Volkswagen has used today’s Detroit motor show to unveil the new Passat, developed for the United States and set to be manufactured there, in Tennessee, in preparation for a massive sales push this summer.
At 4.868m long, it is just over 10cm longer than the European Passat saloon, a little wider, and the largest car ever to carry that badge.
However, the new US-market Passat is just the start of a product blitz for VW in America, confirmed the company’s US boss, Jonathan Browning.
A large seven-seat SUV, designed exclusively for America, is at the top of the list of new cars to allow the company hits its US sales targets. Brit-born Browning has aggressive plans to quadruple VW’s US sales to one million cars by 2018.
The company still has no plans to attack the domestic makers with a pick-up truck. “A pick-up is not at the top of our priority list. Not even by importing the Argentina-built Amarok,” he told Autocar.
Unlike Jettas in the US, which get simpler rear suspension set-ups than the European versions, the new American Passat has a multi-link rear suspension that’s similar to the models sold in the UK. Every body panel has been changed, though, and the dashboard, door trims and major switchgear is all new.
The decision to localise production at a facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, should allow VW to trim several thousand dollars off the starter price. The firm estimates that entry-level variants will cost from $20,000 (£12,850).