A GT version of the Passat with some styling cues from the Golf GTI

In the land of high-horsepower tuning potential and luscious sporty design, the Volkswagen Passat has never really had a home. Even when it was introduced back in the 70’s as a funky looking hatchback, it wasn’t exactly a car you looked to if you wanted sporty handling or a quick sprint to 60 mph. Fast forward to today, and the current Passat, which was introduced in 2011, is sportier than ever and can be had with a V-6, but it’s still nothing more than a cheaper family car with a somewhat interesting design. VW could be looking to change all of that as it begins to focus on its North American presence, and it’s slowly becoming evident with the announcement of this Passat GT Concept. Featuring at least 20 different design changes compared to the current model, this GT Concept could very well become a real production model. And, it could be sooner than later, as the Passat is due for a facelift in the very near future.

“The Passat GT is an early example of how the new Volkswagen North American Region will meet the needs and desires of American customers going forward,” said Dr. Matthias Erb, Chief Engineering Officer, North American Region, Volkswagen. “We have the freedom and the responsibility to shape future North American vehicles here in the U.S., combining engineering resources from around the world with our unique perspective and talented local team.”

So, will the public give the Passat GT concept the warm welcome it needs to find its way into production when it debuts in Los Angeles? It’s too early to tell just yet, but for VW fans, it could very well be the Passat model they’ve been begging for all along. Let’s take a good look at it and what it brings to the table.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Passat GT Concept.

Exterior

2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Exterior
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While this concept is heavily based on the current Passat, there’s actually quite a few differences here to go over. In place of the standard fascia up front is a new fascia that features a larger air dam and black flic-like inserts on each corner. There are no fog lights to speak off, but that’s okay because the headlights feature those bright LED strips at the bottom of the lens. The grille itself has also been changed. It still features the two horizontal louvers, but behind it is a honeycomb-like mesh that is painted just as black as the louvers and air dam. While it does look a little out of place, there is also a red pinstripe that runs the full width of the grille at the bottom, while it runs to the outer tips of the headlights up top. This is a feature that relates directly to the Golf GTI and helps to give this Passat a little extra sport in its step.

As far as the exterior goes, there’s not all that much difference between this model and the current model, but that revised grille and front fascia actually do a lot for the overall appearance.

Moving along to the sides, you can see that the chrome details like the window trim and the strip on the lower doors has been finished in black. This contrasts nicely against the white finish. There are also “GT” logos on the bottom, rear corner of the rear doors. The concept rides on 19-inch Tornado wheels that hide red-painted brake calipers and a special suspension system that lowers the ride height by 0.6-inches all the way around. It’s also notable that the roof has been finished in black as well. Around back, the taillights are lightly tinted or “smoked out,” if you will, and the chrome strip on the rear fascia has been finished in black to match the side and front trim. It also looks as if there is a small and thin black lip on the rear decklid. Down below there are trapezoidal exhaust outlets that hum the tune of a sport muffler.

2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Exterior
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As far as the exterior goes, there’s not all that much difference between this model and the current model, but that revised grille and front fascia actually do a lot for the overall appearance. But, there’s still more to talk about on the inside, so let’s move on and give it a quick look.

Interior

2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Interior
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For the most part, the interior remains that same as the current model, but there are little things here and there that set the model apart. First, the inserts at the top of the door trim panels and the insert on the passenger side of the dash have a carbon-fiber look to them. Of course, it would be nice if VW used real carbon fiber, but hopefully, it will step that game up if and when the GT goes into production. Outside of these trim inserts, the face of the center console has been painted in Piano Black to go with the black headliner. The another big thing to mention here is the seats. They have been wrapped in black leather with the center inserts done up in a light gray. The leather is held together with contrast stitching.

2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Interior
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2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Interior
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With the few modifications exposed here, it’s a little saddening that VW didn’t put together a more expressive package for this concept. Some people look at the Passat as a cheaper model, especially in low trim levels that come with a small four-banger, slim interior appointments, and hubcaps. VW had a chance to really wow the public and give them a model that’s really worth considering, but instead has decided to keep the changes inside rather thin. Not that the current model doesn’t have a decent interior in range-topping form, but the interior that you see here shows that VW isn’t quite looking outside of the box yet. Then again that’s my opinion, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

Drivetrain

In this department, Volkswagen really dropped the ball again. At a time when it could showcase a few performance-enhancing add-ons like cold air intake or custom exhaust, the Passat GT is identical to any of V-6 Passat models that you can get today. With that said, it is powered by the 3.6-liter TSI VR6 that delivers 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. But, it should be noted that those numbers only come to life with the use of premium fuel. Fuel economy sits at 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which isn’t horrible for a car this size but isn’t really something to write home about either.

2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The Passat GT is identical to any of V-6 Passat models that you can get today.

In fairness, Cars.com, for instance, says the standard model has “Quick acceleration, solid steering, and outstanding driving performance.” With that said, I would hope that a GT production model would come with a little bit of extra performance over the range-topping model, but the drive to do such a thing remains to be seen.

Conclusion

2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Exterior
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At this point, I think VW is doing its best to put on a good show in L.A. while still offering the potential to expand its current lineup a bit. But, while trying to recover from the whole Dieselgate situation, the bean counters are probably running a pretty tight ship. If nothing else, I hope that’s the excuse, because outside of the few exterior changes, this GT model is pretty disappointing compared to the range-topping model that current graces showrooms. As a family car, the Passat isn’t a bad vehicle by any means, and that V-6 engine does provide a decent amount of get up for that purpose, but slapping a GT label on it without any performance enhancements and so little in the way of aesthetics isn’t going to do much for the brand.

  • Leave it
    • * Lack of any performance upgrades
    • * The options of a six-speed manual would be nice
    • * The lack of serious upgrades to this concept reeks of the financial troubles VW is dealing with

Press Release

This week at Automobility LA, Volkswagen of America, Inc. will unveil the Passat GT concept, designed by the company’s North American engineering hub in Chattanooga, Tenn. Combining fresh styling updates with the powerful 280-hp VR6® engine, the Passat GT concept previews a potential addition to the Passat lineup. The concept was created by Volkswagen’s North American Engineering and Planning Center in Chattanooga based on extensive feedback from U.S. customers and dealers.

2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Exterior
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“The Passat GT is an early example of how the new Volkswagen North American Region will meet the needs and desires of American customers going forward,” said Dr. Matthias Erb, Chief Engineering Officer, North American Region, Volkswagen. “We have the freedom and the responsibility to shape future North American vehicles here in the U.S., combining engineering resources from around the world with our unique perspective and talented local team.”

More than 20 design changes from the standard Passat mark the GT as a unique, eye-catching sedan. Starting from the black honeycomb grille insert with red accent lines that harken to those on the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the upgrades include unique bumper treatments, black window surrounds, a black roof and trunk spoiler, LED headlights, smoked taillights, a dual trapezoidal exhaust and a sport muffler. The 19-inch Tornado wheels cover red-painted brake calipers, and a 0.6-inch reduction in ride height gives the Passat GT concept a road-hugging stance.

2016 Volkswagen Passat GT Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Inside, the Passat GT creates a sportier impression with carbon-fiber pattern door trim and instrument panel, two-tone black-and-gray sport seats with contrast stitching, a black headliner and piano black center console trim. Power comes from the Volkswagen 3.6-liter TSI® VR6, which makes 280 horsepower, tied to a six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, controlled through shift paddles behind the steering wheel.

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