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GERMANY: VW revamps Passat with more high-tech

By Graeme Roberts | 15 October 2010

VW calls 2011 Passat generation 7 but its a mid-life revamp of the current model line rather than a full redesign

VW calls 2011 Passat 'generation 7' but it's a mid-life revamp of the current model line rather than a full redesign

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Following on from the revamped Jetta previewed in New York last summer, Volkswagen has updated another global model, the Passat - 15m of which have been built to date since the line launched in 1973 - adding new technology options.

The seventh generation Passat is the first VW with fatigue detection and city emergency braking functions and, at up to 4.2l/100km combined fuel consumption, the most fuel-efficient line to date.

Fatigue detection - similar to that pioneered by Toyota's Lexus line - is standard feature from the mid-range Comfortline trim level [names vary by market]. The city emergency braking function is part of the further updated adaptive cruise control plus front assist. The function, active below 30km/h (20mph), also reacts to stationary vehicles; if necessary, it automatically initiates a braking manoeuvre, thereby contributing toward avoidance of an impending front end collision or at least minimising the resulting damage.

A foot movement behind the car opens the saloon’s boot lid - it's called Easy Open. (This has also just been introduced by BMW on its 5-series Touring wagon.) At the press of a button, the car 'sees' parking spaces parallel and perpendicular to the carriageway, and upon request it can automatically steer the car into the space with centimetre precision (Park Assist II, first introduced with the Tiguan small SUV).

A 'main beam assistant' called Light Assist is now optional. If the car is equipped with bi-xenon headlights that come with cornering lights, the main beam remains continually active and is only masked where oncoming drivers could be disturbed by glare; this main beam headlight assistant is called Dynamic Light Assist. Both systems become active as soon as vehicle speed exceeds 60km/h (35mph). As on the Phaeton and Touareg, the latest Passat also - optionally - warns the driver of vehicles in the blind spot (Side Assist). Like the Opel Insignia, the latest Passat can use images from a front camera to detect speed limit signs and display them in the cockpit. This traffic sign detection system also "sees" no-passing zones when technically possible, and warns the driver.

"The technologies and the further improved workmanship and material quality is differentiating the Passat from its competitors more than ever," VW's German HQ said, in contrast to US executives who have told local media buyers there are not so focused on cabin quality and less money will be spent in this area on future models for North America.

The new line will be offered with 10 petrol and diesel engines from 77 kW/105PS to 220 kW/300PS) and all are more fuel efficient by up to 18%. The smallest turbodiesel (1.6TDI/105 PS) now sips only 4.2l/100 km; equivalent to 109g/km CO2.

The Passat will be launched first in Germany in mid-November and in the rest of Europe at the end of the month.

Production is mainly at Emden and Zwickau in Germany though some cars are assembled in export markets.