UPDATE: More info from today’s event added.

We just got home from Pekan, Pahang, where DRB-Hicom and Volkswagen unveiled the CKD Volkswagen Passat 1.8 TSI in an event officiated by PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Locally assembled by DRB-Hicom at its sprawling and growing Pekan facility, the D-segment sedan is now available at Volkswagen dealerships nationwide at RM170,888.

This is one variant of a future strategy for the Passat family that will eventually see the CKD range priced between RM169,888 and RM184,888. The Passat is already roaming our streets, in fully-imported CBU form, since Volkswagen Group Malaysia launched it last October. The CBU car was priced at RM184,888 – click here to read the review.

We drove the CKD Passat today, and it appears that spec-wise, it’s exactly the same as the CBU unit we reviewed. That means a 1.8 TSI turbocharged engine with 160 PS and 250 Nm from 1,500 to 4,200 rpm. Mated to a seven-speed DSG gearbox, it does 0-100 km/h in 8.5 seconds and gets all the way to 220 km/h.

Bi-Xenons with integrated LED daytime running lights, LED tail lamps, multi-spoke “Minneapolis” 17-inch alloys and 235/45 CSC3 rubber, six airbags, semi-auto seats, cruise control, electric parking brake with auto-hold function and hill-hold control, PDC for the front and rear and a RCD 510 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit are standard kit.

At the event in Pekan, it was revealed that CKD assembly for the Passat started in October last year, and 311 units have been completed to date. Dr Christof Spathelf, Volkswagen AG’s senior VP, Group Manufacturing Overseas, assured that the CKD Passat’s quality is the same as that coming out from Germany. “We don’t compromise on quality,” he said, adding that key DRB-Hicom staff were sent to Europe for training.

“Nowadays, localisation takes a much more important role. At Volkswagen, we have the goal to assemble vehicles within the region of sales. This is what we call ‘local for local’. In combination with German engineering, proven quality standards and high performance, each vehicle we manufacture is a true Volkswagen,” added Spathelf.

The eventual local content target is 40%, and when that is achieved, VW will consider exports to the ASEAN region and even to right-hand-drive markets beyond the region. 2014 is the target. Currently, DRB-Hicom and VW are in the process of assessing local vendors, and so far, 20 out of 27 have passed VW’s “no compromise on quality” standards. The whole process will take 12 to 18 months, but for now, much of the car is shipped in from Europe in kits.

Click here for our review of the Passat, and a full gallery.