2012 Volkswagen Passat
2012 Volkswagen Passat. Click image to enlarge

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Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2012 Volkswagen Passat

Chattanooga, Tennessee – You know Volkswagen is serious about its 2012 Passat sedan when you see the new, $1.1 billion Chatanooga-based plant dedicated to its assembly. Occupying 1,000 acres and employing 2,500 people by the end of this year, the recently-opened plant will produce 150,000 Passats annually. If more demand is generated by the all-new Passat, that number could rise to 250,000.

That’s for North America, of course. Volkswagen Canada would be happy to sell 8,000 2010 Passats next year here, which would double current figures. Helping in this effort is a significant reduction in the MSRP, down to $23,975 for the base model with five-speed manual transmission.

The Passat is Volkswagen’s mid-size sedan, but for 2012 — following competitive trends — it grows in all dimensions, and at 4,868 millimetres is the longest, largest Passat ever. Volkswagen reports that the Passat’s wheelbase is the longest in class, and indeed the interior is particularly spacious, similar to that of a full-size car.

2012 Volkswagen Passat
2012 Volkswagen Passat. Click image to enlarge

Externally, even though it is over 10 centimetres longer than the outgoing model, the Passat’s size is similar to competitors like the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima. It’s still shorter than the Honda Accord or Mazda6, however, which continue as the longest vehicles in this segment.

Featuring newly designed seats and optional sports seats, but now lacking the option of all-wheel drive, the fully redesigned front-wheel drive Passat is available with a choice of three engines and three transmissions in specific combinations.

Making 170-horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, the base 2.5-litre five-cylinder (I5) engine is available with a six-speed automatic transmission for an additional $1,400, bringing its price to $25,375. Fuel consumption is rated at 10.1/6.5 L/100 km, city/highway with manual transmission and 9.6/6.7 L/100 km with automatic.

The Passat TDI is powered by a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel engine making 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. It is available with a six-speed manual (6MT) transmission for $27,475 or Volkswagen’s six-speed DSG double-clutch automatic for $28,875. Its fuel consumption is estimated at 6.5/4.5 L/100 km, city/highway.

2012 Volkswagen Passat
2012 Volkswagen Passat; photo courtesy Volkswagen. Click image to enlarge

A 3.6-litre V6 making 280 hp and 258 lb.-ft. torque with standard DSG transmission completes the powertrain line-up at $33,575 (in Comfortline trim; a Highline version is worth $37,475), and is expected to account for about 10 per cent of 2012 Passat sales, with the balance split almost evenly between the I5 and TDI models. Fuel consumption is rated at 10.9/7.4 L/100km, city/highway.

Additionally, four levels of trim are offered, starting with Trendline, moving up to Trendline+ (alloy wheels, heated seats), then Comfortline and Highline. Trendline is only available on vehicles equipped with the 2.5-litre engine. Standard equipment includes a 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, 16-inch steel wheels, analog clock, automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, “Climatronic” dual-zone climate control, digital compass, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, front centre armrest, multifunction trip computer, power and heated mirrors, and cruise control. Options like navigation, alloy wheels, power seats, Fender premium audio, sunroof and leather interior are available on select models depending on the trim level.

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