New Volkswagen Passat Mk8.5 gets new tech and plug-in hybrid boost
Within the next month or two, the 30 millionth Volkswagen Passat will have been produced. Eight generations have hit the road since the car’s launch back in 1973, and UK orders for this newly updated Peugeot 508 rival will open in June.
The latest version is still based upon the Mk8, but VW believes the changes are significant enough to consider it a ‘Mk8.5’. Under the subtly massaged metal, the revised Passat packs improved safety tech, updated infotainment and connectivity systems, semi-autonomous driving capability and an overhauled engine range.
Perhaps the most significant change under the bonnet is an improved GTE plug-in hybrid. The power output from the petrol/electric set-up remains the same as before, at 215bhp, but a larger-capacity battery – up to 13kWh from 9.9kWh – sees the electric-only range rise to 35 miles on the latest WLTP standards. That’s an increase of 40 per cent. However, there’s no fast-charging tech, so at best the GTE can replenish its cells in four hours.
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Elsewhere, buyers have a wide range of conventional combustion options to choose from, with diesels producing between 118bhp and 237bhp and petrols ranging from 148bhp up to a new 268bhp unit.
The introduction of exhaust-particulate filters throughout helps efficiency; the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, for example, emits around 10g/km less CO2 than before.
The Passat’s safety revisions are just as wide ranging. It’ll be the first VW to get semi-autonomous capability; dubbed IQ.Drive, the Level 2 assistance combines adaptive cruise control, lane assist and a host of other safety features to allow the Passat to control acceleration, braking and steering functions at anything from zero to 130mph.
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IQ.Drive can recognise roundabouts, junctions and speed-limit changes, and adjust itself accordingly. An updated brake servo enables a smoother drive.
As before, the Passat will come to the UK in saloon and estate body styles. The latter is the most significant for the brand; not only does it outsell the four-door by roughly 2:1, but it’s also bought in larger numbers than the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate.
Subtle styling changes extend to little more than tweaked bumpers both front and rear. Three new colours are offered – including Lapis Blue, which is popular on the Golf R. LED headlamps and tail-lights are standard, while LED matrix technology, first used in the Volkswagen range on the Touareg, will be optional.
Design tweaks inside are also discreet, but the cabin is packed with much more tech than before. The most notable introduction is the optional Digital Cockpit. The 11.7-inch display replaces conventional analogue dials (a first for the Passat), and is a step up from the Active Info Display found elsewhere in the VW range. It gets sharper, higher-contrast graphics and more customisation options.
The top-line 9.2-inch infotainment screen is said to have a more intuitive user interface. An always-online capability allows for more precise real-time traffic updates, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be synced wirelessly (another VW first) and the smartphone cubby has a USB-C connection.
Passat prices have still to be confirmed, but expect to pay around £1,000 more than for the existing model. The one exception is the GTE, which looks set to entice buyers with a hefty drop in the region of £2,500.
Meet the Passat family: How updated range lines up
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Load-carrier will be UK’s big-selling Passat, and it benefits from saloon’s styling, engine and tech upgrades. Vast 650-litre boot volume is among the best in the class.
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This takes estate body and applies SUV-inspired chunky plastic trim and raised ride height. Every version gets all-wheel drive and a DSG automatic gearbox as standard.
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Plug-in hybrid delivers the same 215bhp as before, but electric-only range improves by 40 per cent. New driving modes allow battery to be saved for zero-emission zones.
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