Volkswagen's Not Wasting Many Resources on the Next Passat

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagens not wasting many resources on the next passat

Maybe the writing’s on the wall for the midsize car; many would agree it is. And, perhaps Volkswagen feels this will be the last Passat. Whatever the motivation, the German automaker isn’t putting maximum effort into the next-generation model, due out for the 2020 model year.

While the brand’s upcoming sedan will receive a much-needed styling revamp and new content, the bones beneath it won’t change, nor will the hood conceal the latest in electrified wizardry.

As you can see from these artist renderings released by Volkswagen, the 2020 Passat boasts tires a yard wide and 0.08 microns of suspension travel. Wait, we’re supposed to look beyond those exaggerated flourishes.

Yes, the Passat’s body does inspire thoughts of VW’s new-for-2018 Jetta and Arteon flagship; it falls in line with the brand’s styling direction for passenger cars. When viewed from the front quarter, the new Passat’s rear flanks bear a striking resemblance to the Audi A3. However, the new sheetmetal conceals an old platform.

In keeping the previous generation’s PQ46 platform, rather than replacing it with the brand’s versatile MQB architecture, VW is subtly claiming the midsize segment is not worthy of excessive development expenditure. Also carrying over for 2020 is the current model’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic, Automotive News reports, further bolstering this writer’s fairly obvious hypothesis.

“The only piece of sheet metal we didn’t change was the roof,” said Steven Warrick, manager of the Passat line for Volkswagen’s North American region, during a press preview.

When asked about the decision to keep the old architecture, Warrick replied, “There was nothing wrong with the platform.”

In addition to a mostly new body, the upcoming Passat gains additional driver assist and safety features, plus new LED headlamps. A good thing, too. If you recall yesterday’s post, the current Passat’s headlights failed to wow testers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

As the company cuts costs in order to free up cash for its electric vehicle offensive, the Passat’s build configurations stand to shrink. Seventeen configurations will shrink to five for 2020. It’s VW’s aim, Warrick said, to keep the Passat affordable in the depopulating midsize segment.

In the Passat’s U.S. home base, sales fell 32.2 percent, year over year, in November, with year-to-date volume down 34.3 percent.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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6 of 18 comments
  • Carrera Carrera on Dec 13, 2018

    Well, the current model has been in production since 2012 with tiny changes. The first 5-6 years reliability wasn't very good. They are average now. So I guess, by 2027 the new model should be average as well.

    • See 2 previous
    • Kyree Kyree on Dec 14, 2018

      @conundrum I agree. The Tiguan's subpar fuel economy, combined with dull driving dynamics, kept me from getting one. 27 highway MPG is one more than my significantly-larger Grand Cherokee manages. Yet the CR-V manages 34 and drives better than the Tiguan? What gives?

  • Mike Beranek Mike Beranek on Dec 13, 2018

    "vowed never to possess a German car again after my foray into used Audi ownership" I would bet that many people have stories about their "forays into used Audi ownership". You could probably stock an entire website with that content. My wife basically forbade me from purchasing another used European car after my "foray" into a 1987 Audi 5000.

    • Land Ark Land Ark on Dec 13, 2018

      Heh, mine was exactly 10 years newer, a 1997 A6. Surely by the end of a long model run they would have worked out all the kinks. Surely.

  • Wjtinfwb Over the years I've owned 3, one LH (a Concorde) a Gen 1 300 and a Gen 2 300C "John Varvatos". The Concorde was a very nice car for the time with immense room inside and decent power from the DOHC 3.5L. But quality was awful, it spent more time in the shop than the driveway. It gave way to a Gen 1 300, OK but the V6 was underwhelming in this car compared to the Concorde but did it's job. The Gen 1's letdown was the awful interior with acres of plastic, leather that did it's best imitation of vinyl and a featureless dashboard that looked lifted from a cheaper car. My last one was a '14 300C John Varvatos with the Pentastar. Great car, sufficient power and exceptional highway mileage. The interior was much better than the original as well. It was felled by a defective instrument cluster that took over 90 days to fix and was ultimately lemon law' d back to FCA. I'd love one of the 392 powered final edition 300s but understand they're already sold out and if I had an extra 60k available, would likely choose a CPO BMW 540i for comparable money.
  • Dukeisduke Thanks Cary. Folks need to make sure they buy the correct antifreeze, since there are some many OEM-specific ones out there (Dex-Cool, Ford gold, Toyota red and pink, etc.).And sorry to hear about your family situation - my wife and I have been dealing with her 88-yo mom, moving her into independent senior living, selling her house, etc. It's a lot to deal with.
  • FreedMike Always lusted after that first-gen 300 - particularly the "Heritage Edition," which had special 300 badging and a translucent plastic steering wheel (ala the '50s and '60s "letter cars").
  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.