So what does this piece of forbidden fruit contain? The new Passat debuts with new engines, less weight and the latest assistance, infotainment and convenience systems. And for the first time, an electrified version is available, in this case a plug-in hybrid.
Underpinning the new Passat is VW’s flexible MQB platform. Engineers have worked to make the platform even lighter by incorporating high-strength, hot-formed steel and aluminum in certain areas. The car is 187 pounds lighter than the one it replaces, helping some variants improve their fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent. The overall size of the new Passat has shrunk a little, but interior space has actually improved: the automaker promises more leg- and head-room, as well as increased luggage space.
In the powertrain department, buyers have the choice of 10 different engines spanning both gasoline and diesel units. One of these is VW’s new twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, whose output is an impressive 236 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. This engine is offered exclusively with a new seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. For other models, a six-speed manual and front-wheel drive is standard. All versions are equipped with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode, the latter recuperating energy to power auxiliary systems.
One additional powertrain option is a new plug-in hybrid setup. The setup combines a 154-hp gasoline engine with an 80-kilowatt (107-hp) electric motor. Total system output is 207 horsepower and the electric-only range is approximately 31 miles.
Other safety technology includes Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert; Traffic Jam Assist which makes stop-and-go driving more comfortable; Emergency Assist, which can potentially halt a vehicle when the driver is incapacitated; and the latest Front Assist system with City Emergency Braking, which optionally combines both radar and camera sensors to add pedestrian detection.
Follow Motor Authority on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.