VOLKSWAGEN'S Passat is now in its eighth generation and this is one of those models which I have road-tested since its launch in 1973.
The original was a very special car for its time and over the years, the Passat concept has been continually honed and refreshed to become the stylish, lighter and very nimble car that it is today.
Everything in this latest generation is new: its design, technologies and engines. It aims to set new standards with an unladen weight that has been reduced by up to 85kg and fuel economy figures that have been improved by up to 14 per cent. In its design and in the advanced features it offers, the new Passat bridges the gap admirably between the upper medium and premium class.
At 4,767mm long, the saloon is two millimetres shorter than the previous model, while the wheelbase is 79mm longer at 2,791mm and therefore the body overhangs significantly shorter. At the same time, the Passat is 14mm lower at 1,456mm, and 12mm wider at 1,832mm.
With the latest VW ‘grin' style of grille, its lower stance give an almost predatory look and imparts a much better image for this car.
Despite cut backs on length interior space is improved, with more leg- and head-room, as well as increased luggage space.
As is so typical of VW only diesel engines were offered at the car's launch.
They range in power from a 1.6-litre, 120ps, through two 2.0-litre units with 150 or 190ps, to a range-topping 2.0-litre bi-turbo with 240ps, DSG gearbox and 4MOTION four-wheel drive.
A plug-in hybrid GTE version with a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and electric motor will follow in October this year 2015. A frugal BlueMotion with a 1.6-litre engine returning 78mpg and just 95g/km of CO2and an Alltrack Estate are also included this year.
This car was a 2.0 TDI 150ps SE Business, a model that is at the cutting edge of VW's customer appeal.
The Business trim is one five trim levels and all a high level of standard features with highlights including Post-Collision Braking System and mis-fuelling prevention on all; Front Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Crash system, Driver Profile Selection, Ergo Comfort seats and front and rear parking sensors on SE and above; and Discover Navigation on the SE Business which is aimed at fleet drivers.
New technologies include the optional Active Info Display, which replaces the instrument cluster with a fully configurable interactive 12.3-inch TFT display.
Fleet customers account for around 80 per cent of new Passats. The best-selling model is likely to be the SE with 2.0-litre TDI 150ps manual, which along with the SE Business trim is forecast to account for 60 per cent of total sales.
The new Passat uses as its base the Volkswagen Group's modular transverse platform matrix. The introduction of the strategy represents a turning point in the design and production of future automobiles with transverse-mounted engines as it standardises many vehicle component parameters - across brands and vehicle classes - and at the same time, it offers access to new technologies.
The 150psS Passat 2.0-litre TDI has a top speed of 136mph and features a 0-62mph acceleration factor 8.7 seconds.
Combined economy is a very impressive 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions are a low 106g/km.