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New-gen VW Passat design detailed

Style council: Significant work has gone into the design of the new Passat to ensure it ages well.

Two steps forward then one step back ensures VW Passat will look fresh for years

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Volkswagen logo14 Oct 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in SARDINIA, ITALY

VOLKSWAGEN’S new-generation Passat started off as bold sketches when styling work commenced four years ago under the leadership of design boss Klaus Bischoff.

According to Volkswagen AG’s technical project manager for Passat Dirk Nessenius, the designers wanted to push the mid-sizer’s styling forward enough to look fresh without losing the visual touchstones accumulated since the radical B5 series of 1996.

“The design always starts of bold, before being pared back a little, so as to make it more appealing to consumers today and in the four or five years that it must stay current in the marketplace,” he told GoAuto at the Passat launch in Sardinia last week.

Calling it the biggest forward design step for Passat since the iconic B5 influenced medium sedan styling globally for a decade afterwards, the new model – due in Australia in October 2015 – has adopted a more cab backward stance to reflect the all-new dynamic chassis lurking underneath.

This has been done by altering the proportions via a longer wheelbase and bonnet, shorter overhangs and rear deck on the sedan, a more steeply raked windscreen, wider tracks and an increase in the distance between the trailing edge of the front door and the front wheel arch.

Each wheel is now larger and have a more ‘pushed out’ look than before.

The goal was to up the premium factor considerably, according to Mr Nessenius, to “make it represent a type of business class”. This was made possible thanks to the all-new MQB modular transverse platform matrix.

The implementation of a side character line running from the rear of the front wheel arch through to the tail-lights brings a muscular athleticism to the Passat that Volkswagen says gives it an upmarket appearance.

This is especially evident in the wagon that accounts for more than 60 per cent of sales in Australia (just as it does in most other markets in the world including Germany).

While the company would wince at it being called a “Hofmeister Kink”, this BMW terminology aptly describes the hockey-stick C-pillar treatment (D-pillar on the wagon), further underlining Volkswagen’s aspirations for its German family car conveyance.

Rear-on, a more pronounced tapering triangle thanks to more tapered pillars adds a bit more muscle where there was flab in the previous Passat.

From the driver’s perspective, the pillars are thinner (by 17 per cent) to improve forward vision and reduce the amount of bulk around the windscreen, and the door mirrors are mounted on plinths to better direct air flow (and consequential wind noise) away from the passenger compartment.

Both promote better aerodynamics, while suggesting to the onlooker that the Passat is more efficient, according to Mr Nessenius.

Finally, while some of the more traditional styling signatures such as a wide grille and boxy wagon silhouette have carried through, Volkswagen has attempted to modernise its mid-sizer with larger and/or bolder detailing to give it more presence than previously – something that the larger radiator bars and LED headlights help out with.

Asked what is his favourite B8 design touch, Mr Nessenius nominated the grille.

“It is the perfect front. It looks like one piece it’s solid yet functional, but refined too, much like the way the glass on an iPhone sits within the case with precise shutlines. “A lot of teams came together to make the face – it’s a mass production car, but one requiring perfect practices and concepts, yet it is still affordable… it represents precisely Volkswagen know-how today.”

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