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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new second-generation Volkswagen Santana has been unveiled in China, 29 years after the original utilitarian sedan went into production.

Although the name is not well known in the western world, the Volkswagen Santana was actually the first mass produced modern passenger car built in China, and has since become one of the best-selling nameplates in the country’s automotive history with almost four million units sold since domestic production began in 1983.

Despite a number of updates throughout its lifetime, the first-generation Santana always maintained its original Volkswagen ‘B2 platform’ underpinnings, which can be traced back to the Audi 80 of 1979.

The all-new Volkswagen Santana takes a multi-generational leap forward, trading its ancient architecture for a stretched version of Volkswagen’s PQ25 platform, which is used beneath the current-generation models of the Audi A1, Skoda Rapid and Volkswagen Polo.

Complying with China’s demand for maximum interior space, the new Santana offers significantly more rear-seat legroom and a larger 480-litre boot.

The exterior styling has finally arrived in the 21st century, inheriting basic cues from the German manufacturer’s global line-up, while the cabin sees familiar Volkswagen parts combine to exude a conservative yet upmarket appeal.

The Santana also takes big strides forward in terms of comfort and safety, featuring air conditioning or climate control, leather upholstery, electric sunroof, alloy wheels, parking sensors, and electronic stability control and ABS.

Two newly developed naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engines are available, including a 66kW 1.4-litre that uses 5.9 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle, and an 81kW 1.6-litre flagship that’s only marginally thirstier at 6.0L/100km.

The new engines represent a fuel consumption and CO2 emissions reduction of up to 28 per cent compared with the old model.

The new Volkswagen Santana is produced at Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive in China and will reach domestic showrooms later this year.




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