1 May 2001
By CHRIS HARRIS
Detailed body updates, but few alterations underneath, sum up the Volkswagen Passat’s mid-term makeover.
It arrived from mid-’01 initially with two engine choices – a turbo-charged 110kW/210Nm 1.8-litre DOHC 20V 1.8T in sedan and wagon guises, as well as a 140kW/260Nm 2.8-litre DOHC 30V V6 sedan and wagon.
The V6s were also available in front-wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive that VW dubbed ‘Synchro’.
With over 2300 new parts on offer, the beefed-up Passat’s changes run deeper than they seem. Externally only the old car’s front doors and roof remain.
On the safety front there are upgraded dual front and side airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, an emergency central locking release and fuel pump cutout mechanism, anti-lock brakes with brake force assist, and traction control.
From October ’02 VW discontinued the four-cylinder Passat, electing for the 125kW/220Nm 2.5-litre DOHC 30V V5 mated to a five-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox.
The 140kW/260Nm 2.8 V6 sedan and wagon models in either front or four-wheel drive continued.
In May 2003 VW launched an unsuccessful assault on the luxury segment in the 202kW/370Nm Passat W8. In spite of a full specification list (including Xenon headlights, quattro all-wheel drive, satellite navigation, stability control, leather trim and a sunroof), the $100,000 price tag kept customers away.
VW drastically pared back the range in mid-’04, leaving only a V5 sedan, and V6 sedan and wagons, all with front-wheel drive.