2012 VW Passat Surfaces

For the last year or so, the rumor mill has been churning out a lot of fluff, but very little substance.  About the only thing which was known for sure was that the new Volkswagen was code-named the NMS, or New Mid-sized Sedan.  Last week, VW came out and said that the NMS was in fact the replacement Passat, and that it was keeping the name.  Click past the jump for pictures, details and my impressions.

With the aging Passat design, VW realized it needed to do something for its mid-sized offering in the United States.  The result of their ground-up redesign is seen here in pictures, but the real story is in the unseen details.  The new Passat will be built in Tennessee, in a $4 billion dollar plant that VW has created.  Instead of a global Passat as it has been, the Passat seen here will be US-only.  Other markets will continue to receive the “B7” Passat which went on sale in November of 2010.  But enough about its past, let’s break down the new model and see what’s what.

Starting with a highly-revised front end, which appears patterned after the new Jetta, the new Passat would pass for a German version of the Ford Taurus, at least in profile.  It’s definitely a stylish car, with a crease close to the bottom of the doors, and one again at the belt line.  The rear end of the car looks cribbed from the Audi design paradigm.  Despite these visually attractive cues, the new car has a bland look to it, which may or may not bode well for it.  Given its new purpose, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.  Don’t get me wrong – the new Passat is still a good-looking car, it’s just not sexy.

Looking inside, the new Passat has more Taurus cues to it – the split-level dashboard and wood grain go a long way to back this statement up, but the materials look decidedly upmarket from what is found in Ford’s large sedan.

The seats look like they were pulled from the Passat CC, which is a great idea, as those seats are far superior to what was found in the previous Passat, and add a lot of personality to the car.

When it comes to engines and other mechanical bits, you can be sure it’ll have a German feel to it, even though the car is US-built.  Keeping with tradition, a diesel engine will be offered, with a claimed 43 mpg on the highway – besting even most hybrids!  The base 4-cylinder should have adequate power, but the optional 3.6-liter V6 will be the better choice for hustling to and from work, while still achieving a decent 28 mpg.

Volkswagen has a goal of significantly increasing its market share and volume of sales by mid-decade, and the Passat is a key part of this.  Whereas the outgoing Passat and its predecessors have been niche products, the new Passat looks to break out of this, which is probably why the more conservative, Audi-esque design was greenlighted.  With an estimated starting price of $20,000, the Passat is sure to turn heads, at least in the bang-for-the-buck category.

Standard features will include power windows, insulating glass, and a huge surprise for this segment: automatic climate control.  I’m a huge fan of this luxury, as it makes driving much more comfortable than having to constantly fiddle with knobs and buttons as I drive.  To see it standard in a car under $25-30,000 is just amazing, and shows how far certain creature comforts have come in the last decade.

Look for the new Passat at Volkswagen dealers in late Spring, with pricing to be announced in early Spring, 2011.

Show Press Release

by John Suit

Source: Volkswagen

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