Der neue Volkswagen Passat

Well, it’s finally here – the eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat, sporting new, more upmarket looks and features that aim to take the new D-segment competitor a step or two above its rivals.

Codenamed B8, the new Passat is the latest and the largest so far to be built on the Volkswagen Group’s modular MQB architecture. Measuring 4,767 mm long, 1,832 mm wide and 1,456 mm tall, the new car is 2 mm shorter, 12 mm wider and sits a full 14 mm lower compared to the outgoing B7.

More importantly, the wheelbase has been stretched some 79 mm to 2,791 mm, so despite the nominally shrunken dimensions, occupants actually get more leg- and headroom. In addition, the sedan’s boot has grown by 21 litres to 586 litres, while the estate’s cargo capacity has increased by 47 litres to 650 litres. Weight has been cut by up to 85 kg thanks to lightweight construction and lighter four-cylinder engines.

The front has been given an illusion of wideness thanks to more horizontally-structured elements such as the chrome accents on the grille and lower air intake, as well as trapezoidal headlights which give the car a more imposing presence on the road. These headlights can now be specified with LED technology as opposed to the standard halogen units.

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Three LED headlight options are available, ranging from basic reflector units all the way to full-blown projectors with Dynamic Light Assist that uses a camera to control the high beams, as well as U-shaped daytime running lights with 32 LEDs.

Most of the height decrease seems to come from the lower, sleeker roofline, which makes us wonder if there is any room left in the company’s lineup for a CC (although the CC is still a good 34 mm lower). The rear is an evolution of the current car but there are standard Golf R-style LED tail lights and integrated dual trapezoidal exhaust outlets on larger engine variants that give the car a more upscale appearance.

The interior features the same horizontal layout as the exterior, with a full-width ventilation strip that stretches across the dashboard which is claimed to improve climate control performance and ventilation acoustics. The rest of the cabin is pretty much standard modern Volkswagen, with a Mk7 Golf-like angled centre console and flat-bottomed steering wheel.

In front of the driver, the Passat can be specified with an optional Audi TT-esque configurable digital instrument cluster, a first for Volkswagen. Dubbed Active Info Display, the 12.3-inch display can show navigation information, driver assist functions, phone contacts and music information. The Passat will also be the first Volkswagen to be available with a head-up display.

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The latest generation of VW’s modular MIB infotainment systems graces the centre console. The new range of touchscreen systems have larger displays and higher resolutions, faster processors and optional MirrorLink smartphone integration. There is also a new rear-seat entertainment system which can be controlled by a tablet through optional wireless local area networking (WLAN).

A total of nine direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engines will be available, with fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions that have been reduced by as much as 20%. Five TSI petrol engines feature outputs ranging from 132 PS all the way up to 280 PS (the latter is similar to the Golf R), while three TDI diesel engines produce between 150 PS and 240 PS.

A highlight is the top diesel engine, a 240 PS/500Nm 2.0 litre bi-turbo unit which is the the most powerful four-cylinder diesel engine ever offered by Volkswagen. With 4Motion all-wheel drive and a standard seven-speed DSG dual clutch transmission, the it reaches a top speed of 240 km/h (estate 238 km/h) while using just 5.3 litres of diesel per 100 km.

Der neue Volkswagen Passat Variant R-Line

A plug-in hybrid variant will also be on offer, combining a 156 PS 1.4 TSI engine and a 109 PS electric motor to produce 211 PS, a 0-100 km/h time of under eight seconds, a 210 km/h top speed, a 50 km all-electric range and a total range of over 1,000 km. Fuel consumption and emission figures will be similar to the Golf GTE‘s 1.5 litres of petrol per 100 km and 35 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

New features that were previously only featured on more premium cars include 360-degree Area View with a new obstacle detection feature, next-generation Park Assist that can now perform semi-automatic forward parking into perpendicular spaces, Trailer Assist, variable-ratio steering and an Easy Close system for the estate that, when activated, will close the tailgate when the user walks away with the key.

Automated driving systems are also starting to creep into the lower rungs of the market – a new Traffic Assist system uses the adaptive cruise control and Lane Assist function to steer, brake and accelerate the car automatically at speeds under 60 km/h.

Der neue Volkswagen Passat und Passat Variant

The system only works with the driver’s hands on the steering wheel; without them, the Emergency Assist will warn the driver with an acoustic and visual warning, jolt the driver with a brief but hard stab on the brakes and, if the driver is still inactive, bring the car to a safe stop in its own lane.

Revisions have also been made to existing driver assist systems. The City Emergency Braking system now reacts to pedestrians instead of just vehicles, while the Side Assist blind-spot monitoring system will now also countersteer if the driver continues to steer into an occupied lane.

The B8 Volkswagen Passat will be available in Europe in the fourth quarter of this year, with advance sales starting on July 10. Prices will start from €25,875 (RM112,200) for the sedan and €25,950 (RM112,700) for the estate. Now’s the time to place your bets – when do you think the new Passat will arrive in Malaysia? We’ll start by predicting an end-2015 introduction.