The refreshed mid-sizer gets major technology update, tweaked looks and more electric range in plug-in hybrid variants. European sales kick off in May, with Australian deliveries to commence around November/December.
Volkswagen has revealed the updated 2020 Passat range this week, sporting a range of equipment and technology upgrades in addition to minor design revisions.
While it may not look all that different, the Passat has received a raft of new assistance and infotainment technologies to re-assert it as a flagship model in the Volkswagen stable, after being knocked down a rung or two by the related Arteon and larger Touareg SUV.
Headlining the changes is the new 'IQ.Drive' driver assistance and active safety suite – Volkswagen has rebranded its autonomous drive functions under this new label.
The company says the Passat is the first model in its range to offer "partially automated driving across practically the whole speed range (0-210km/h)", combining the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping systems to form 'Travel Assist'.
Volkswagen says the adaptive cruise control function also reacts to speed limits, bends, roundabouts and junctions with corresponding speed adaptation using front-facing camera and GPS data.
Emergency Steering Assist also debuts in the new Passat, which uses the brakes to maintain vehicle control during "sudden evasive manoeuvres", while vision is improved with the available new Matrix LED headlights, dubbed 'IQ.Light'.
Aesthetically, the updated Passat gets new bumpers front and rear, a revised 'Passat' rear logo, along with redesigned LED head- and tail-light units now included as standard.
Vehicles fitted with the Matrix LED IQ.Light system also get sweeping indicators at the front and rear.
Inside, the Passat gets a range of new appointments, including a new range of trims and finishers, an updated version of the company's Active Info Display, and an upgraded infotainment system.
The second-gen Active Info Display now measures 11.7 inches, and offers "better graphic performance, greater pixel density, improved brightness and contrast as well as more intense colours" – as you may have gathered, it's better than the last one.
Compared to the previous iteration, which stuck with either small or large dials with information displayed in the centre, drivers can now choose from three layouts that offer a greater degree of customisation and more distinct looks.
Nestled in the centre stack is the third generation of Volkswagen's Modular Infotainment Matrix (MIB3), which offers cloud-based apps and services, and the availability of wireless Apple CarPlay integration.
The Passat GTE plug-in hybrid (above) has been upgraded with a 13.0kWh battery pack (up from 9.9kWh), a 31 per cent improvement. Volkswagen claims the zero-emissions range has been improved to 55 kilometres on the WLTP cycle, equating to around 70km on the old NEDC cycle – 20km greater than the outgoing model.
As before, the GTE combines a 115kW 1.4 TSI turbo petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor, making for a system power output of 160kW, with drive sent to the front wheels via a six-speed DSG automatic tailored to hybrid vehicles.
When connected to a conventional 230V/2.3kW charger, the Passat GTE's battery pack will fully charge in 6 hours 15 minutes, dropping to around four hours with a 360V/3.6kW wall box or charging station.
Three driving modes allow owners to tailor the petrol-electric system to their tastes – E-Mode, GTE and Hybrid. E-Mode is for pure-electric driving (the vehicle always starts in this mode if the battery is charged sufficiently), GTE uses full system power for more sporting performance, while Hybrid is the more conventional profile that shifts between the two power sources as required.
Joining the updated range is the revised Passat Alltrack wagon (above), described as a "progressive all-rounder that comes into its own when the going gets rough".
Like its lower-riding siblings, the Alltrack gets a design makeover inside and out, and is offered with three powertrains overseas: a 200kW 2.0 TSI petrol, a 140kW 2.0 TDI diesel, and a 176kW 2.0 TDI bi-turbo diesel.
All versions come as standard with permanent 4Motion all-wheel drive, mated to a seven-speed DSG. Ground clearance is rated at 172mm for Alltrack variants, which is 2mm lower than the measurement given for current Australian-delivered models.
The wider range is available with a total of seven powertrains (three petrol, four diesel) if you exclude the aforementioned GTE.
Petrol power comes in the form of the 110kW 1.5 TSI, the 140kW 2.0 TSI, and the 200kW 2.0 TSI.
Meanwhile, there's an 88kW 1.6 TDI, a 110kW 2.0 TDI Evo, a 140kW 2.0 TDI and the 176kW 2.0 TDI (bi-turbo).
All petrol versions get a particulate filter in Europe, while diesels are all fitted with a particulate filter and SCR catalytic converter.
Volkswagen's local division has confirmed the updated Passat will be coming Down Under, with new models likely to hit showrooms around November and December.
As for the engine line-up, Australia will get a new 162TSI petrol engine for the Alltrack and Highline, borrowed from the Tiguan SUV.
The Australian arm has also confirmed a new 140TSI petrol engine for base models, while the 206TSI 4Motion wagon will continue to serve as the flagship variant. As before, the GTE won't be coming here, nor will the diesels.
Finally, the MIB3 infotainment system will also be available locally, likely on higher variants.
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