboxes.

VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system is scheduled to join the range, but not until a later date. It’s the same story for the wagon.

One thing is for sure though, the complex and slow selling W8-engined Passat has gone to meet its maker.

The Passat’s top performing engine is set to be a 3.2-litre FSI V6 with 184kW that won’t be launched in Europe until late 2005.

In Australia we should get that engine along with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and a 2.0-litre FSI (direct injection) petrol engine. That means the current Passat's 2.8-litre V6 and the $51,490 V5 entry model bid adieu.

The front-end of the new Passat features the new chromed ‘shield’ grille that is set to become the Volkswagen brand’s corporate face, while the LED rear lights ape the shape of the b-Xenon headlights.

3 center imageThe interior is all-new as well, VW describing it as more driver-orientated than ever before and also capable of more individual tailoring through four equipment lines, each available with four colour schemes together with wood and aluminium trims.

In Australia, however, don’t expect such an array of choice with a maximum of one or two specification levels predicted.

While the Passat drifts away from Audi technically, it still borrows comfort features first seen in the A8 and A6 including an electronic park brake, keyless entry and start, and radar cruise control.

There’s also Bluetooth mobilephone compatibility, a 600-watt Dynaudio sound system and ‘Climatronic’ ventilation.

The new Passat has grown in all key dimensions, with length up by 62mm to 4.77m width up 74mm to 1.82m and height up 10mm to 1.47m. The wheelbase has also increased by 6mm to 2.71 m, resulting in a claimed improvement in interior space. Luggage space has also grown 90 litres to 565 litres.

Another significant measurement is static torsional rigidity – in this respect the new Passat is 57 per cent stiffer than its predecessor. That should help chassis balance, while ESP (stability control) will provide electronic assistance to the driver.

“It’s an absolute stunner,” added Mr Leach. “It is sensational to drive and the interior is best in class, really underlining Volkswagen’s long-held reputation as the producer of some of the best interiors in the world.”

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