So Volkswagen took the wraps off its first (well, since the late 80s) Made-in-the-U.S.A. car last night. The name of the New Midsize Sedan had remained a matter of high suspense until the last minute. But didn’t we offhandedly mention that “some think it might be called Passat?” That’s what it will be called. “Volkswagen says it will keep the Passat name for its new midsize vehicle that will be built at the company’s new U.S. plant in Tennessee,” reports Businessweek.
Meet the Volkswagen value meal, designed for Americans: Bigger, beefier, cheaper.
Well, first of all, it’s designed for new U.S. fuel standards that are more lenient for bigger cars. You want bigger, you got bigger: The US Passat is a bit longer and wider than its willowy European sibling.
From their dazzling array of engines, Volkswagen picked three: The base version comes with a 168bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder gasoline engine (31 mpg highway, non-EPA). For more oomph, there will be a 276bhp 3.6-litre six-cylinder gasoline mill, paired with a dual clutch transmission (DSG). That one is promised to deliver 28 mpg highway, non-EPA. For the oil burning aficionados, there is a 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel (43 mpg highway, non-EPA). If you thought you will get one of VW’s small capacity TSI engines, no dice.
The car will come with the usual whiz-bang gadgetry one can expect from Volkswagen. The base version has tire pressure monitoring, ESP, ABS, Hill Climb Assist, six airbags, a radio-CD system (MP3-capable, do people still have CDs?) and a Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone system.
Oh, and there will be a “distinctive analogue clock in the center of the instrument panel.”
Volkswagen engineers studied their target group and pander to the odd American behavior.
- Americans have valet parking. Ach du mein Lieber! The new Passat has what my 70s era Cadillac had: A valet parking key! Just don’t give the valet parking key to the valet: Hit the valet parking button in the glove compartment to lock trunk and glove compartment. Give the REGULAR key to the kid. Your special valet parking key will open trunk and glove box. Verstanden?
- Americans either live in brutally cold or blistering hot climes. They like to start their car in the morning, have another cup of coffee and then enter the cozy or cool car. If you get the automatic or DSG variants, you can remote start the Passat, and the A/C will prepare it to your liking. Can’t do it with a stick, VW wants to avoid unintended driver-less acceleration.
And what will this beaut cost you? The Volkswagen press release (titled “Born in the U,S.A.” – born maybe, conceived in Wolfsburg) says: “With its entry-level price, the Passat is now in the 20,000 US dollar range (final prices to be announced in March).”
Some 150,000 new U.S. Passats can be built in the new Tennessee plant, and Volkswagen needs to sell each one of their new Chattanooga choo-choo to reach their ambitious goal of selling 300,000 VWs this year in the U.S.A. Market launch of the U.S.A. Passat begins mid August, so there are only 4 months in which the car can help.