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Since its launch in 1972, VW have sold more than 22 million Passats. That makes it a very successful car indeed. The large part of its success is its universally accepted styling. Throughout its seven generations, this new one being the eighth, the Passat’s styling has been as conservative and as exciting as a glass of water.

This new Passat follows on that tradition but with a twist. I’ve never really been fond of the Passat. I found them to be rather dull. The Passat has never been a car to stir the soul but this new one seems to have a pulse. Sure it’s conservative but now it’s actually pretty good looking. It’s all in the attempt of taking the Passat upmarket. Which is worrying for Audi and its ageing A4.

Unlike the A4, the new Passat is based on VAG’s new MQB platform which also underpin a lot of the latest VAG products from the Mark 7 Golf to the new Skoda Octavia. With the use of the MQB platform and aluminium in some of the bodywork, the new Passat has lost 85kgs. That’s good for economy, good for handling, and good for performance. Good.

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Obviously a vast range of engines will be available with four cylinder diesels and four cylinder petrols being the staple choices. Petrol engines, which are turbocharged of course, have outputs ranging from 123bhp to 276bhp. There’s even talk of a new 3.0-litre turbocharged VR6 engine with 300+ bhp being available in the near future. The petrols have cylinder deactivation technology which improves fuel economy. My favourite thing about the petrol engines in the Passat is the fact that the person in charge of it all was called Fritz. With a name like that you know these engines are going to be efficient.

Diesels will have 148bhp to 237bhp. Later on in the Passat’s life a 208bhp hybrid will be launched which will be good for 50km in EV mode and a full range of 960km. As with the current Passat, there’ll be a choice of 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG transmissions driving either the front-wheels or all four wheels with VW’s 4Motion system.

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The Passat was styled by legendary penman Walter d’Silva – the chap who’s responsible for the lastest VAG products including the VW Scirocco, Audi R8, as well as the old Alfa Romeo 156. Quite a decent portfolio. That explains why this new Passat is a handsome thing. It’s got VW’s new corporate face which I quite like. I like how there’s minimal detailing too but the rear seems to be identical to the seventh-generation. At first I thought it was just a facelift. But it isn’t. What is it is though, is shorter. It’s lost some 2mm and is also lower and wider than before. This new Passat measures up at 4767mm long, 1832mm wide, and 1456mm high.

Along with the clean lines new technology has been used to take it upmarket. So there’s LED lights everywhere. LED headlights are an option with adaptive headlight functions, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, LED side indicators, LED everything really. But it’s not just LEDs. Radars and sensors are thrown in the mix too. There’s a 360 degree Area View which uses a bunch of cameras around the car to help with parking on top of the parking sensors. There’s all the usual driver aids too such as city braking, rear traffic warning, and blind spot assist.

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Inside VW promise there to be more leg, head, shoulder, and boot room than its predecessor. More new tech features inside too such as V’s latest Modular Infotainment options, a heads-up display screen (which is a VW first), and the highlight is the optional 12.3-inch TFT display which replaces the traditional instrument dials. In essence it’s like the Virtual Cockpit found in the third-gen Audi TT and new Lamborghini Huracan. That’s pretty cool.

At launch, which will happen sometime later this year, the Passat will be avaialble as a saloon or as a station wagon. An Alltrack and CC will join the lineup later on. What do you think of the new Passat? Would this be your pick of the mid-sized saloon bunch? And will the design be a case of looking good today and ageing quickly tomorrow? Only time will tell.

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