Volkswagen Passat GT Concept: 'Come on, You Guys Want This or Not?'
A concept, or the first of many? That’s what Volkswagen execs need to decide once feedback rolls in from the conservatively sporting Passat GT concept shown off at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
Hot, but not too hot, a Passat GT would be an affordable enthusiast offering for the embattled automaker, spicing up an aging model that’s slipping in the U.S. market. The public’s reaction — be it interest or yawns — is the real deciding factor, but here at TTAC, we’ve been of two minds.
We first received word of this “concept” back in July. Now, the word “concept” normally implies a radical, futuristic design departure, a styling exercise, or maybe a wholly new bodystyle. This is not any of those things. No, it’s a regular Passat outfitted with go-fast bits and an existing engine from the VW Group stable.
No fancy electric motors driving each wheel, no unconventional and Gremlin-plagued doors. Just a 280-horsepower VR6, a 0.6-inch drop in ride height, sport exhaust, 19-inch wheels and blacked out trim. The concept puts its power down through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. Inside, faux carbon fiber trim and sport seats jazz up the interior a bit.
It’s doable right now, should the public want it.
In these digital pages, this writer claimed that Volkswagen doesn’t need a hotter Passat variant, it just needs a better Passat. With Passat sales continuing a decline that began after it 2012 peak (new models remain almost identical to those from that faraway year), and the midsize sedan losing the market share battle, the job of shoring up the model and attracting buyers shouldn’t be left to a single high-performance variant.
Volkswagen’s in dire financial straits and needs volume, not niche enthusiasm, I claimed.
Not so fast, said TTAC’s Jack Baruth.
The GTI and vastly upgraded Passat introduced in the waning days of the last century earned the automaker a lasting reputation. Granted, it was one VW did its best to destroy, but the fans remain. If Volkswagen’s threadbare bank account doesn’t allow for a totally new Passat, by all means offer a hotter Passat, Baruth said. Tempt that enthusiast crowd that lurks in online forums, typing in an excited staccato about their Mk. IV Golfs. Use the guns you have to fight back. (I can’t disagree.)
In his words:
This is what you do. You revamp everything you’ve got to be as maximum-aggression, as Autobahn-focused, as stereotypically German as possible. That means deep bumpers, V-Tex interiors, shockingly low prices, and home-market aesthetics. And just like in 1998, you lead with a Passat that attracts auto enthusiast’s attention. There’s no new metal on the horizon, but it would be possible for VW to deliver a heavily bespoilered V6-powered Passat with as much power possible for as little money as possible. Leave out the nav systems, the leather interiors, the sound insulation. Build a Passat that out-handles and out-accelerates competitors from Hyundai and Kia. Give it a manual transmission.
Well, that’s the bait the folks at VW have on the end of the line, dangling precariously over a calm surface that, for all they know, could be teeming with potential buyers. Or maybe just enough to make it worthwhile.
Will they bite?
[Images: Volkswagen of America]
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- SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
- MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
- SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
- Nopiho Kovaon GOOGLE
- Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.
The new Passats are truly striking cars in person when you consider that it is not priced out as luxury sedan. While this example drifts quite far from its grounded Audi roots starting with the red trim grill which looks too aftermarket. People bashing the Audi/VW DSG likely have no clue what they are talking about. It isn't going anywhere and isn't a huge reliability problem. If it breaks..yes it is expensive to fix because it isn't easily serviceable like more traditional gearboxes. The VW DSG is still the most responsive and sporty transmission at the price point.
The only cosmetic aspect of this concept I like is the black-painted roof...that can be a cool look on certain sedans. I would be hard-pressed to buy anything VAG builds, but the lease deals look pretty tempting. I came REALLY close to leasing a new '16 Passat S but just never quite pulled the trigger. I tend to be more of a base-model guy...cloth seats, no sunroof, small alloy wheels with cheap-to-replace 16 inch tires. My bride, on the other hand, LOVES leather, big gaudy wheels, fancy sound system/nav, etc. I'm still tempted by a new Passat, but not a dressed-up, hot rod one.