VW's best way of describing the new 2015 Passat for Europe and other places around the world is a "premium class car without premium costs". In other words, the Germans want to extend their reach over to more premium offerings like the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and even sister company Audi's A4, all while continuing to challenge mainstream rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Peugeot 508.
Unveiled earlier today at the VW Design Center in Potsdam, Germany, the eighth generation Passat, codenamed B8, is a clean sheet design that differs from the American Passat that will continue on its own path unchanged.
"The new Passat gives the right answers to the major automotive trends of its time," commented VW Group chief Martin Winterkorn. "For me this Passat is a premium class car without premium costs. This fits perfectly to Europe's most successful business car – lining up with 20 percent better fuel economy, up to 85kg [188 lbs] less weight and a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines – there is even a plug-in hybrid available."
Most of those weight savings can be attributed to the new MQB flexible platform architecture shared with the latest Golf. Compared to the outgoing B7 that is based on the previous B6, the new Passat B8 in sedan trim is 2mm shorter at 4,767mm long and sits 14mm lower, but has an 80mm longer wheelbase at 2,791mm, and is also 12mm wider at 1,832mm.
VW makes promises of improved space for both passengers and their luggage, with the sedan's cargo space boosted by 21-liters to 586-liters, and the station wagon model's by 47-liters to 650-liters or up to 1,780-liters with the rear seats folded.
The styling of the new Passat both inside and out is on the elegant (albeit unadventurous) side with more premium details compared to the outgoing model – you could say that VW tried to bring a touch of Phaethon to the mid-size segment with the B8.
This is even more evident on the technology front with the Passat gaining a multitude of new features highlighted by the available fully configurable 12.3-inch TFT display (buyers of base models will have to do with a 6.5-inch color display in the center console) marketed as the Active Info Display.
Other notable features include the extendible head-up display, an app-based Rear Seat Entertainment for tablet computers, Front Assist plus City Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, and what VW says are three world firsts for a vehicle in this class: Emergency Assist (vehicle stops in emergency), Trailer Assist (assisted maneuvering with a trailer) and Traffic Jam Assist.
Overall, European buyers will have a choice of 10 direct injection turbocharged petrol and diesel engines covering a power range from 120PS to 280PS (118hp to 276hp), all of which are fitted with stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode, and meet Euro 6 emission standards.
Among these powerplants is a new 1.4 TSI Plug-in Hybrid with a combined system output of 211PS (208hp) that has an all-electric range of 50 km (31 miles). There's also the 240PS (237hp) 2.0-liter TDI diesel that comes exclusively with a DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive offering a 0-100km/h (62mph) sprint time of 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 240km/h (239mph) with a combined fuel economy of 5.3l/100km (44.1mpg US or 53 mpg UK).
VW said that advance sales for the new Passat in Germany begin next week, with prices starting from €25,875 for the saloon and €25,950 for the estate. The new Passat will enjoy its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October.
By John Halas