A new 238bhp high-output diesel, a plug-in hybrid, lightweight body technology and improved connectivity touchscreen infotainment will be the technical highlights of the new Volkswagen Passat, on sale in the UK next January.

The new diesel will punch a hefty 369lb ft over a flat torque curve from 1750rpm to 2750rpm and be mated to a new high-capacity seven-speed DQ500 dual-clutch transmission.

A new high-pressure 200bar piezo-electric injector has been developed in conjunction with Bosch to deal with the very high cylinder pressure in the high-output diesel.

All-wheel drive 4Motion drive will be standard to keep the high torque output under control. Despite the high power output, Volkswagen is claiming 56mpg fuel consumption.

Read Autocar's road test review of the current Volkswagen Passat.

The diesel is the top-spec variant of a new EA288 family of diesels, starting with an entry-level 1.6-litre 118bhp unit and a 2.0-litre unit in two states of tune, 148bhp and 188bhp.

Also new in the Passat are five petrol engines from the EA211 family, featuring both alloy blocks and heads.

The range will be 1.4 123bhp, 1.4 148bhp, 1.8 177bhp, 2.0 217bhp and 2.0 276bhp. The 1.4 134bhp will be the only engine available with cylinder deactivation, which cuts output to just two cylinders, saving fuel on the move.

The new Passat is based on the latest variant of VW’s MQB, transverse front-engine platform, which also underpins the Polo and Golf.

Its dimensions are very close to the outgoing model with a length of 4767mm (2mm shorter) and height of 1456mm (14mm lower).

The engines have been canted back by 12 degrees to lower the bonnet line and the front axle moved forward to reduce the front overhang.

VW says its designers have pushed the firewall 40mm forward to increase cabin space without making the car any longer.

Heinz-Jakob Neusser, VW brand chief, says the passenger compartment is now 1830mm long, an increase that adds a useful 33mm to rear passenger knee room.

The new Passat is also lighter courtesy of detailed design to the body, engines, interior. Overall the kerb weight is reduced 83kg on one variant, with the biggest saving coming from a powertrain that’s 40kg lighter.

The Passat features a single aluminium panel for the first time, albeit it is the low-key 'parcel shelf' – the body panel behind the rear seats and under the rear screen. It's an innovation that saves 1kg.

High strength steels, including parts made with hot-rolling technology, and redesigned sill box sections, help get the weight of a bare body-in-white down by 21kg to ‘less than 280kg’.

VW is keeping images of the new Passat under wraps until closer to its reveal at the Paris motor show, but sketches shown at a technical presentation reveal a sharper-looking body with a sleeker roofline and higher quality nose with LED headlamp units neatly integrated into a subtle four-bar grille.

Two body variants will be available at launch, a four-door saloon and five-door hatch, both of which will be shown at Paris this autumn and be on sale in the UK early next year.

Both versions are said to have greater carrying capacity, the estate featuring a 650-litre boot, an increase of 47 litres.

The rear bench will split 40:20:40 to accommodate long and narrow objects such as skis and with the seats folded, objects up to 2.85m can be carried, VW says.

Also new is a revised touchscreen interface that allows sat-nav routes to be adjusted, tablet-style, by finger pressure. Also included is better integration of mobile devices, with mirroring onto the screen of some apps now possible.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: