World first for Passat
Bluetooth phone link is one of the changes to the new Passat, writes Stuart Martin.
HI-TECH features with no hike in asking price will be baiting the hook Volkswagen hopes will catch more Passat buyers next year. The seventh generation B7 Passat – which is more like a B6.5 MY11 style of update – goes on sale in Australia during the second quarter of next year.
The Passat nameplate has been attached to more than 15 million cars since its debut in 1973, making it one of the most successful cars of all time, Volkswagen says.
Chief among changes likely to be noticed in Australia will the longawaited addition of Bluetooth phone link as standard, with the fatigue detection system also going range wide. VALUE: Pricing is likely to remain unchanged – a reflection of the unchanged engine-line-up for the new model range in Australia – meaning it kicks off with the $39,000 118 TSI 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol, the 125 TDI two-litre turbodiesel and the outgoing R36’s 3.6-litre petrol V6, with scope to include the 1.6-litre TDI BlueMotion. TECHNOLOGY: The Passat in its home market will feature 19 new safety and assistance systems, some of which we are likely to get in Australia – fatigue detection – but Volkswagen Australia says it is looking at the other features for the options list, like front assist with city emergency braking function, the Easy Open boot lid, Park Assist mark two, lane change and lighting assistance systems, although the traffic sign detection system doesn’t appear to be headed for Australia.
Volkswagen says it’s a world first in this class to offer a fatigue detection system that is featured on the Passat, which will be standard on Australiabound Passats.
The car monitors steering-wheel angle, pedal use and transverse acceleration and compares them to the data from the start of the trip and decides if the driver needs a break.
The P a s s a t is also the first Volkswagen ever to have a City Emergency braki ng function – part of the adaptive cruise control plus Front Assist c o l l i s i o n war n i n g and avoidance system – that’s active below 30km/h and automatically brakes the car to avoid or reduce the damage of a front-end impact.
The active cruise control’s upgrade now gives Passat buyers a warning system that uses the radar to monitor conditions more than 100m ahead and warns the driver – first audibly and then with a brake jolt – of an impending impact, before dropping speed and prepping brakes for an emergency stop, offering full brakeforce to the driver.
Other clever systems on offer include upgraded Park Assist auto perpendicular and parallel parking system and the Easy Open boot. A driver with arms full of gear but key in pocket can ‘‘kick’’ their foot beneath the rear bumper to automatically pop the boot lid – expect it on the options list for both sedan and eventually the wagon.
All 10 engines on offer in Europe have reduced thirst – thanks largely to weight reduction – by up to 18 per cent, but only the diesel engine bound for Australia will also feature stop-start; brake energy regeneration will feature on petrol and diesel. DESIGN: The nose has taken the incoming Jetta’s snout and the rear has more than a little inspiration (for the sedan at least) from the Phaeton flagship.
Interior design is familiar to those who have spent any time in the other new models from Volkswagen, with only minor changes to the fascia and buttons around the gearshifter and some minor aesthetic tweaks to the dashboard. The wagon is also equipped with a variable-height boot floor and a rear lever system to drop the second row of seats for larger loads. SAFETY: In addition to the new safety systems, the Passat has two-stage dual front and side airbags for the front row, full-length side curtain airbags and the availability of rear side airbags and a rear seat belt indicator. DRIVE: The updated Passat has many similarities to the outgoing B6 vehicle – in fact, the facelifted and upgraded B7 is perhaps more a B6.5, but that’s not a bad thing.
The refinement and revamping of a proven and trusted package is what’s happened, albeit with a new-look exterior to keep it looking like part of the family.
The company’s emphasis on smooth, quiet and refined is backed up by the first few minutes of driving, with extra soundproofing and insulated glass resulting in a cabin devoid of road, engine and wind noise.
On Spanish roads, the adjustable suspension – which has undergone minor tuning changes – delivers a wellcontrolled and comfortable ride, with minimal quality loss in Sport mode.
The engineering spin that boasted a strong, more rigid bodyshell is backed by the drive, with the impression of a taut and strong body; there’s also no ‘‘booming’’ noise from the open rear cargo area that sometimes sullies a wagon.
The turbodiesel (teamed with the sixspeed DSG) is an excellent powerplant – as seen in the new Golf GTD and current Passat.
The more intuitive DSG programming reduces hesitation and the insulation from noise and unwanted road intrusions; the sedan has a good-size boot but it’s also easy to see why the wagon is getting more than half of the Passat’s sales. VERDICT: A well-sorted and equipped package that feels capable of carrying the family and eating up the miles with ease, the new Passat carries the company look a little easier than the incoming Jetta and should – if appropriately equipped and priced – contribute well to Volkswagen’s increased volume aspirations.