Wolfsburg - Prior to its discontinuation in the mid 1980s Volkswagen’s Passat was a popular family car. Then it came back as a more premium sedan in the late nineties and it never really took off in a big way. And now it’s going away once again.
Volkswagen SA has informed us that the facelifted Passat, just revealed in Germany, will not be coming to South Africa as the nameplate is being discontinued locally. This comes as no surprise given its low sales volumes. People just aren’t buying sedans in big volumes anymore, particularly big sedans and particularly those without premium badges on the bonnets. It’s a pity because the Passat was a highly underrated sedan.
So what exactly are we going to miss out on with the new Passat?
Visually there’s not much to tell it apart from the current model, apart from some subtle styling tweaks at the back and front, including new LED Matrix headlights, and some smarter finishes inside, so the big news is the technology that it brings to the brand stable.
To that end, it’s the first VW that’s capable of partially automated driving across practically the whole speed range, as in zero to 210km/h (remember, that’s legal on some German highways).
Also making its debut in the new Passat is Emergency Steering Assist, which uses braking assistance to lend a hand during evasive manoeuvres.
Another new-to-VW feature that Passat introduces is a capacitive steering wheel, which detects touch by the driver and provides an interactive interface to systems such as Travel Assist.
Furthermore, there’s a significantly enhanced digital instrument cluster (featuring three display configurations) and a new infotainment system that’s permanently online, and which features advanced ‘natural’ voice control and a redesigned App-Connect interface for integrating smartphone apps.
On the engine front, European customers get to choose from a wide range of petrol and diesel powerplants with outputs ranging from 88kW to 200kW, and including a redeveloped and more efficient 2.0 TDI Evo with 110kW, and a new version of the GTE plug-in hybrid with a claimed range (on the new WLTP cycle) that’s been extended to 55km.