World first for Pas­sat

Blue­tooth phone link is one of the changes to the new Pas­sat, writes Stu­art Martin.

The Advertiser - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE -

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.

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