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Paris show: VW reveals plug-in eighth-gen Passat

Technobabble: The all-new Volkswagen Passat will include options such as a digital dashboard that will replace traditional analogue instruments.

Sedan, wagon locked in for Aus, but VW’s plug-in Passat still a work in progress

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Volkswagen logo4 Jul 2014

By BARRY PARK

VOLKSWAGEN has revealed the Passat that will carry the badge into the 21st century, featuring a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that will do most commutes under electric power alone.

Featuring a design and fit-out that the German car-maker says gives buyers “a premium class car without premium costs”, the new range will boast fuel efficiency gains of up to 20 per cent, as well as a hybrid model as it fights the likes of Ford’s soon-to-be-updated Euro-styled Mondeo, the conventionally engined Mazda6 range and Toyota’s facelifted Camry mid-sizer.

However, while the regular Passat sedan and wagon are locked in for an Australian arrival late next year, question marks still hang over whether the hybrid will make it Down Under.

That variant will carry a 50km all-electric range from its 80kW electric motor paired with a 115kW 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that provides a combined 155kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

According to the German car-maker, fuel use could be as low as 1.5L/100km for the car when it is officially launched, with a range of about 1000km.

Volkswagen Australia general manager of communications Karl Gehling said the long lead-time to the eighth generation of the mid-size car means it is too early to go into details about which drivelines would join Australian showrooms.

“There’s still a long way to go before the Passat gets here,” Mr Gehling said.

The Passat, due to be unveiled at the Paris motor show in October, features a lower body than the current generation, as well as a longer wheelbase and larger wheels to enhance its performance.

Along the way, too, it has shed up to 85kg of weight, meaning it could tip the scales at around 1400kg and further enhance performance. According to the car-maker, 9kg was shed from driveline components including 4.7kg from the rear axle, while engines shed up to 40kg and using aluminium as part of the wiring system has cut off an extra 3kg.

An all-new air-conditioning system helps to save another 33kg from the car’s superstructure.

It will also come packed with technology, including a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster – standard on some variants but optional on others – that can rearrange itself to show important information such as the sat-nav system and even images of people calling the driver on a paired phone, and an extendible head-up display in front of the driver, while rear-seat passengers will have access to app-based entertainment functions, such as movies or radio stations, for tablet computers.

Tellingly, while the Passat does boast Apple device connectivity, its infotainment system is optimised to use Google’s Android-based smartphones via apps that pop up on the dash.

As far as phones go, the Passat will become more like a mobile office with the ability to call two phone numbers simultaneously, such as a contact’s landline and mobile device.

The Passat will offer either halogen or LED headlights, while LED tail-lights are used down the rear, with higher-end models featuring a set-up that flips the red glow from horizontal to vertical to make it more visible. The front set features 32 LEDs that form the daytime running lights.

On the safety front, Volkswagen says the new Passat will gain an automatic braking system that can recognise pedestrians, the ability to automatically stop the car in an emergency, software that keeps the Passat in a straight line while backing a trailer, and a service called Traffic Jam Assist that watches over the driver in slow-moving traffic.

If the driver falls asleep at the wheel, the new Passat is set up to recognise that no inputs are being made to the pedals or the steering wheel, and can automatically activate the emergency flashers and bring the car to a slow stop.

The car will also come with a surround-view camera system that gives a top-down perspective on what is around the car, and can even spot rocks and tree stumps if the Passat heads off the bitumen. If you own the wagon variant, the tailgate can now close automatically as soon as you step away from it.

According to Volkswagen, European customers will be able to choose between 10 direct-inject petrol and diesel engines that meet tough Euro 6 emissions caps, and ranging in performance from 88kW to 206kW. The hybrid, Volkswagen says, is the most powerful fuel-saving version of the technology it has ever made.

Part of the new engine line-up is a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder that makes 176kW of power and 500Nm of torque, but uses only about 5.0L/100km on the European cycle, sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Inside, the new Passat claims 33mm of extra legroom thanks to the stretched wheelbase.

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