Volkswagen’s new Passat is highly electrified but not electric

Ahead of its motor show debut, Volkswagen has lifted the veils of the new Passat. It’s exclusively available as a station wagon and is no longer assembled in Germany. With beefed-up plug-in hybrid versions, a revolutionary damping system, and return-to-button controls on the steering wheel, the old namesake must straighten its back in a fast-moving European marketplace.

Officially, the car in the pictures is still a concept. But in its own words, Volkswagen announces that it is near production. All details have been undisclosed except for the price point and homologation figures for consumption.

Made in Slovakia

As Volkswagen is fully committed to the rollout of its ID family, the Passat is more than ever the brainchild of sister brand Skoda, which builds the Superb on the same basis and has been granted responsibility for further development of “old technologies”, like combustion engines.

Against that background, it shouldn’t surprise that the new Passat is no longer made in Germany. The group’s Slovakian factory in Bratislava builds it, as the Emden plant has been converted to assemble the ID.7.

As Volkswagen is developing a station wagon of the latter, there won’t be a battery-powered version of the Passat. Instead, it relies on heavily revised plug-in technology and mild hybrids.

Low versus high power

There are two PHEV versions. Both swap the older 1.4 TSI engine from the previous generation for the newer 1.5 eTSI. The low-power version has 204 hp and the high-power 272 hp, and they’re always mated to the six-speed DSG automatic. A manual version has been ditched, though the other drivelines have the newer DSG of seven ratios.

Now capable of charging at 11 kW – instead of the previous 3.6 kW – and supporting, as a first, peak power of 50 kW at fastchargers, waiting times have been reduced. At the same time, longer-distance capabilities have been improved. But the most significant enhancement comes from the battery pack underneath the backseat, growing from a net capacity of 10.6 kWh to 19.7 kWh.

This enables zero-emission travel as far as 100 kilometers, according to WLTP. For many owners, this should convert daily drives into fully electric. These specs also confirm how plug-in technology is at its peak at the pivotal point of withdrawn incentives for PHEVs all over Europe.

Redeveloped cockpit

Another first is the introduction of mild hybrid technology (48 volts). But these beginnings are humble, as it is only offered on the 1.0 eTSI of 150 hp. Conventional ICE versions, a 2.0 gasoline and a diesel with the same displacement remain available. Those opting for four-wheel drive must go for the combustion engine’s highest output versions.

Inside the wholly redeveloped cockpit, there’s no sign of the much-criticized touch surfaces of other models. Based on customer feedback, the controls on the steering wheels have returned to conventional buttons.

The new infotainment system has a freestanding display of 12,9 inches, tilted toward the driver, with menus from the new MIB4 operating system. It includes an optional head-up display. The luggage capacity has grown by 140 liters, but Volkswagen doesn’t mention if it’s on par for the PHEVs, which is the case for the BMW 5 PHEVs.

Double valved damping

According to Volkswagen, the ninth-generation Passat sits on the MQB EVO architecture and introduces a new level of road holding thanks to a two-valve damping system. This makes it possible to master the compression and rebound phases separately. Customers who want to enjoy this world premiere must order the DCC Pro from the option list.

Lastly, the new Passat introduces higher levels of automated parking. Next to smartphone control, the station wagon can register the last 50 meters covered, performing it from memory as an automated maneuver.


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