The new eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat is here. Designed by VW to go more upmarket, it's hoped the large family car's sleeker image and improved tech will help steer customers away from the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, not to mention mainstream rivals like the Mazda 6 and Ford Mondeo.
Volkswagen is taking orders for the 2015 Passat now with the first UK cars due to be delivered in January 2015. Prices will start at £22,215 for the entry-level 1.6 TDI saloon, rising to £37,035 for the top-spec Biturbo diesel estate.
Mid-spec SE models, starting at £1,095 more than the basic S cars, offer Front Assist and a Pre-Crash system, adaptive cruise control, driver profile selection, Ergo Comfort seats and front and rear parking sensors.
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The SE Business, aimed at fleet drivers, offers satellite navigation for a £1,000 premium. GT adds heated Alcantara seats, three-zone climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels for £1,300 extra, while the top-spec R-Line is only available on 2.0 TDI models, and starts at £27,425.
There is also a frugal 117bhp 1.6 TDI Bluemotion, capable of an impressive 78 MPG and 95 g/km of CO2, which is ideal for company car buyers. Elsewhere, there is the 2.0 TDI, available in two power forms, starting at £23,340 for the 147bhp model.
The 187bhp model is only available in GT spec, at £27,780.The range-topping engine is a new Bi-turbo 2.0 TDI with 237bhp, a DSG gearbox and 4Motion four-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid GTE version with a 1.4 TSI petrol engine and electric motor is also offered.
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With softer lines and an elegant sweeping profile, the new Passat is 14mm lower and 12mm wider than the outgoing model. The front end incorporates the brand’s new identity, with the three-bar chrome grille merging with the swept back headlights. At the back, a Phaeton-inspired rear end houses two chrome exhaust pipes which sit flush with the rear bumper.
Inside, technology and comfort have been the main focal points, with the conventional instrument cluster being replaced by a fully configurable 12.3-inch TFT display. Sadly, it will not be a standard feature but a separate 6.5-inch colour display in the centre console is fitted across the range.
Despite being shorter than the outgoing model – only by 2mm however – the new Passat offers more passenger space than before. That’s thanks to shorter front and rear overhangs, which allow the passenger compartment to be stretched by 33mm. There’s also more headroom as passengers sit lower to the ground and boot space is up by 21 litres, to 586. Space in the estate model has been boosted even further with boot capacity increasing by 47-litres, up to 650 litres.
The first VW Group product to be based on a stretched version of the MQB platform, the Passat will be up to 85kg lighter than its predecessor. That’s thanks largely to the use of high-strength vacuum-formed steels in the body – accounting for 33kg, as well as the chassis (9kg), powertrain (40kg) and electrics (3kg).
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While the overall length is actually 2mm shorter than its predecessor, a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs mean the passenger compartment is 33mm longer. The front seats have been dropped by 10mm, while rear passengers benefit from an extra 26mm of headroom. The boot in the Passat Estate has grown to 650-litres, up 47-litres on its predecessor, 50-litres more than the Octavia Estate and a massive 113-litre bigger than the soon-to-be-replaced Ford Mondeo Estate.
An updated electronic tailgate system allows you to open the hatch by waving your foot underneath the bumper, and now closes and locks automatically when you walk away.
Handy 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats expand the space should you need it, while a dual-level boot floor and a section on runners – to help you slide heavy boxes from front to back – boost functionality. Drop the passenger seat forward and objects up to a maximum length of 2.85m can be loaded.
Under the bonnet the big news is the introduction of a new 237bhp 2.0 TDI BiTurbo engine with 500Nm of torque – a massive 62bhp and 120Nm more than the most powerful previous-generation Passat diesel. The engine will be offered in conjunction with a revised seven-speed DSG gearbox, reengineered to cope with 500Nm of torque, in a range topping four-wheel drive version, capable of returning around 53mpg.
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Also confirmed is a plug-in hybrid version using the same modular powertrain as the Golf GTE. Combining a 154bhp 1.4 TSI engine with a 107bhp electric motor, it produces a total of 208bhp and 400Nm of torque, with an electric-only range of 31-miles and a total range of around 620-miles between fill ups. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions should be close to the Golf GTE’s figures of 188mpg and 35g/km.
Other engine options will include a 118bhp 1.6 TDI and a 2.0 TDI with either 148bhp, 188bhp or 237bhp. Petrol choices include a 1.4 TSI with 123bhp or 148bhp (the latter with ACT cylinder shutdown), a 177bhp 1.8 TSI or a 2.0 TSI with 217bhp or 276bhp.
A raft of high-tech options have been introduced, too, including full LED headlights that use an on-board camera to avoid dazzling other cars and illuminate around corners, as well as full-LED taillights as standard. The suite of driver assistance systems includes autonomous braking, emergency assist (which can bring the car safety to a stop if it detects the driver has fallen asleep or stopped controlling the car) and trailer assist to help with tricky parking manoeuvers. A new traffic jam assist function lets you crawl along automatically in a jam, following the car in front, while lane assist gently nudges the steering is you begin to wander between the lines.
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A new progressive steering system, which increases the ratio depending on how far you turn the wheel, will be offered as part of a dynamic handling package either in conjunction with a sports chassis or DCC adaptive dampers. With progressive steering it takes 2.1 turns lock to lock, and 2.75 without it.
Interior technology now includes the latest MIB II infotainment system first seen on the facelifted Polo, with colour touch screen sizes ranging from 5.8 to 8.0-inches, while a new fully-configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, using technology first seen on the new TT, has also been introduced.
Now read our full in-depth reviews of the new Volkswagen Passat range...