AM Online

New Passat 'bridge to VW luxury class'

Volkswagen has given the Passat, launched in 1996, a mid-term makeover to compete with the new Ford Mondeo and Renault Laguna.

Ferdinand Piech, VW Group chairman, delighted industry gossips by having former BMW boss Berndt Pischetsrieder by his side as he presented the car. Sources in Germany say Dr Piech has already chosen his former arch rival to be his successor when he retires.

Dr Piech described the facelifted Passat as a “bridge to the luxury class”. He said Passat was moving closer to the model which VW wanted to launch in the large executive sector next year.

The Passat saloon and estate will go on sale in the UK in January. VW expects around two-thirds of sales to be saloons. More than 30,000 Passats were sold in the UK market in 1999 and, across Europe as a whole, it was the best selling car in its class.

The new car has more striking front and rear styling with a stronger bumper line and heavier front air dam. Engineers have also worked on the chassis to further improve ride and handling.

Two new versions of the high-pressure, pump diesel (PD) engines will be introduced with 100bhp and 130bhp available. Fuel economy of the less powerful unit is 5.4 litres/100km, which is exceptional for the class.

The 1.8-litre, normally aspirated, petrol engine will be dropped from the range with the 2.0-litre, 8v from the Golf GTI introduced as the entry level. The 2.3-litre V5 engine gets a 16-valve cylinder head, pushing power up to 170bhp from the existing 150bhp.

Ferdinand Piech, VW Group chairman, delighted industry gossips by having former BMW boss Berndt Pischetsrieder by his side as he presented the car. Sources in Germany say Dr Piech has already chosen his former arch rival to be his successor when he retires.

Dr Piech described the facelifted Passat as a “bridge to the luxury class”. He said Passat was moving closer to the model which VW wanted to launch in the large executive sector next year.

The Passat saloon and estate will go on sale in the UK in January. VW expects around two-thirds of sales to be saloons. More than 30,000 Passats were sold in the UK market in 1999 and, across Europe as a whole, it was the best selling car in its class.

The new car has more striking front and rear styling with a stronger bumper line and heavier front air dam. Engineers have also worked on the chassis to further improve ride and handling.

Two new versions of the high-pressure, pump diesel (PD) engines will be introduced with 100bhp and 130bhp available. Fuel economy of the less powerful unit is 5.4 litres/100km, which is exceptional for the class.

The 1.8-litre, normally aspirated, petrol engine will be dropped from the range with the 2.0-litre, 8v from the Golf GTI introduced as the entry level. The 2.3-litre V5 engine gets a 16-valve cylinder head, pushing power up to 170bhp from the existing 150bhp.

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