Caravan owners may want to note that the new Passat is available with Trailer Assist

Caravan owners may want to note that the new Passat is available with 'Trailer Assist'

Volkswagen has revealed new versions of the Passat, described by CEO Martin Winterkorn as "Europe's most successful company car," ahead of their first public airing at the Paris Motor Show this autumn.

The promotional slogan for the next Passat is 'New Business Class', a reference to the importance of the fleet market to its sales performance in Europe and to its uprated quality, technology and content.

It is a little longer, lower and wider than the previous model, but provides more head, leg and luggage space.

The 1.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines available at launch are up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient, aided by an 85kg reduction in the car's overall weight. A plug-in hybrid e-Passat will be added in time, giving the car a theoretical range of more than 600 miles and the ability to travel up to 31 miles on battery power alone.

VW says the new Passat will be available with advanced safety systems and greater levels of connectivity. "Cars and computers are amalgamating more and more," says Winterkorn.

The car features a self-parking system that also works when a trailer is attached. There is also an Active Info Display which provides information to the driver graphically through the instrument display to reduce distractions. A retractable head-up display will also be on offer.

The Passat is VW's third-best seller globally, and also in the UK when all body styles are taken into account. The company sells 1.1 million a year, mainly in China, Europe and America, although Russia and Turkey are also becoming important markets. UK sales currently run at a combined 23,000 a year. 

The Chinese and American versions differ from the European model, and that will continue with the newcomer, although in time they are also expected to adopt the MQB platform. China will again have a longer-wheelbase car.