Update - Volkswagen has announced the Passat 206TSI R-Line will be available to buy from October 17, almost a month earlier than expected. The upgraded 2017 model-year Passat range is also now on sale. See bottom of article for details
A new 2017 Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line model has been announced for Australia, combining the company's sporty styling package with more power and an all-wheel-drive layout.
The Passat line's new top-shelf sedan and wagon deliver on the power potential hinted at when the same engine appeared in the related Skoda Superb, that being a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 206kW of power and 350Nm of torque.
Pictured above and throughout: Passat with R-Line package
Although it falls a little short on the cylinder count, the 206TSI R-Line represents a nod to the heroic R36 that was offered in the pre-facelift days of the previous Passat. (The same powertrain carried on in the facelifted model's V6 FSI variant, but not as a 'proper' R model.)
In the R36, buyers were treated to all-wheel drive and a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 delivering 220kW and 350Nm - the latter coming on a lot later, at 2200rpm, than the new turbocharged 206TSI engine's 1700rpm point.
Both generations boast comparable acceleration stats, with the R36 listing an official 0-100km/h time of 5.6 seconds and the new 206TSI R-Line model sharpening that a fraction to 5.5 seconds (5.7 for the wagon).
The new model's four-cylinder turbo engine is matched to Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system, six-speed DSG transmission and adaptive chassis control system with drive-mode selection.
The expansive new 12.3-inch Active Info display that features in top-spec Passat models will also come as standard equipment in the 206TSI. There's also 19-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights.
Volkswagen Australia sales boss, Ryan Davies, said the new variants are expected to be of interest to buyers looking for a larger alternative to the Golf GTI and R models.
“You need only look around - there’s any number of lovingly maintained R36s on the road," he said.
"While the Passat remains one of our most well-appointed and comfortable cruisers, the R-Line is a genuine performance car - not just a sports kit. It’s both a worthy successor to the R36 and a car to throw a fright into the prestige brands.”
The Passat 206TSI R-Line is priced from $57,990 in sedan form and $59,990 for the wagon, both excluding on-road costs. Metallic paint can be added for $700, and a panoramic glass sunroof is available as a $2000 option.
The 206TSI makes its official Australian debut in November, but is available to order now.
Elsewhere in the Volkswagen group, the existing Skoda Superb 206TSI begins at $50,690 for the sedan and $52,690 for the wagon, again excluding on-road costs. Although more affordable, the Skoda misses out on Adaptive Chassis Control as standard equipment, offered instead as part of the $3400 Tech Pack option.
Elsewhere in the Passat range, model-year 2017 updates will include new 17-inch 'Soho' alloy wheels and autonomous emergency braking for the 132TSI model, and a memory function will be added for the driver's seat in Comfortline, Highline and Alltrack models.
NOTE: Passat with R-Line package pictured. 206 TSI photos still to come.
Update: Volkswagen has confirmed details and timing of the flagship Passat 206TSI R-Line, with the performance variant going on sale October 17, earlier than the previous November forecast.
Standard equipment includes the sporty R-Line exterior styling, dynamic LED headlights, unique badging, leather-trimmed R-Line seats, flat-bottom multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals and the 12.3-inch digital 'Active Info Display' for the driver - essentially Volkswagen's version of Audi's Virtual Cockpit.
The Passat 206 R-Line starts at $57,990 plus on-road costs for the sedan and $59,990 plus ORCs for the wagon, with the only options being metallic/pearl paint ($700) and a panoramic glass sunroof ($2000).
Meanwhile, the rest of the 2017 Passat range is on sale now, adding upgraded equipment to all variants.
For more details on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat range, click here.