The sixth-generation Passat will probably be launched in South Africa next year and, judging from these pictures, the country’s perennial bridesmaid of the compact saloon sector will have styling cues that could make Chris Bangle blush!

The sixth-generation Passat will probably be launched in South Africa next year and, judging from these (official) pictures, the country’s perennial bridesmaid of the compact saloon sector will have styling cues that could make Chris Bangle blush!


Due to make its European début in March and to be launched on the other continents shortly after, the Passat is still a large saloon – in fact, bigger than its predecessor. In detail, the new Passat is 4,77 metres long (+ 62 mm), 1,82 metres wide (+ 74 mm) and 1,47 metres tall (+ 10 mm). Its wheelbase measures 2,71 metres (+ 6 mm); the luggage compartment 565 litres (+ 90 litres).


However, the Passat might show-up its arch-rival, the upcoming and more-conservative-then-expected BMW 3 Series with its striking design (note the offset contours on the Volkswagen saloon’s sides, reminiscent of BMW design chief Chris Bangle’s signature flame-surfacing cues). With its chrome shield-shaped radiator grille, which featured on the Concept R (Roadster) and Concept C (Cabriolet-Coupé), the Passat will be the first production VW to have Wolfsburg’s new “family face”.


The rear aspect of the Passat is characterised by LED brake lights that reproduce the styling of the headlights with a round main element. By comparison, the Passat makes the fifth-generation Jetta, which CARtoday.com previewed late last month look mundane!


Volkswagen SA (VWSA) product public relations manager Songezo Zibi said that although the Uitenhage-based firm had not made a final decision on whether to introduce the new Passat next year, “there is a strong possibility that it will happen, we’d like to introduce the car next year and right-hand drive versions should be available not long after the European launch”.


Here’s what we know about the engines in the Passat lineup, so far. With the exception of the 75 kW entry-level engine, all the petrol engines will be new to the Passat range. The four-cylinder FSI engines with homogeneous direct injection have outputs of 85 kW, 110 kW and 147 kW. A 3,2-litre V6 FSI with 184 kW will top off the range in the fourth quarter of 2005, VW said.


On the diesel front, each of the three TDIs (77 kW, 103 kW and 125 kW units) will be new to the series. and will also gradually be offered with diesel particulate filters. The most powerful TDI is equipped with a piezo-electric high-pressure fuel injection system and two balancer shafts. A six-speed automatic gearbox will be optional, and the two more powerful TDI engines with the dual-clutch (DSG) transmission.


The interior of the new Passat will be all-new, more driver-orientated than before and can be adapted according to personal preferences through four equipment lines, each available with four colour schemes with wood and aluminium trim.


An electronic parking brake (EPB), which engages and disengages at the touch of a button, will be standard. Linked to other control units, the EPB also functions as part of a “dynamic onboard braking system”, auto release (for hill starts) and vehicle hold (no need to hold down the brake pedal at traffic lights).


In addtion, the Passat's remote control starting and locking functions make a conventional ignition key redundant. Instead, the central locking transmitter slots into a holder to the right of the steering wheel and the driver then presses it to start the engine. In models equipped with Volkswagen's keyless entry system, the engine starts at the touch of button.


Automatic distance control, which Volkswagen first introduced in the Phaeton, will be offered on the new Passat. The system is activated via a lever on the steering column – as soon as the distance to a vehicle in front of the Passat falls below a defined value, the system applies the brakes until the car has slowed to a speed that is preset via the cruise control system. Once the lane is clear, the car accelerates to the previously selected speed.


The range will also be offered with a 10-channel 600-Watt sound system from Dynaudio, satellite navigation system and two-zone automatic climate control (Climatronic), which allows draught-free ventilation/cooling at the touch of a button, VW claims.


Business travellers will have the ability to recharge their laptops via a 230 Volt power supply and the optional telephone unit with hands-free capability featuring a Bluetooth interface in the Passat.


Lastly, Volkswagen says “major improvements” have been made to the Passat's headlight systems compared with its predecessor. Adaptive bi-xenon headlights have an integrated dynamic cornering light and a static cornering to ensure optimum illumination of the road ahead.