VW Passat to remain on old platform, update styling, tech for 2020

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A view of VW's next generation Passat. Photo credit: VW

DETROIT – The Volkswagen Passat 2020 gets a new exterior styling, more standard safety equipment and an updated instrument panel, but will not land on a new platform or have a new powertrain, since the automaker, who invokes the shrinking medium-sized car market, strives to save resources.

The German brand showed Tuesday afternoon the renewed passat-midsize sedan to journalists at a Detroit Detroit auto show, where it will be shown to the public ahead of a planned arrival in American showrooms during the summer. However, no photos were allowed, and the brand only issued a sketch to tease the new styling, in anticipation of its public disclosure on January 14th.

"The only piece of sheet metal that we did not change was the roof," says Steven Warrick, manager of the Passat family model line for the North American region of Volkswagen. The new design has a new front panel and more aggressive styling lines but is evolutionary in nature and makes the sedan easily identifiable as a Passat.

The Passat has been built at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly since its opening in 2011 and will remain on the same PQ46 platform as the previous generation. It will be powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.

In Europe, the current Passat, introduced in 2014 and the continent's best-selling medium car, is on the new MQB platform of the VW Group.

American sales of the Passat fell 34 percent this year to 38,285 in a segment that shrank by 16 percent.

A display of the next generation Volkswagen Passat for American prices will be announced closer to the launch, but VW is trying to keep the Passat affordable in the segment.

No complaints

Warrick justified the decision to keep the car on the existing platform by explaining that customers had no complaints about the driving dynamics of the current Passat. "There was nothing wrong with the platform," he said.

Unlike the smaller Jetta, which was redesigned and developed this year on the global MQB platform from Volkswagen, this means that the Passat will not get the full range of Volkswagen's latest infotainment technology, such as the virtual cockpit cluster, but the instrument cluster has updated controls. Safety features have also been updated, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, front parking assistance and new, brighter LED lighting.

The prices are announced closer to the launch, according to Volkswagen officials, but according to Warrick the company tried to keep the Passat affordable in the segment. Part of that decision was to reduce the number of available equipment configurations from 17 to five models for the 2020 model year, in order to reduce the complexity of production, he said. Prices for 2018 models start at $ 23,980, including delivery.