What is it?
Part of a four-strong range of new diesel-powered Passat models slated for UK sale later this month, the roomy five-seater is poised to become a familiar sight on our roads. Or so Volkswagen would have us believe, anyway – it points to “unprecedented pre-order activity” for the new car.
The apparent optimism for the new eighth-generation model is backed up by its styling, which gives the latest Passat an instantly more up-market appearance than its predecessor.
More structured than before and with a liberal lathering of chrome, the exterior is evolutionary in design but also possesses a true air of elegance. A heavy swage line running from the front wheel arch back along the flanks, flatter roof line and more flowing C-pillar treatment stretch the car visually, while larger door apertures help to provide easier access to the cabin, both front and rear.
The various examples of the new car we drove also had terrific attention to detail, superb surface finish and excellent solidity. It may compete in the volume market, but the perceived quality of the new Passat is in many respects even more impressive than that of such highly regarded cars as the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-class.
Dimensionally, the new model is smaller than the one it replaces but, thanks to the adoption of Volkswagen’s highly flexible MQB platform structure and a significantly longer wheelbase, it manages to offer greater levels of accommodation than ever before.
As with the exterior, the interior of the new Passat also represents a significant break from the old model. It receives a more contemporary styled dashboard along with broader, newly designed seats, sizeable storage bins in the doors and centre console, a long list of standard safety features and outstanding trim quality.
The saloon version comes with a boot that has grown by 21 litres in capacity to 586 litres. The estate driven here receives an additional 47 litres to increase its load carrying space to an impressive 650 litres. This can be extended to a capacious 1780 litres when the split fold rear seats are folded away.
In place of standard analogue instruments, buyers will be able to option the new car with a state-of-the-art configurable 12.3-inch TFT colour monitor instrument pack similar to that offered on the new third-generation Audi TT, although not until mid-2015.
In another first, the new Volkswagen also gains an optional heads-up display unit that uses a separate glass panel mounted within the top of the dashboard to project relevant information into the driver’s line of sight.
Among a long list of safety technology included either as standard or optional is Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert, which warns of traffic in your blind spot; Traffic Jam Assist, which automatically accelerates and slows the car in heavy traffic up to a predetermined speed.