Volkswagen's Not Wasting Many Resources on the Next Passat

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen s 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.

  • Bullnuke It may be awhile before these show up on US shores. The MV Fremantle Highway has just started demo/reconstruction in Rotterdam after the large fire when transporting its last shipment of electric Porsche products.
  • Fie on Fiasler Big, fast and thirsty does not equal good. True luxury is not cobbled together by the UAW.
  • Inside Looking Out I see it as gladiator races - only one survives in virtual world.
  • Crown They need to put the EcoDiesel back in the Grand Cherokee. I have a 2018 and it has been the most reliable vehicle I ever owned. 69,000 miles and only needed tires, and regular oil and fuel filter changes.
  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.