Test mules for the Ford Mondeo rival are hard at work cold weather testing in the Arctic circle, and a number of tweaks to the exterior are hidden behind camouflage. The front-end will be brought into line with the yet-to-be-revealed Golf, so expect reprofiled headlights and new grille and bumper designs. At the rear, redesigned tail-lamps will feature.
Inside the Passat will benefit from VW's latest infotainment system, found in the facelifted current Golf and new Touareg. It's larger, more feature-packed and brings gesture control. Expect the usual trim and material revisions, too, but it's likely Volkswagen's wide-reaching cost-cutting plan will reduce the number of trim level and engine choices.
Speaking of engines, we know for sure that VW will be drafting in the firm's new 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine in place of the old 1.4. It's plausible that diesel engine choice may shrink, although the fleet-heavy mix of Passat sales means it's still expected to be the volume fuel.
One way VW intends to decrease the Passat's CO2 emission rating is by offering the plug-in hybrid powertrain in cheaper variants than the existing GTE version, which was a victim of the WLTP emissions regulation change. The powertrain itself will receive minor improvements including a larger lithium-ion battery, allowing for a greater all-electric range. It's also likely that VW will integrate 48v mild hybrid tech into certain variants, as it will on the next Golf.