By on November 17, 2016

passat_gt_concept_ (Image: Volkswagen of America)

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.

passat_gt_concept_ (Image: Volkswagen of America)

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]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

47 Comments on “Volkswagen Passat GT Concept: ‘Come on, You Guys Want This or Not?’...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    It seems very half-baked versus the Fusion Sport (which will probably also sell poorly). Let’s not forget that there was, up until recently, a Passat with the 3.6-liter VR6 already, although I don’t think that one had the DSG. Still, color me unimpressed.

    • 0 avatar
      davewg

      You can get one so equipped – sold order only…admittedly I don’t recall if that’s the DSG or not.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Have to agree with Kyree on this one. While part of me likes the idea, I just don’t see it either selling in any appreciable volume, or acting to attract customers to the dealership as some sort of halo car. If the vehicle doesn’t get spelled with an “S”, a “U” or a “V,” then it isn’t likely to sell.

    • 0 avatar
      mittencuh

      You can still get the 3.6 Passat and it only comes with a DSG.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        No, the VR6 Passat actually comes with a Tiptronic gearbox. Just because it has the paddles doesn’t mean it’s a DSG. AFAICT the Passat isn’t available with a DSG in any trim.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Notwho

          The vr6 passat is already dsg, and so were the tdi autos. Those v6 trims are a completely different experience from the others. All this is is a melding of the r line 1.8t and the vr6 car. Lower price, aggressive wheel setup and because of the 6 an aggressive drivetrain to match it.

          I’m not a future customer but I have to admit it’s an interesting proposition. We’d all be applauding if this was an accord v6 trim, even with their cvt.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      You can still get the 3.6 VR6. Just test drove one the other week, and with current incentives you can get the SEL V6 trim for just a hair over $30k. The SE w/Tech option lists for $30k, so shave a few grand off of that. Assuming you can find one. The VR6 models have been thin on the ground for MY 2017 so far, though I’ve seen a few more popping up online.

      This of course begs the question of what price point such a Passat GT would sell at. If you can spend $27k and get a Passat SE w/Tech using the same VR6, what does the GT get you? Bigger wheels? Lowered a tad, and the DSG? Unless it comes in cheaper than the SE Tech I’ll take the better optioned model over the one that has go-fast cosmetics. Assuming that I’d ever buy another VW again, which I wouldn’t.

      I think that the Fusion Sport has a lot going for it that this GT trim doesn’t. For starters, it has a more powerful engine than you can get on any other Fusion. It also has the continuously controlled damping (thanks, Lincoln!) which isn’t available on any other Fusion. It also has a starting price that is fairly close to the Titanium trim level, if you prefer the go-fast gear over the creature comforts that come with the Titanium. Yes, you can get something similar from Lincoln if you’re willing to pay $43k for it instead of $33k.

      Now compare that to the speculated Passat GT trim. Passat GT gets you the bigger engine from the V6 trims, the DSG from every other VW currently in production, and some cosmetics. No AWD, no improved/sport suspension, no special handling package, nothing. It’s basically the “Passat Sport” trim from 2015 with a bigger engine.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        It’s kind of a minor point, but the DSG is increasingly not installed in VWs. It does come on the V6 Passat, but I don’t think it’s available on any of the 4 cylinder Passats, or for that matter, any of VW’s 4 cylimder cars other than the GTI and the GLI.

        My sister has a turbo Beetle with the DSG, I don’t think that’s available any longer.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        IMO that SE VR6 Passat is the best deal going in mid sized sedans right now. 30k sticker from a brand that is cutting prices on anything on the lot to move metal? Hard to beat that for a car that has a huge backseat and a great, smooth V6 engine that makes for a great interstate cruiser. Sure the Passat is a bit bland but we’re talking mid-sized sedans.

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          It is, if you can get past the drudgery of it. I happen to think that the Passat is a good looking car, in the “big luxury-looking sedan” sense. But drive one and you’ll find that the NMS Passat is very un-Volkswagen. It feels disconnected from everything.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            IMO 1.8TSI is already an incredible mile eater, with a true 38mpg highway (even at extra-legal speeds), and you can find well equipped adaptive-cruise/heated seat/moonroof SE trims for $20-22k all day long. That’s the true value pick.

    • 0 avatar

      See, but the Fusion Sport was never really meant to sell that well. Do you think Ford actually expected it to? I’d say they just wanted to liven up the range, recognizing that it would bring attention to the model but that most people would buy Titaniums and 2.0T SEs instead, recognizing they don’t need the Sport.

      I’d say the GT is more akin to Toyota’s SE trims. They’re for the people that want it to look sporty but don’t actually care about anything related to sporting driving and aren’t willing to pay the premium (such as with the Sport) for more performance.

  • avatar
    davewg

    Errr, nope. Not with that ridiculous lipstick on a pig red accent trim on the nose.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There will be ~71k Passats sold in the US this year. If this GT version added 10%, that’s only 7000 cars.

    Worth it? I don’t know, but it would help a little.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Fusion Sport already beat you VW and it would be faster.

  • avatar
    brettc

    No thanks. If that was a Passat wagon and it wasn’t wearing 19″ shoes, maybe.

    The Fusion sport already exists and has a more powerful engine. Plus it’s not a tainted VW.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Yeah, but it’s a Ford. It ain’t gonna drive like a German car.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        The Fusion/Mondeo is very much a German car even if (according to european journalists) it has lost some of it’s sportiness when it was adapted for the US market. On the other hand that box with rounded corners in the photo above isn’t a german car at all, although it shares some parts with its german counterpart.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Really? Care to explain why it’s not a German car at all? Sure seems very much German to me.

          Furthermore, how is it that you think the Fusion is very much a German car? It’s built on a Ford platform with a Ford engine. Does it have Bosch headlights or something? LOL

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        The Fusion is a lot closer to German sedan handling than you think. Throw in the Fusion Sport’s AWD + continuously controlled damping (which comes from Lincoln) and it’s in an entirely different class than the Passat would be, at least from a handling perspective.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I was somehow just reminded how the mid 60’s Ford Fairlane was considered very boring looking because someone at Ford decided they should have as simple shapes as possible to save money on tooling. Not sure what reminded me of that story right now. Also, I just yawned so hard that I think i dislocated my lower jaw.

  • avatar

    It’s pretty much exactly what I want from VW.

    That and a sedan based on the MQB platform – currently the only option is the Audi A3 – which is a GTI with real leather for $10,000 extra.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    I’d think about it if it had a nice stick shift. As it is, though, no thanks. I’ll check out the Honda Accord V6 coupe.

  • avatar
    ajla

    $50K sedan using the 4.0T V8.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Seems like if the VAG crowd wanted something like this, they could make it on their own and a quick search shows their are some, so why not. Depends on price of course and I would prefer a manual.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Not the worst idea…after all, the main selling point of any VW is how it drives. They need to get prospects’ butts in the seats. You could do worse than a Passat halo car.

    …or how ’bout branding the GTI name? Golf GTI, Jetta GTI, Passat GTI? That name has cachet with its’ target market.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    It won’t sell because you won’t be able to get one. Dealers won’t order it for their inventory. When you go to a dealer and ask to see one, they’ll shrug. Factory ordering a car is something most people won’t do.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      There’s the VW truth. You can get any Passat you want as long as it’s in the R, S, or SE trim. Each dealer might have a single SEL at any given time, and every 15th dealer might have a single example of the V6 model, but that’s it. The dealers don’t order what they can’t move in volume these days. Wanna see what happened the last time VW tried to do a sporty trim? Hint…they’re still on lots: https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/638169859/overview/

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    I am partially with Jack on this one. But not the “maximum-aggression” part, because most people considering Passats are actual grown-ups, not stuck in the high school mentality. I think they should return to the driver-focused European brand, which is exactly what they tried to walk away from with this current generation Passat.

    I think they should make not this, but a GLI Passat. With the GLI powertrain. Special 18″ wheels, easy on the lipstick. Maybe some fashionable blue calipers (red’s already passe). Lots of aluminum inside, some color stitching. Done.

  • avatar

    No, but if you can convince Mazda to take similar steps with the 6…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    No worse than Toyota selling a Camry XSE (which they will sell with a 4cyl if you want.)

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The red trim up front and black door trim is very… ’80s. I think I’d pass on this one. The 6-cylinder Passat is already into Audi A4 territory.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Not for me, unreliable piece of fertilizer.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’m not sensing there’s much demand for high(er) performance midsize sedans.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    I’m looking for something I could track a few times at least. Even if I could put aside the double-cheating, my VW past tells me that this car would already be stressed to within an inch of its life from the factory – any type of non-smooth-street driving and you’ll have no end of problems, none of which will be covered under warranty. And there’s no way I’d trust the DSG to hold up in any way when pushed.

    I agree – Fusion sport is a better bet, because it’s likely to be cheaper, easier to fix and more rugged.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    So….”Passat” really IS German for “Camry”.

    Grounded to the ground, this one is.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The gradual disappearance of the DSG from VW’s lineup suggests a reliability fail. This is, however, a crowded and shrinking market with creditable entries by Ford, Honda, and Toyota. Why jump into a pool with a bunch of sharks, with the water slowly draining out?

    Not seeing it and certainly a powerful engine without AWD is going to be a fail. I thing VAG has to begin to rationalize between its VW brand and its Audi brand.

    Perhaps the small market for those who still recognize that station wagons are more effective uses of space than SUVs and, everything else being equal, more fuel efficient might make sense. The VW Jetta station wagon was always, in my opinion, a sweet, practical ride. Perhaps one on the larger Passat platform would work, for those people who find the Mercedes products way too expensive.

    Now, if VW sold the Sirocco in the U.S. again . . . that would be cool.

    But yet another boy-racer? I don’t think so.

    • 0 avatar
      KevinC

      Pretty sure the DSG boxes are quite reliable nowadays. When they were first introduced, they had a ton of problems with the electronics, but those were ironed out ages ago. I watch the 2 busiest GTI & Golf R forums regularly, and nobody is reporting problems with them, even the jokers putting out massive HP via aftermarket tunes.

      That said, I have no idea who this Passat would appeal to. It’s the most bland looking car on the road, and doesn’t even remotely resemble the quite-handsome European Passat. Yet another case of VWoA deciding that the NA market needs to have their car Americanized to appeal to move potential customers. Someday maybe they’ll realize that the whole reason people buy VWs is they want a European car, not a Buick.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I think that in a non-performance mainstream context, they are still not the best fit. Especially in the US, land of “what, I have to change the ATF?!?”, Jiffy Lube TLC and/or deferred maintenance. DSGs still require more frequent and unpalatably expensive (to most consumers) fluid changes. Good on VW for using a traditional Aisin-sourced auto. The one in my rental Passat was more than adequate and shifted crisply yet smoothly.

  • avatar
    Acd

    This is the most exciting concept car I’ve seen since the 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport RS that spawned the Celebrity Eurosport VR in 1987.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    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.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    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.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mcs: @Astigmatism: It’ll make it from Boston to New York without one. I’ve made that run many times over the...
  • downunder: So China will still produce ICE/Hybrids when the rest of the world goes total ev. Hooray! Australians will...
  • FalconRTV: I would miss the V8 noises.
  • dal20402: Wheels color-coordinated to the butterscotch leather are pimp.
  • 28-Cars-Later: Four years is time enough for a recycle.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber