Volkswagen has released pictures of the new-generation Passat ahead of the car's debut at September's Paris auto show.
Paris will host a long list of new launches in the core uppermedium segment: Ford's new Mondeo, the Citroen Xantia replacement, the new Renault Laguna, the updated Toyota Avensis, the revised Skoda Octavia and the new Volvo S60.
VW has given the Passat a fresh look and will offer an improved choice of engines.
The Passat's front benefits from updated styling with a more purposeful grille and deeper, wider air inlets. At the back, the light clusters and trunk opening have been redesigned.
The Passat's chrome detailing was inspired, says VW, by the D1 concept car - the upper-range sedan VW showed at the Frankfurt auto show in September 1999.
The Passat's engine lineup is likely to include five gasoline units, one of which will be a new 170hp V-5. An entry-level 1.6-liter, 102hp gasoline engine will be offered in mainland Europe but not in the UK. There will be three diesels, including 100hp and 130hp 'Pumpe Duse' units that use high-pressure direct-injection technology to improve fuel economy and engine refinement.
VW - along with other manufacturers - will be hoping that the raft of new models will mark a revival in the upper-medium segment's fortunes.
The Passat was the top upper-medium model in western Europe last year with sales of 324,846 units, according to JATO Dynamics estimates - but that was 7.4 percent down on 1998 levels. The upper-medium segment as a whole plunged by almost 10 percent last year.
The new Passat will go on sale in mainland Europe in November. The UK follows in early 2001.