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.