Executive saloon and estate go gentle on design changes but heavy on new technology.
by Mike Duff
5 February 2019
Volkswagen has pulled the wraps off facelifted versions of the Passat saloon and estate ahead of their public debut at the Geneva motor show.
The brand has sold close to 30 million Passats across six generations since 1973, so the changes to the tried-and-tested formula are modest.
The bumpers and lights have been tweaked, with LED lights now standard across the range, and there are new wheel designs and colour options. But the more significant changes concern technology, with a raft of assistance and connectivity upgrades.
The headline new arrival is a semi-autonomous autopilot system capable of operating at higher speeds – a Volkswagen first. Dubbed Travel Assist, this can actively steer the Passat at speeds of up to 130mph – a big advance on the 25mph limit of the Traffic Jam Assist system on the current car. Travel Assist works in conjunction with smart adaptive cruise control that can respond to speed limits, junctions and corners.
The new Volkswagen Passat is now in its eighth generation
The refocused Passat is targeting a more upmarket audience, but will need to prove itself against established performers like the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C-Class
Find an Autocar car review
Choose a makeAbarthJACAllardAlfa RomeoAlpinaAlpineArielAscariAston MartinAudiBACBentleyBMWBorgwardBowlerBugattiBYDBytonCadillacCaparoCaterhamChangan AutoChevroletChryslerCitroenCupraDaciaDallaraDavid BrownDodgeDSEagleElementalEternitiFerrariFiatFiskerFordGreat WallGeelyGinettaGumpertHennesseyHondaHongqiHyundaiInfinitiIsuzuItalDesignJaguarJeepJIAKen OkuyamaKiaKoenigseggKTMLadaLamborghiniLanciaLand RoverLexusLincolnLotusLynk & CoMahindraMarcosMaseratiMaybachMazdaMcLarenMercedes-AMGMercedes-BenzMercedes-MaybachMG MotorMiniMiaMitsubishiMorganMS-RTMurrayNextEVNioNissanNobleOldsmobileOpelPaganiPeroduaPeugeotPininfarinaPorscheProtonQorosRadicalRamRenaultRimacRiversimpleRoeweRolls-RoyceRoverSaabSeatSenovaShelbySinSkodaSmartSpykerSRTSsangyongSSCSubaruSuzukiTataTeslaTigerToniqToyotaTriumphTushekTVRVauxhallVencerVeritasVolkswagenVolvoVuhlWestfieldWeyZenosZenvoZolfeZoyte
Then a model
Driven this week
6 February 2019
Peugeot 5008 long-term review
Our latest seven-seater has a lot to live up to, as it replaces the Skoda..
5 February 2019
Volkswagen Arteon long-term review
Is this a shrewd, lower-cost route to sleek four-door luxury motoring? Let’s..
4 February 2019
Kia Ceed 2019 long-term review
The latest Ceed is the best yet. But is it now good enough to be a real..
The new MIB3 infotainment system has a permanent data connection and brings the option of a digital instrument display. Users of iPhones will be able to access Apple CarPlay without a connection cable, plus Volkswagen is planning to allow smartphone key access to the car, although only with Samsung devices for now.
Mechanical changes are limited. The 148bhp 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine from the current car will continue to be the base petrol powerplant, with 187bhp and 268bhp versions of the 2.0 TSI turbocharged petrol unit above it. All are now fitted with particulate filters.
Four diesels will be offered: a 1.6 TDI with 118bhp; a new 148bhp 2.0 TDI Evo with selective cylinder deactivation; a 187bhp 2.0 TDI without the cylinder shutdown; and a carried-over version of the current 237bhp BiTDI unit. The GTE plug-in hybrid will continue and has been given a bigger battery, rising from 9.9kWh to 13.0kWh.
Volkswagen predicts an electric-only range of up to 34 miles under the WLTP testing regime. That’s around 12 miles more than the current GTE and enough for continued exemption from London’s congestion charge. Volkswagen estimates it could take up to 25% of Passat sales, up from 10% previously.
The saloon and estate versions of the facelifted Passat will go on sale at the same time, as will the off-road-styled Alltrack. The current entry-level S grade has been dropped, and pricing is expected to increase by £1000 across the board, with sales starting in June.
Q&A STEFAN GIES, PRODUCT CHIEF
What are the technical differences between the old 2.0 TDI and the new 2.0 TDI Evo diesel engines?
“The core architecture is very similar, but in the EA288 Evo we have made many efficiency improvements – for example, reduced friction, high-efficiency crank, optimised air parts for charged air and steel pistons with a longer piston rod. We have a two-way cooling system for a cool cylinder head and a warm crankcase.”
Why are there no mild hybrid systems at this stage?
“A mild hybrid system needs major changes inside the car’s architecture – for example, an additional 48V system. In a product revision, we don’t have the possibility to make such big modifications.”
Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate long-term review: a test of toughness
Volkswagen Passat 2019 facelift to bring new tech and improved hybrid
Insight: 11 Volkswagen saloons you’ve never heard of
Join the debate
Bit busy inside.
6 February 2019
Nice updates but the interior is a bit busy, lots of straight lines.