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Volkswagen Passat

B5 Passat

1 Mar 1998

Based on the first Audi A4 of 1994, the 1998 Passat was one of the instant classics of the decade.

It instantly rejuvenated the 23 year-old nameplate with its bold design, lush interior presentation and rock solid build quality.

In Europe it also sparked a seismic shift in family car buyer habits by luring them away from traditional low-image high value models like the Ford Mondeo and GM Vectra.

Acknowledging the Passat’s influence on its once-core buyer base, Ford even poached VW design staff when developing the 2001-2006 Mondeo Mk2.

Using the Audi platform meant a north-south engine placement, a range of tasty Audi engines, and the option of the accomplished quattro all-wheel drive platform with a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension set-up, as opposed to the regular front-wheel drive Passat’s torsion beam arrangement.

Two beautiful body styles were offered – the dome-like four-door sedan and a boxy four-door station wagon.

Initially there were two 1.8-litre twin-cam 20-valve four-cylinder engines to choose from – a 92kW/168Nm 1.8 20V and turbo-charged 110kW/210Nm 1.8T.

While both came with a five-speed manual gearbox, the latter added a five-speed Tiptronic automatic (instead of a four-speeder) to its repertoire.

Audi’s excellent 2.8-litre DOHC 30V V6 was the other motivator, driving front or all-wheels while delivering 142kW and 280Nm, and sold with the five-speed Tiptronic gearbox.

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