2012 Volkswagen Passat and the 3 “Bs”: Bigger, better and bolder

18 Jan 2011 | 1,132 views | No Comment
If you're going to be one of the auto industry "big guns," you'd better learn to match the competition stroke for stroke. Volkswagen, which has aspirations of being the biggest maker of cars in the world, has been hampered in this country by products that were usually smaller and more expensive than the competition. In a market in a country luike this one, where bigger is considered better, that's a no-no. Voklswagen forthrightly tackled the issue by making its Jetta bigger and less expensive, and now it's ready to the same thing for its biggest sedan, the Passat.  The new model debuted last week at the North American International Auto Show. And with prices expected to start in the $20,000 range,, that should line the Passat squarely up with competitors like Toyota's Camry and Chevy's Malibu. A VW news release says, "Designed in Germany and made in America, the Passat was developed as a larger vehicle with premium features and handling characteristics that will perfectly match it with the tastes and lifestyles of Americans. It will be built in Chattanooga, Tenn., at the world’s newest, most advanced and environmentally responsible auto assembly plant."      "The release adds, "The new Passat, the largest ever, is the only midsize sedan that offers superior German engineering at an accessible price. The Passat TDI — the only clean diesel option in the segment — is expected to deliver 43 miles per gallon on the highway, with a range of approximately 800 miles." It will come with premium standard features that include automatic climate control and Bluetooth connectivity.  There are several engines offered in the new Passat, including a 2.5 liter,  five cylinder  170 horsepower  engine, a 2.0 liter, 140 horsepower four cylinder clean diesel engine and a 3.6 liter, 280 horsepower VR6 engine. The Passat TDI is expected to deliver 43 miles per gallon on the highway, with a range of approximately 800 miles.   The Passat will be offered in three trim levels, S SE and SEL, with a total of 16 equipment levels.  Standard features include automatic climate control, power windows all around, air conditioning, insulating glass, a distinctive analog clock at the center of the instrument panel, cruise control, outside temperature display with frost warning, radio-CD system (MP3-capable, plus external audio input) and Bluetooth connectivity. Premium options include 17- a standard features include automatic climate control, power windows all around, air conditioning, insulating glass, a distinctive analog clock at the center of the instrument panel, cruise control, outside temperature display with frost warning, radio-CD system (MP3-capable, plus external audio input) and Bluetooth connectivity.nd 18-inch alloy wheels, power seat adjustment, leather, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel, a touchscreen satellite radio, a choice of Volkswagen’s RNS 510 or RNS 315 navigation systems, front fog lights with static cornering lights, wood decor, new ambiance lighting, memory driver’s seat, power passenger seat, and keyless access with push button start.  The Passat’s safety features include Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response Systems, which initiates automatic safety protections in a collision — the fuel supply and high consumption electronic equipment shuts off; the doors unlock; the battery terminal disconnects from the alternator cable; the hazard lights switch on. The Passat also comes with a tire pressure monitoring system, ESP electronic stabilization program, ABS with braking assistant, Hill Climb Assist (with manual transmission), six airbags and an extremely rigid body structure to protect the driver and passengers. The Passat will also offer the new Fender premium audio system, designed exclusively for Volkswagen.  Style-wise, the new Passat is a clean, unederstated sedan that, while it doesn't break any new design ground, still is one of the better looking competitors in its field.      VW says in a press release, "The Passat’s balanced proportions give it a unique, timeless and dominant styling reflecting the “design DNA” developed by Walter de Silva, the Italian design chief for the Volkswagen Group and Klaus Bischoff, the German design leader for the Volkswagen Brand. The signature clean design, with a predominance of horizontal body elements, reinforces the Passat’s position as the sophisticated choice in the midsize segment. The bottom line: this car looks much more expensive than it actually is." The news release continues, "The key identifying feature of a strong brand is the styling of its front end. Here the Passat displays the new horizontal brand face, with the grille and headlights forming a single unit. Unlike models in the compact class, the Passat’s grille is sculpted in a three-dimensional shape. Moreover, the grille stands more upright and makes a more distinctive and elegant impression in its stricter geometry."          The rear section is also dominated by horizontal lines. The lines of the large taillights rise toward the sides, underscoring the dynamics of the elegant rear styling. Another unique feature here is the design of the two-part taillights (integrated in the rear fender and trunk lid). Like the exterior, the interior is also marked by a clean and geometric formal structure. The instrument panel is similar to that of Volkswagen’s flagship vehicle, the all-new Touareg. Chrome trimmed gauges surround a digital multifunction display. A high-end chrome look is also applied to the air vents in the cockpit, and to the surrounds of the radio, navigation system and the climate control panels. The rotary light switch and parking brake handle button are also treated in chrome. Except for the base version, all other Passat trims have chrome interior accents on the window, mirror adjustment and trunk opening switches. The upper and lower instrument areas are visually distinguished by various decorative accents, depending on the equipment version. Decorative elements in “Titan” design are used in the S version; the elegant “Titan Silver Printed” decor is used in the SE version, wood décor “Autumn Nut Burl” is featured in the exclusive SEL version. The accents not only upgrade the instruments, but also the center console as well as the door trim panels.

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