By Samuel Ee
VOLKSWAGEN'S market share here has been rising steadily over the past few years on a heady combination of product and price, and one more of the former is set to arrive soon.
The new Volkswagen Passat is due in the second quarter of next year, wearing the current VW family look with all-new and more sculpted sheet metal (the roof is the only panel that has been carried over from its predecessor).
The styling is safe rather than sexy, although LED driving lights (like those on the Touareg SUV) make it more distinctive and allow it to stand out from the crowd.
This seventh-generation of the large family sedan uses the same basic platform as the sixth but with major refinements. As a result, the overall dimensions are largely similar.
|Inside, the Passat has gone slightly more upmarket, with wood trim and an analogue clock on the dashboard. The rest of the cabin look like they come from another contemporary VW model.
Inside, the Passat has gone slightly more upmarket, with wood trim and an analogue clock on the dashboard. But otherwise, the rest of the cabin - like the switchgear, steering wheel and centre console - look like they come from another contemporary VW model. Which is not a bad thing, considering the same satisfying tactile quality.
The engine under the hood is also familiar - it's a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch direct shift gearbox, or DSG, and driving the front wheels.
In the new Passat though, the 1.8 TSI has even better fuel consumption - a 4.1 per cent improvement to 7.0 litres per 100 km or 14 km per litre (under the combined cycle). For a 1,517 kg sedan, that is nothing short of impressive.
But then the Passat is not meant to be a sports saloon. As a family car, it offers good economy and good space - both in front and behind because of the 2,712 mm wheelbase.
|The new Volkswagen Passat is due in the second quarter of next year. The styling is safe rather than sexy, although LED driving lights make it more distinctive.
The suspension allows for a comfortable ride and although it has DCC Adaptive Chassis Control, the car cannot actually be described as sporty.
DCC features three driving programmes - Normal, Comfort and Sport. Choosing Sport stiffens both the dampers and the steering wheel but the Passat still permits good ride comfort because of the relatively soft setting.
Fortunately, the electro-mechanical steering remains typically VW and is accurate and fairly well-weighted.
Most impressive, though, is the number of innovative technologies that accompany the new Passat.
One of them is the Fatigue Detection system - the first in a VW and the first in its class. The system comes standard and detects driver inattention or drowsiness. It warns with a five-second acoustic signal and a message in the instrument cluster display recommending that the driver take a break.
If no break is taken within the next 15 minutes, the warning is repeated.
|VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 1.8 TSI
|Engine: 1,798cc turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox
Max Power: 160 hp @ 5,000-6,200 rpm
Max Torque: 250 Nm @ 1,500-4,200 rpm
0-100kmh: 8.5 secs
Top speed: 218 kmh
Distributor: Volkswagen Group Singapore
Such a driver assistance feature may not be brand new but the fact that it has found its way into a mid-range brand as standard equipment is noteworthy. There are other optional systems too, such as Adaptive Cruise Control plus Front Assist, Lane Assist and Traffic Sign Detection, as well as user-friendly systems such as Park Assist and Easy Open for the bootlid.
Together, they make the Passat a very attractive model even if its styling does not.