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Volkswagen unveils 'new' Passat

Volkswagen unveiled the seventh generation of the Passat at the Paris Motor Show with a sleek new look inspired by the luxury Volkswagen Phaeton. More than 15 million Passats have been sold since the first model was introduced and Volkswagen says this latest version sets 'benchmarks in quality, design, economy and comfort.'

It certainly has a more sophisticated look from the outside with clean lines while at the front there is the now familiar Volkswagen family grille and headlights, first seen on the Volkswagen Golf. It's not strictly new, more a thoroughly reworked version of the outgoing Passat, so every body panel apart from the roof is new. It is marginally longer than the car it replaces, but similar in width and height. The headlights include distinctive LED running lights while at the rear the tail lights have subtle chrome highlights that extend down the side of the car.

The upmarket look continues inside with new seats that are available with heating and cooling along with a massage function. There's a revised dashboard with new dials, trim finishes and an analogue clock along with chrome inserts and the option of ambience lighting similar to that found in the Phaeton. The centre console has also been redesigned with revisions to the minor controls as well as new door trims.

The engine line-up includes a 1.4-litre TSI engine developing 122bhp, a 1.8-litre TSI unit with 160bhp, a 2.0-litre TSI 210bhp engine and a range-topping 3.6-litre V6 producing 300bhp. The diesel range starts with the most efficient engine, the 1.6-litre TDI with 105bhp which - in Bluemotion models - has a claimed average of 68.8mpg and emits just 109g/km of CO2 giving it a theoretical range of more than 1000 miles on just one tank of fuel. There is also a 2.0-litre TDI engine available in two power outputs - 140bhp and 170bhp and each of the engine ranges can be specified with a choice of manual or DSG gearboxes.

The new Passat will be available with new safety and comfort system previously only seen in the Touareg and Phaeton luxury models. The optional new City emergency braking function, a part of the Automatic Distance Control (ADC) system, automatically engages the brakes at speeds below 18mph should an unavoidable collision be sensed by the vehicle. The system is also able to accelerate the vehicle automatically should it detect an imminent rear end collision providing the vehicle sees a clear space ahead.

In addition, the new Passat can be fitted with an automatic fatigue detection system that monitors the driver's inputs and automatically emits an audible and visual warning to recommend a break if required. As with previous Passat models, the Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) incorporates Trailer Stabilisation when a factory fitted towbar is specified.

Promising enhanced dynamics, the new Passat can be specified with the XDS electronic transverse differential for the first time. The system, which is standard on the Golf GTI, acts to reduce understeer and improve traction in slippery conditions making the new Passat feel more responsive as a result.

Other new optional convenience systems include an innovative boot opening system for the saloon model. On vehicles specified with keyless entry, so long as you're carrying the key fob on your person a simple foot motion at the back of the car is enough to activate sensors that open the boot automatically - a useful function when your hands are full.

Both the saloon and Estate models are due to go on sale in the UK around the middle of October when pricing and specification details will be announced. First customer deliveries will take place in early January 2011.

Click here to read our 2010 Paris Motor Show A-Z guide.

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