First Look: 2012 Volkswagen Passat

By Seyth Miersma

January 10, 2011

 Volkswagen has pulled the sheet off of its all-new 2012 Passat here at the Detroit auto show, revealing a car that the company is touting as the largest version of the model ever.

Certainly the styling of the Passat will not catch anyone by surprise—the car utilizes a very direct translation of the 2011 Jetta exterior to a larger body. Still, a rather attractive sedan, we think.

Volkswagen will offer three engine options for American buyers: a 2.5-liter five-cylinder, a 3.6-liter V-6, and the torquey 2.0-liter turbo diesel four. The VR6, V-6-equipped car will be the performance choice for Passat buyers, offering over 275 horsepower, a 0-60 time or 6.5 seconds, and a highway fuel economy figure of 28 mpg.

Talking dead aim at some of Passat’s competition within the near-luxury segment, VW is offering a impressive blend of premium accommodations, and forward-looking technology. Keyless access, remote start capability, and valet mode (locks the trunk and the glove box), are all options.

As mentioned above, the Passat is also larger than ever before. VW claims increases in interior volume thanks to bumping up the wheelbase (110.4 inches), overall length (191.7 inches), and overall width (72.2 inches). Truck capacity is up to 18.7 cubic feet.

Please scroll down to read the full Volkswagen press release.

Born in the USA:
World premiere of the largest Passat ever!

Completely redesigned Passat is built in America 4.87-metre Passat to launch in mid-August in the 20,000 dollar price range Three engines with 140 PS, 170 PS and 280 PS; TDI boosts fuel economy to 43 mpg De Silva (Italian) and Bischoff (German) created new Passat design

Wolfsburg / Herndon / Detroit, January 2011. The Jetta – its latest version has been tailored more than ever to the USA – is the most successful car in America with German technology on-board. Now, that best-seller is being followed by the world premiere of a car in the next class up − another model that Volkswagen has specifically developed for the United States: the entirely new Passat. Larger, more comfortable, more efficient and with higher quality than ever. The car’s technology and styling originate from Germany, while Volkswagen of America provided the conceptual direction. The saloon will be built in the new US plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Market launch begins in mid-August with advance sales already beginning in mid-July. Even the base version is driven by a powerful 125 kW/170 PS five-cylinder petrol engine. The other engines being offered are an extremely economical Clean Diesel (103 kW/140 PS) and an exceptionally responsive six-cylinder petrol engine (206 kW/280 PS).

Although the new Passat offers considerably more space and comfort, Volkswagen was able to reduce the price level by several thousand dollars (!) compared to the previous model. The future entry-level price will be in the 20,000 US dollar range (final prices to be announced in March). There is hardly any other saloon of this size (exactly 191.7 inches or 4,868 mm long) that offers such high technology and quality at a comparable price. At the same time, the new Passat sets benchmarks in safety, comfort and environmental friendliness. Safety: a tyre pressure monitoring system, ESP electronic stabilisation programme, ABS with braking assistant, Hill Climb Assist (with manual transmission and DSG), six airbags and an extremely safe body structure combine to form an effective occupant protection system. Comfort: here it is the significantly larger rear seating area, perfectly designed controls and superior long-distance touring properties that set the new Passat apart from the competition. Eco friendly: as a Passat TDI, the very quiet saloon achieves 43-mpg fuel economy – the best value in its class!
Features: all key features are standard

Volkswagen of America will offer the Passat in the three equipment lines S (1 & 2), SE (1 & 2) and SEL (1 & 2). Plans are also in place for a Passat SE version with a sunroof, so there is actually a total of seven equipment levels. Even the base version – the Passat S (1) – is very comfortably equipped. In addition to the safety features already mentioned, other standard features include electric windows all round, air conditioning, insulating glass, a distinctive analogue clock at the centre of the instrument panel, cruise control, outside temperature display with frost warning, radio-CD system (MP3-capable, plus external audio input) and a Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone system (with voice activation). Naturally, standard features also include details such as wireless remote control of central locking, boot opening by remote control or from the interior, and a variety of cup holders. The new Passat is also a remarkably quiet car. Along with the numerous sound- absorbing materials used throughout the vehicle, a new windshield design with an acoustic film integrated into the laminated safety glass also helps to keep out external noise.

In the S (2), SE (1 & 2) and SEL (1 & 2) equipment lines, Volkswagen produces the Passat with line-specific features such as 16-, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels (some as optional equipment), electric seat adjustment, mock or genuine leather seats, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel, Sat radio with touchscreen, “Fender” sound system, two different radio-navigation systems, front fog lights with static cornering lights, wood decor, automatic climate control, ambiance lighting and Keyless Access engine starting and locking system.

The ingenuity of the new Passat’s design is illustrated by two of its features. First feature: “Valet Parking.” If the car is to be driven by a third party, the driver simply presses the Valet Parking button in the glove compartment, removes the “Valet Parking Key” clipped inside it on the left and uses the key to lock the compartment. Now the main vehicle key can be given to the car park or hotel attendant who can then drive the vehicle but is not able to open the boot or glove compartment.

Second feature: “Remote Start.” In extreme weather conditions, the driver can start the engine (automatic or DSG transmission) by remote control (maximum ten minutes running time) to have the climate control system either cool down or heat the car’s interior to a preset temperature before driving off.

Styling: visual dominance of a large saloon
It is the balanced proportions of the new Passat that give it its entirely unique, timeless and dominant styling. Just a few precise lines suffice to define its form. These style lines are reflected par excellence in the “design DNA” developed by Italian Head of Design of the Volkswagen Group (Walter de Silva) and the German Head of Design of the Volkswagen Brand (Klaus Bischoff): clear, minimal forms and lines with a predominance of horizontal body elements. Visually, this impressive styling launches the new Passat up half a class. The bottom line: this car looks much more expensive than it actually is.
Front end: The key identifying feature of a strong brand is in the styling of its front end. Here the Passat displays the new brand face: in keeping with the “design DNA,” horizontal elements dominate the image – the grille and headlights form a single unit.

However, unlike the models of the compact class with their flatter, more flush radiator grilles, the new Passat’s grille is sculpted in a three-dimensional shape. Moreover, the grille stands more upright and makes a more distinctive and elegant impression in its stricter geometry. On the level below the painted bumper, there is another air intake that is laterally bordered by chrome-plated winglets (stylised elements similar to the wing tips of commercial aircraft). The front fog lights are integrated here. On the lowest level, there is the front spoiler. Taking cues from car racing it also features so-called splitters.
Side profile: In the sill area, a muscular seam provides for a lively interplay of light reflections. In the higher equipment line versions, the seam is framed by a narrow chrome strip that complements the chrome elements of the front and rear bumpers. At the same time, powerfully sculpted wheel arches emphasise the dynamic properties of the Passat; the smallest wheel-tyre combination for the Volkswagen: 16-inch wheels with 215/60 tyres. In the very beautiful balance of the side profile, the roof lines flow towards the back with a nearly coupé-like cut of the rear window. Three side windows create a long, extended glass surface in luxury class style that characterises the car’s side appearance.
Rear section: As at the front end, the rear section is also dominated by horizontal lines. The large taillights, whose lines rise toward the sides, underscore the dynamics of the otherwise decidedly elegant rear styling. Another unique feature here is the night design of the two-part taillights (integrated into the rear bumper and boot lid).

Interior: inside, the Passat also shows the look of considerably more expensive cars
As mentioned, the new Volkswagen has a length of 191.7 inches (4,868 mm). Its wheelbase is 110.4 inches (2,803 mm) and its width 72.2 inches (1,835 mm). So, its size has increased in all three dimensions compared to the previous model, which already offered a spacious interior. As can be expected, the new one provides even more impressive interior space. The larger wheelbase translates into a noticeable increase in rear seating space; in this aspect, the stately Passat protects its lead over its key Asian competitors. The boot also offers a lot of space with a 529-litre cargo capacity.
Like the exterior, the interior is also marked by a clean and geometric formal structure. Interior styling consistently follows the maxims of functionality. Without exception, controls are self-explanatory; every driver will be able to intuitively operate the new Passat. The instruments themselves have very clean lines, and the materials used are of high quality.

The instruments before the driver are similar to those of the Touareg; they have chrome bezels, are centrally located, and there is a digital multifunction display between the tachometer and speedometer. A high-end chrome look is also applied to the air vents in the cockpit and to the surrounds of the radio, navigation and climate control panels on the centre console. The rotary light switch and handbrake grip are also treated in chrome. Except for the base version, all other new Passats have chrome interior accents on the window lift, mirror adjustment and boot opening switches.

The upper and lower instrument areas are visually distinguished by various decorative accents, depending on the equipment version. Decorative elements in “Titan” design are used in the S versions; in the SE versions, the elegant “Titan Silver Printed” decor is used; aboard the exclusive SEL versions, it is the wood decor “Autumn Burl Brown.” The specific accents not only upgrade the instruments, but also the gearshift panel (the area between the gear lever and the front armrest) as well as the door trim panels.
The seats are exceptionally comfortable. They fit like the proverbial favourite pair of jeans. Even in the base version, the driver’s seat is height-adjustable and equipped with an adjustable lumbar support. Just like in a sports car, all controls are easy to reach − regardless of the driver’s height. This may sound banal, but it is not; it is precisely what separates the instrument layouts of vehicles that feel right and those that do not. In recent years, Volkswagen has defined its own completely new ergonomic standard, which is responsible for the brand’s enormous success globally.

Powertrain technology: three engines and the world’s most efficient automatic
Other decisive factors in the car’s global success are the exceptionally fuel-efficient engines and transmissions from Volkswagen. These high- tech components are found in the new Passat as well. It is powered by one of three torque-strong engines, all developed in Germany.

2.5-litre five-cylinder engine with 170 PS: It all begins with a 125 kW/170 PS (at 5,700 rpm) five-cylinder engine, which is being used for the first time in the Passat. With manual transmission, it accelerates the saloon to 60 mph in just 8.2 seconds. Volkswagen of America expects that about two-thirds of Passat customers will choose this engine, which is as torque-strong (maximum 240 Newton metres at 4,250 rpm) as it is fuel-efficient (32 mpg extra urban). As an alternative, the 2.5 MPI may be paired with a 6-speed automatic. In this case, fuel economy is 31 mpg; this automatic transmission version completes the sprint to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.

3.6-litre six-cylinder engine with 280 PS: A masterpiece of an entirely different kind is the six-cylinder engine with 206 kW/280 PS (at 6,200 rpm) and a maximum torque of 350 Newton metres (from 2,500 to 5,000 rpm); the 3.6-litre VR6 makes the new Passat a top-flight sports saloon that accelerates to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, offers luxury class driving comfort and shows European-type restraint in its fuel consumption, attaining 28 mpg (extra urban). Changing gear on this top model is handled by a standard 6-speed DSG; the dual-clutch transmission is considered the most efficient automatic in the world.

2.0-litre turbodiesel engine with 140 PS: Also very popular between New York and San Francisco are the brand’s fuel-efficient high-tech turbodiesels (TDI / Clean Diesel). They are among the cleanest diesel engines in the world, fulfilling emissions requirements for all 50 US states. In the new Passat a TDI with 103 kW/140 PS (at 4,000 rpm) provides the driving power. Emissions control is handled by an oxidation catalytic converter, particulate filter and SCR catalytic converter. The Passat TDI’s SCR catalytic converter converts nitrogen oxides (NOX) into nitrogen and water using the additive AdBlue.
With 320 Newton metres of maximum torque (from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm), the quiet four-cylinder common rail engine is as strong as a six- cylinder petrol engine and has the fuel economy of a hybrid: 43 mpg (extra urban) and a total driving range of nearly 800 miles are the new benchmarks. The Passat TDI completes the sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds. The TDI may be ordered with a 6-speed DSG as an option. Here too, the car attains 43 mpg in the extra urban cycle; with DSG, 0 – 60 mph acceleration is even improved to 9.1 seconds.

Model and brand in America: new Passat has potential to become US bestseller
Cars with the “VW” logo have been gracing the streets of America for over half a century. They include legendary Volkswagens such as the Beetle, Microbus, Karmann Ghia and VW Porsche 914 − all unconventional and ingeniously designed cars. Today, along with the Passat, Volkswagen offers other innovative models in the USA that include the likes of the Touareg, Tiguan, Jetta, Eos, New Beetle and CC.

The first Passats found their way to America back in 1987. Since then, over 700,000 Passats have been sold between New York and Los Angeles. Plans are in place to produce about one million new generation US Passats over the next seven years. The contrast between these two figures – 0.7 million Passats in 23 years versus 1.0 million Passats in just seven years now – makes a clear statement about the new Passat’s key role for Volkswagen of America. The company wants to triple the total annual volume of all of its USA models to about 800,000 units by 2018. Incidentally, to date over 15 million people have chosen a Passat; so this Volkswagen model series represents one of the very great successes in automotive history.

This much is certain: The latest generation saloon being presented in Detroit has the potential to significantly extend the model’s position in the USA, Canada and Mexico just like the Jetta. In the USA alone, the market for B-class saloons is forecast to grow to an annual volume of 2.5 million units by 2018 − ideal conditions for the new Volkswagen.