New Volkswagen Passat revealed as SUV alternative SA won’t get

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the ninth generation Passat will only be offered as an estate and without a manual gearbox for the first time.

Its future having been in doubt ever since rumours of its departure started emerging three years ago, Volkswagen, on the back of releasing a slew of teaser images last month, has officially unwrapped the all-new ninth generation Passat destined solely for Europe.

Known by internal moniker B9, the replacement for the B8 that went on-sale nine years ago, breaks from tradition as it, together with its sibling, the Skoda Superb, will be offered solely as an estate due to the sedan being replaced by the all-electric ID.7.

While reported two years ago has possibly heading the same route as the Opel Insignia by being availed as an estate and a coupe-styled hatchback, the latter not offered on a Passat since the second generation ended production in 1985, the eventual decision to stick with the Variant estate comes on the back of it accounting for more sales than the sedan on the Old Continent.

Debuting in the early hours of Thursday morning (31 August), which marks exactly five decades since the debut of the original B1 Passat, the B9 not only debuts as a styling preview of the next generation Tiguan, but also as one of Wolfsburg’s last new models with an internal combustion engine.

A name of which 34-million units have sold worldwide since 1973, the Passat Variant rides on the updated MQB Evo platform and measures 4 917 mm long, 1 852 mm wide and 1 506 mm tall.

Riding on a wheelbase stretching 2 841 mm, the Passat retains the same height as its estate predecessor, but with respective length gains of 50 mm and 144 mm, in addition to its width increasing by 20 mm.

In addition to its new architecture, the XDS electronic front differential debuts for the first time, along with the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system that can be upgraded to the adaptive DCC Pro as an option.

As per the advantages of an estate over a sedan, the dimensional uptakes translate to 40 more litres of boot space with the rear seats for a total of 690-litres, and a sizeable increase of 140-litres to 1 920-litres with the split rear back folded down.

Its styling seemingly having been influenced by the Chinese-market Lamando, the Passat’s interior represents an equally big departure from the B8 as Volkswagen has opted a minimalistic design by moving most of the key functions to the new driver-angled 12.9-inch or optional 15-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Equipped as standard with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster regardless of the trim level, the Passat boasts a new steering wheel without the much criticised touch-sensitive buttons, more premium materials and a slim-line centre console minus a gear lever.

Part of Volkswagen’s phasing-out of the manual gearbox by 2030, a standard fitting on every generation Passat since the original, the B9 comes standard with a DSG selected by means of a lever mounted on the steering column.

Along with new seats available with an optional massaging function, as well as heating and ventilation, the digital slider controls for the climate control now feature improved illumination with the final nuance being an optional Head-Up Display depending on the trim level.

Depending on the model, notable safety and driver assistance systems consist of Lane Change Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Dynamic Traffic Sign Display, Front Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Park Assist and the semi-autonomous Travel Assist.

Set to be offered in four trim levels; base, Business, Elegance and R Line – the latter equipped with the R Line bumpers and door sills, 18-inch alloy wheels, the otherwise optional new Matrix I.Q. LED headlights and R Line branded sport seats – Volkswagen has furnished the Passat with no less than seven engines ranging from to petrol, to diesel and hybrid.

On the petrol side, the 1.5 TSI Evo with cylinder deactivation delivers an unchanged 110kW/250Nm, while the latest evolution of the long serving 2.0 TSI can be had in two states of tune; 150kW/350Nm and 195kW/400Nm.

Next up, the so-called eTSI combines with the 1.5 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, but without impacting on the 110kW/250Nm outputs.

Serving as the diesel option, the heavily upgraded 2.0 TDI now meets Euro 7 emissions regulations and can be specified in three states of tune; 90kW/250Nm, 110kW/360Nm and 142kW/400Nm.

Completing the range, the new eHybrid replaces the GTE and combines the 1.5 TSI with a 19.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack powered by an unspecified electric motor integrated into the DSG ‘box.

The result is a combined system output of 150 kW or 200 kW fed to the front wheels only through a six-speed DSG rather than the seven all other models utilise.

Supporting charging up to 50 kW, the eHybrid has a claimed all-electric range of “around 100 km” and ships standard with an 11 kW charger as opposed to the 3.6 kW outlet the GTE came with.

Besides the higher output TSI and TDI that feature the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system as standard, the remainder of the Passat range are all front-wheel-drive.

Not heading this way

Confirmed to make its public at next month’s Munich Motor Show with production taking place alongside the incoming Superb at the Bratislava Plant in Slovakia that also manufactures the Touareg and Audi Q7, pricing for the Passat hasn’t been disclosed and will most likely only be revealed once sales commence in the first quarter of next year.

Dropped from South Africa in 2019, and as a result of now being produced solely as an estate, don’t expect the Passat to return anytime soon as an alternative to the new Tiguan that is expected to become a reality in 2024.

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