There was no shortage of fanfare and pizzazz last night at VW Group’s pre-Paris show preview – cars entering stage driving through flames, beneath faked rainfall, rolling down a mock ski slope, exploding out of a parcel, scooting beneath a 100m-long sheet, rising from beneath the floor or emerging alongside pre-war Bugattis in a mocked-up historic garage.

Then there was the new Volkswagen Passat, which was just driven onto stage accompanied by a whiff of dry ice.

This is the seventh-generation Passat, new at skin level and re-engineered beneath; saloon and estate variants go on sale at the same time, in January 2011 in the UK.

Drivetrains are as you’d expect – though economy is improved by up to 18 per cent over the current model thanks to the likes of stop-start and part-time alternators.

It’d be easy to be a bit mean about this car, because, as enthusiasts, I suspect that it won’t necessarily light our fire. But let’s face it, there are people who drive 30,000 miles a year or more whose only requirement is that they’ll feel almost as good getting out of a car as they did getting into it eight hours earlier.