Volkswagen has been spotted testing a prototype version of the upcoming Volkswagen Passat in extreme winter conditions in Europe.
The next-generation Passat will be built on Volkswagen Group's new MQB platform, which will underpin the new Audi A3, VW Golf, and scores of other Volkswagen Group vehicles.
From the spy images we can see the new model will sit on a wider track than the current model, evident by the wheel arch extensions on this early prototype.
The prototype is a bit of a mix and match of components between the current model and the new model, with most of the major body panels carried over for disguise purposes.
Despite the wider track and likely increase in cabin space, the new Passat will reportedly shed 75kg from its overall weight. This will help it to be more fuel efficient than the current model.
It's is too early to know the specifics of the powertrains at this stage, however, a string of turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel units will be offered, as well as a hybrid and, potentially, a plug-in hybrid. The hyrids are said to come with 50kW to 80kW electric motors.
Styling-wise, the next-gen Passat will feature LED daytime running lights, and a revised front end. Reports have hinted at a more three dimensional grille with bolder lines, while overall being more crisp than the current model.
The upcoming Passat will get an interior revamp too. Most of the centre dash fascia has been concealed on this test car, however, it's a sure bet underneath will be a redesigned layout, possibly incorporating MMI multi-media touchscreen technology.
A release date for the new Passat hasn't been set in stone just yet. According to industry speculation, an unveiling may occur in 2013, while sales aren't slated to commence until 2014.