- All-new 2015 VW Passat promises a more sporty look
- New model loses weight, drinks less fuel and is packed with clever kit
- Volkswagen reckons it will park better than most humans too
The Volkswagen Passat is something of a permanent fixture on company car choice lists up and down the country.
There’s now a brand new one on the way – it’ll be unveiled at the Paris motor show in Autumn this year and will go on sale in the UK early in 2015.
With the current Passat a very good but arguably not very exciting product, will the next-generation model have a bit more sparkle for company car drivers to look forward to? We’ve attended a technical preview of the new Passat at VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg to find out – here are a few highlights.
More stylish looks
Volkswagen has only released the three teaser sketches you can see in the gallery here so far, but if they’re anything to go by the new Passat will look less dowdy than the old one.
The roofline is lower by 14mm than the current car and the new Passat will also sit on larger wheels so it should stand out a bit more in the company car park. Despite the larger rims the turning circle will remain the same.
Also helping the car stand out are clever new headlights. While base models will come with halogen headlamps, higher-spec versions will get a sophisticated all-LED setup.
Volkswagen was one of the first manufacturers to release cars with automatic switching between high and low beam and the new Passat takes that a stage further.
Top models will be available with a camera within the headlamp itself which can detect traffic ahead and blank the light’s beam to illuminate their surroundings without dazzling them directly. The lens can also adjust the beam’s path according to the car’s speed and trajectory.
All models will come with all-LED tail-lights, which have a party trick of their own – when braking very hard, the brake lights’ pattern will change to help alert vehicles behind.
Cheaper to run
Since the new Passat is smaller, lighter and more efficient than before, CO2 emissions are down (by more than 20 percent on some models, VW says) and distances between fill-ups at the pumps are up.
Exact CO2 figures are yet to be released but the lowest of the range will no doubt belong to the plug-in hybrid version which will have an electric-only range of 31 miles and a total range of more than 600 miles.
A wide range of petrol and diesel engines will be available – which ones are coming to the UK are yet to be confirmed.
More room and a bigger boot
Although the new car will be shorter and lower there will be greater head and knee room for front and rear passengers. Like before, there will be both a saloon and an estate version – a ‘CC’ coupe version will follow a year or so later.
The estate will have an enormous 650-litre boot, with extra space being freed up by being able to slide the rear seat bench forward.
It will be possible to position the boot floor in two positions and fold hinged sections of the floor into different partitions to stop shopping rolling around the boot. If you need to carry very heavy items, a sliding floor panel on runners will be available to help with loading and unloading.
While the old Passat had an ‘easy-open’ tailgate, which could be opened automatically by waving your foot underneath the rear bumper. The new Passat will feature the same system but can also be closed automatically – helpful if you’re grappling with heavy objects in the rain, for example.
Latest infotainment tech
Three multimedia systems will be available: a basic five-inch colour screen; a 6.5-inch screen with sat-nav and voice control; and an eight-inch screen with a 10GB hard disc drive and ‘rubberband’ – the ability to stretch and alter sat-nav routes on the screen with your finger.
As with some systems on current Passat, you’ll be able to connect two phones at once via Bluetooth. Rear passengers will also be able to connect to the system via tablets and remotely choose the music and program the sat-nav, for example.
The same Mirrorlink system for Android phones used in the new VW Polo will be available, although there won’t be an equivalent system for Apple phones at first.
There will also be a smart widescreen digital instrument panel in place of traditional dials.
New safety systems
The radar cruise control system has been refined to the point where in Passat’s with an automatic gearbox it can not only stop the car but also move off in traffic automatically.
Lane Assist, which automatically adjusts the steering to keep the car in its lane has been improved too and can operate at lower speeds, and the latest version of Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection is fitted.
There will also be an ‘Emergency Assist’ function, whereby if the driver loses consciousness at the wheel the car will firstly sound a warning, then briefly pump the brakes in an effort to wake the driver up, before bring the car to a standstill within its lane using a combination of the radar cruise control and lane assist systems if there is no response from the driver.
It can park better than most humans (says Volkswagen)
Volkswagen describes itself as the ‘inventor’ of self-parking systems (where the car steers itself while the driver looks after the pedals) and the new Passat features ‘Park Assist 3.0’, which can manage smaller spaces than before and even park itself while hitched up to a trailer.
So there you go: the new Passat will be a veritable tech fest. We’ll be testing it to find out if it’s also a more characterful and rewarding car to drive and own than the current one – check back for our full 2015 Volkswagen Passat review towards the end of the year – but the signs are that this will be a very impressive car indeed.
You can read more about the 2015 Volkswagen Passat in our preview here.