Volkswagen's new midsize sedan has moved on up in the world. Poised to pick on basic Bimmers and Audis, the Passat sports a completely new look styled by Klaus Bischoff (head of design, Volkswagen) and Walter de Silva (head of design, Volkswagen Group) establishes a fresh direction for the Passat saloon and Estate with clean surfaces and an elegant yet imposing stance.
The front of the car, dominated by a new grille element with prominent horizontal chrome fins, features striking heavily contoured headlight units, set into which are LED running lights. At the rear a set of distinctive tail lights is joined by subtle chrome highlights that extend down the side of the car. Every body panel apart from the roof is new.
Measuring 4,769 mm in length, the new Passat is marginally longer than the car it replaces (+4 mm) and at 1,820 mm wide and 1,474 mm tall it retains the same proportions.
The fresh look continues inside the seventh generation Passat with new seats that can be specified to both heat and cool their occupants and even feature a massage function for the driver and front seat passenger. A revised dashboard with new dials, trim finishes and an analogue clock are joined by subtle chrome inserts and the option of ambience lighting similar to that found in the Phaeton. The centre console has also been uprated with revisions to the minor controls as well as new door trims.
Powering the new Passat is a range of advanced and highly efficient petrol and diesel engines. The petrol line-up comprises a 1.4-litre TSI engine developing 122 PS, a 1.8-litre TSI unit with 160 PS, a 2.0-litre TSI 210 PS engine and a range-topping 3.6-litre V6 producing 300 PS.
The refined and frugal diesel range starts with the most efficient engine, the 1.6-litre TDI unit producing 105 PS. Joining this TDI engine is a 2.0-litre TDI engine available in two power outputs - 140 PS and 170 PS. Each of the engine ranges can be specified with a choice of manual or DSG gearboxes.
Promising enhanced dynamics, the new Passat can be specified with the XDS electronic transverse differential for the first time. The system, which is standard on the Golf GTI, acts to reduce understeer and improve traction in slippery conditions making the new Passat feel more responsive as a result.