What is it?
The new, eighth-generation VW Passat – which has quietly become a very important model for Volkswagen. Only a handful of cars have ever had the lasting popularity to break through the 20 million mark on cumulative worldwide sales. Volkswagen’s made three all on its own.
If you’d pick the Passat as Wolfsburg’s third sales titan, you’re smarter than me. In China, they would; North America, perhaps. Us Europeans may not realise it but, on the back of huge success in those markets in particular, the Passat (and its derivatives) has now become the fastest-selling VW on the planet.
Success breeds confidence – and the new eighth-generation Passat, which is coming to UK showrooms early next year, though orders open this month - reeks of it. This is still a deeply conventional, conservative, evolutionary car, as you’d expect of something so established – but it’s ambitious.
VW’s intent is clearly to present the mature European markets with a genuine alternative to a fully-fledged, premium-branded compact executive option; something that asks them to trade just a touch of brand cachet for the sort of quality, refinement, comfort, technology and space that better sets a car apart.
This time around, VW’s versatile MQB platform forms the basis of the car – and brings with it some telling gains. On average, 85kg has been saved from each version of the Passat in the jump between generations, while the car’s interior and exterior designers benefitted from the opportunity to stretch the wheelbase while simultaneously making the car shorter, lower and wider.
Cabin length is up by 33mm, and rear headroom by almost as much, and available boot space grows too.