2016_passat_5394

For those of you not familiar with the various versions of the Volkswagen Passat, no, the fairly new B8 model hasn’t received a facelift just a year on from its unveiling. This is, in fact, the larger, completely separate North American model – built in Chattanooga, Tennessee – which gets a refresh that brings it closer in appearance to its European sibling.

The milquetoast styling of the current car has thankfully been revamped, though it’s still rather conservative. At the front sit reshaped headlights (LED units optional) that flow into the broad four-bar grille – the topmost full-width chrome bar runs across the top of both headlights, just like the B8. The bumper has also been reprofiled to become more squared-off and more aggressive; even the bonnet receives a bit more definition.

Move towards the rear of the car and you’ll find new tail lights (again, LED items are optional) connected by a chrome strip, a “European-style” flush number plate recess, repositioned reflectors as well as a reshaped bumper with full-width chrome trim.

2016_passat_5387

Introduced for the first time on the US-market Passat is the R-Line pack, featuring a sportier front bumper, side skirt and rear diffuser design, as well as 19-inch anthracite “Salvador” alloy wheels shod with 235/40-section tyres.

The interior has also seen a few revisions, including a Mk7 Golf-style flat-bottomed steering wheel, a redesigned twin-barrel instrument cluster, new steering column stalks, two-tone decor panels and chrome and piano black trim. VW also promises improved cabin materials.

Volkswagen’s new range of modular infotainment systems, MIB II, is now available and adds capacitive touchscreens on most models, enabling gesture controls such as swiping and pinch-to-zoom; there’s also a proximity sensor on many variants. USB, Bluetooth and a reverse camera are standard-fit, while VW Car-Net App-Connect, which adds MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is available as an option.

2016_passat_5381

New options include rear-seat heating and Easy Open keyless access, enabling the bootlid to be opened by moving a foot near the rear of the Passat. Safety-wise, Automatic Post-Collision Braking is fitted as standard, while Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Assist and Park Assist can be specified depending on trim level.

The lineup of engines remain unchanged – there’s a 170 hp/250 Nm 1.8 litre TSI turbocharged petrol four-pot, a 150 hp/320 Nm 2.0 litre Clean Diesel TDI and a 280 hp/350 Nm 3.6 litre VR6. Also unchanged are the gearboxes, including a six-speed manual (2.0 TDI), a six-speed automatic (1.8 TSI) and a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission (2.0 TDI, 3.6 VR6).

Full pricing will be announced closer to its market introduction later this year, but the base 1.8 TSI S with the standard automatic transmission starts at US$22,440, the same price as the outgoing automatic-equipped model (the standard five-speed manual of yore appears to have been dropped).