The new generation Passat can now also be ordered with permanent 4MOTION four-wheel drive. It will be available at first with two engines: In the two-litre class, customers can choose between the 2.0l 110 kW/150 hp direct-injection petrol engine or the 2.0l 103 kW/140 hp turbo diesel engine. The diesel version is also available with a diesel particulate filter.
Generation One of this bestseller made its first appearance in 1973. It is a fact that within the past three decades this Volkswagen has become the very image of automotive progress, representing what “Made in Germany means. This image is characterized by vehicle size, drive technologies, safety features such as airbags, ABS and ESP in addition to quality details including galvanized bodies.
The Passat is now more than just a middle-class saloon. It has matured into a car with a character, into a perfect companion through more than three decades. The rational qualities of the product line have been consistently perfected in the new Passat. At the same time, however, the development team has breathed new passion and pulsating liveliness into this Passat through an uncompromising combination of shape, functionality, design and ergonomics.
The 2006 Volkswagen Passat is redesigned with a longer wheelbase and a wider body featuring a new medallion-shaped grille and clear high-tech headlights. Inside the Passat interior if more functional and ergonomic, with more rear-seat legroom and new rear vents heat and air conditioning. The Passat is powered by a new 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged intercooled engine delivering 207 lb-ft of torque from 1800 to 5000 rpm. The 280-hp VR6 narrow-angle V6 engine returns and is mated to a refined six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and sport mode. The Passat wagon and 4Motion all-wheel-drive sedan will be available later in the model year.
Longer and wider than last year’s model, the 2006 Passat offers more interior space, particularly for rear-seat passengers. A six-foot passenger can sit comfortably behind a six-foot driver. And while the previous model was among the safest cars in America, the structure of the new Passat is substantially stronger.
The new Passat offers sportier handling than last year’s model. The steering is very precise with steering effort that automatically adjusts to the situation. The new 3.6-liter narrow-angle V6 growls when pressed and delivers robust torque, allowing the Passat to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds. The six-speed automatic is smooth and responsive and the brakes are excellent.
32 years ago, Volkswagen presented the first Passat, which was to become a bestseller. Meanwhile, five generations and more than 13 million of this successful vehicle have been sold world-wide. Let’s turn back the clock to July 1973.
This is when Volkswagen introduced the successor of the “1600” and “411” models on the market. A modern hatchback saloon with front-wheel drive and a front-mounted, lengthways inline engine. Water-cooled! The horse before the cart. Sensational. Because up to then, with the exception of the K70, the rear-mounted, air-cooled boxer engine had dominated the history of the Volkswagen.
Of course, the Beetle was still there. And how! But the future lay with this Passat, with its superior drive and body concept. One thing is certain: it was a good product. Under the bonnet, petrol engines of up to 63 kW / 85 bhp provided pretty agile propulsion. But you would have needed a crystal ball, if anything, to see that, generations later, there would be up to 132 kW / 180 bhp V6 TDI engines or a W8 with 202 kW / 275 bhp.
Right in the first full year on the market (1974), 133,000 customers decided on a Passat, and as early as December 1976 a million Passats had been sold.
In 1977, while the Bee Gees unleashed the disco craze in Germany with Stayin’ Alive in Saturday Night Fever, Volkswagen presented the stylistically and aerodynamically optimised Passat – still the first generation, but with a classic facelift. Plastic-coated bumpers were an outward characteristic of the series from then on; inside, many components were ergonomically improved.
In March 1978, the 1.5-litre diesel engine (37 kW / 50 bhp) that had proved successful in the Golf followed for the Passat. 7.5 litres average consumption – a lot less with careful driving – heralded a new world of economical cars. In April 1980, the Passat shot through the two-million barrier in terms of units sold. When the successor was introduced in late autumn, the Passat was already assured of its place in motoring history with 2.6 million units.
November 1980 saw the debut of the second generation of this sensationally successful middle-class model. It was a new design: larger, more aristocratic, more grown-up. The Passat had now separated from the Audi 80, and was making its own way. In the second generation of the Passat, Volkswagen remained faithful to the successful hatch-back saloon, but this time presented the new Variant at the same time. Both versions were technologically exciting, with a new, innovative compound-arm rear axle.
A particularly economical unit, the new 1.6-litre diesel with 40 kW / 54 bhp made its first appearance; in August 1982 the power of this self-starter was to climb to 51 kW / 70 bhp with the first turbo diesel in the Passat. Right from market introduction, the Passat was available with its first five-cylinder petrol engine (85 kW / 115 bhp). The same year saw the debut of a classic Passat saloon with four doors and a conventional boot: the Santana. Parallel to this, more and more high-tech components were integrated in the range.
For instance, the all-wheel drive in the Passat Variant GT syncro, first available in 1984. The series underwent a thorough facelift in 1985. It was also in 1985 that Volkswagen began to deliver the first Passat with a computer-controlled catalytic converter (66 kW / 90 bhp), and the three-millionth Passat as such. The top-end Passat with a top speed of 200 kph from a 2.2-litre five-cylinder engine (100 kW / 136 bhp) entered the running. In March 1987, the series passed the fourmillion mark.
In the spring of 1988, Volkswagen put the third generation of the Passat and Passat Variant on the market. The Passat displayed new qualities. It had grown considerably, resplendent in a new line of styling, had a considerably longer wheel base, and now had transverse engines. And again, Volkswagen presented the Variant at the same time. Both body versions were characterised by pronounced aerodynamic perfection. In June 1990 the Passat broke the production barrier of five million units.
The first Passats of the fourth generation were delivered in the autumn of 1993. The most conspicuous visual feature was that the front was no longer almost closed; instead, there was a classic radiator grille. In only three years, this generation of the Passat and Passat Variant, further optimised in many areas, sold almost 700,000 times. The passive and active safety were optimised by series driver and front-passenger airbags, belt tighteners and the anti-blocking system (ABS).
A technical revolution in 1993 was an engine bearing the acronym TDI. The turbo-diesel direct injector developed 66 kW / 90 bhp, allowing speeds of up to 178 kph; average consumption was only 5.3 litres (Variant 5.4 litres). In February 1996, a 1.9-litre four-cylinder with 81 kW / 110 bhp rounded off the TDI range.
The fifth-generation Passat presented in August 1996 heralded a new epoch for the series, with a level of quality, safety and comfort that in many areas completely broke the boundaries to the next higher class of vehicle. The newly designed bodywork is fully galvanised with extremely high static torsion. The newly styled interior corresponds perfectly to this standard. Two of the many technical highlights are the running gear with the four-arm front axle and the standard side airbags.
The basic version of the Passat had a new 1.6-litre aluminium engine (74 kW / 100 bhp). Attractive alternatives to this were the new V5 engine with 2.3 litres capacity and 110 kW / 150 bhp (from September 1997) and the V6, now rated at 142 kW / 193 bhp. The Variant made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1997. Month by month, the trim and the choice of engines were refined step by step. In 1998, for instance, the first TDI with pumpjet direct injection (85 kW / 115 bhp) and the Passat V6 TDI with 110 kW / 150 bhp followed. From September 1999, ESP was standard for all series Passat models in Germany.
In October 2000, Volkswagen presented the comprehensively reworked fifth generation of the Passat. Forward-looking features were the newly styled front with its high-class chrome radiator grille, and the new rear with the characteristic tail-lights. The quality of the bodywork set new records in the middle class. In addition to the front and side airbags, optional head airbags at the sides were now available. As with many other details, the air-conditioning was included in the standard series package.
An exclusive special role fell to the 202 kW / 275 bhp all-wheeldrive Passat W8 and Passat Variant W8. In the area of high-capacity motorisation, December 2001 then saw the introduction of a new 2.0- litre four-cylinder engine with 96 kW / 130 bhp. March of that year was also to witness the début of a new V6 TDI with 132 kW / 180 bhp. And shortly after, in May, the TDI range for the Passat would have a further V6 added to it. It developed 120 kW / 163 bhp and, like the more powerful V6, conformed to the strict EU-4 exhaust standard.
The sixth generation made it’s world debut on the 15th of February 2005 in Hamburg.