Evolution, not revolution, is at the heart of the Passat’s exterior design. You’d expect nothing else for a model with worldwide appeal (including places as conservative as China) and, besides, VW now makes the CC for those who want a more rakish saloon. The next generation CC is said to follow the same design cues that have been exhibited on the Sport Coupé GTE, which includes angular headlights and abrupt nose.
It’s under the skin where the Passat is more noteworthy. This Passat is just 2mm shorter than the one it replaces, but housed within the 4767mm length is a wheelbase that’s 79mm longer than before, allowing the rear cabin to be larger. Across the range, VW claims the latest car is up to 85kg lighter than the outgoing one thanks to the use of Volkswagen’s MQB platform, which also underpins the latest Volkswagen Golf.
There was a time when a platform could be stretched across only a narrow range of models. The old Golf platform couldn’t be used for the Passat, for example. But the pace of development and intelligent use of high-strength materials means that’s no longer the case.
On the MQB platform, the distance between the centre line of the suspension and the front bulkhead is fixed, because that’s where all of the hard structural work is done in crash protection and packaging the major mechanicals. Beyond that, VW can pick whichever dimensions it likes, so the front overhang, rear overhang and space between the wheels, including behind the B-pillars, are all open to change.
Hence, even on cars badged as Volkswagens alone, MQB will, within this model cycle, be good for the Polo, Beetle, Golf, Scirocco, Jetta, Tiguan, Touran, Sharan, Passat and CC. Theoretically, despite different wheelbases and track widths, they – and MQB cars from the other VW-owned brands – could all roll down the same production line. Even the GTE Passat uses the same underpinnings despite its hybrid inclinations.
For the Passat, the estate (which will take just over half of UK Passat sales) has the same wheelbase, length and width as the saloon but sits 21mm higher, at 1477mm.