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New Passat to lead VW charge

Preened Passat: Volkswagen's facelifted Passat gains a host of subtle enhancements to keep it looking fresh.

Volkswagen has provided the first glimpse of its facelifted Passat, due here in mid-2001

21 Aug 2000

THIS is the face of the new Passat that will play a key role in shaping the success of Volkswagen's Australian subsidiary next year.

The new factory-backed subsidiary will take over the role of importing and distributing VW vehicles from Inchcape Motors starting on January 1, 2001.

VW has appointed the current managing director of its Japanese operation, Mr Peter Nochar, to head up its wholly-owned local subsidiary.

The new operation will be based at new premises in the Sydney suburb of Mascot.

Its prospects will hinge largely on the updated Passat, due to make its world debut at the Paris Motor Show on September 28, four years after the last Passat was revealed, also in Paris.

VW spokesman Mr Oliver Mann says the new Passat is due here in mid-2001.

It is clearly distinguishable from the current car thanks to a more purposeful face featuring a chrome grille, revised headlights and redesigned bumper assembly.

The newcomer also gains updated tail-light clusters and a new boot opening, while a chrome rubbing strip runs around the body and chromed window surrounds.

The theme continues inside the cabin with chrome-ringed instrumentation the most noticeable change.

VFACTS figures indicate the Passat notched up 1094 sales in 1999 and 1203 the previous year, making it the brand's second-biggest seller after the Golf.

But its popularity has declined this year with just 415 sold until the end of July, compared with 791 for the same period last year.

Nevertheless, VW's overall sales are up from 3786 cars for the first seven months of 1999 to 4383 cars for the same period this year.

The growth has been fuelled largely by the launch of the Bora and New Beetle.

Mr Mann says VW is on track to sell 7000 cars in 2000 - its best result in over 20 years.

A facelifted Polo powered by a new 1.4-litre engine will join the line-up on September 16, but the launch of the Bora 4Motion and Beetle turbo have been postponed to next February or March.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is dropping the name Syncro for its four-wheel drive models, replacing the term with 4Motion.

The Flagship Passat 4Motion is now available and comes with an impressive list of standard luxury features - leather, climate control, five-speed tiptronic automatic, electric everything, 6 CD-stacker, ABS, immobiliser and 17-inch alloys.

The four-wheel drive system uses a Torque-sensing, or Torsen differential much like those used by Audi for the A4 and A6, which allows a differential between front and rear wheels of about 80 per cent.

Electronic diff lock (EDL) controls acceleration from standstill to 40km/h by gently applying the brakes, while Anti-slip Regulation (ASR) works by lifting the throttle electronically if more than the allowable slip between the front wheels is noted. The flagship Volkswagen retails for $65,990.

In addition, VW's Bora 4Motion will be available here next year.

But it uses a quite different system of transmitting power to all four wheels.

Like the Audi TT, A3, VW Golf, Sharan MPV and Beetle RSi, the Bora uses a Swedish Haldex system.

This new development in four-wheel drive traction has a viscous coupling clutch with hydraulic functions controlled electronically, using inputs from the ABS braking sensors on each wheel.

Still another VW system of getting power to all four wheels is the viscous coupling originally called Syncro, but this is now only fitted to VW's commercial vehicles.

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