OLBIA, Italy - Volkswagen expects another 100,000 sales annually from its face-lifted Passat.
VW plans to sell 490,000 Passats next year - an increase of more than 25 percent compared with expected sales of 390,000 units this year.
The upper-medium car's biggest market is Germany, with planned sales of 125,000 Passats next year. Another 110,000 units are expected to be sold in 2001 in the USA, the car's No. 2 market. And 240,000 more sales are forecast for other European countries next year. The remaining 15,000 sales will be spread across other world markets.
The Passat has new bodywork at the front and rear and redesigned headlights and taillights. But the changes are not only on the outside. Body stiffness has also been improved, says VW.
According to VW, the new car's torsional rigidity is 10 percent above that of the previous model's, and the quality level of the new body is higher. With these improvements and added equipment, Volkswagen is positioning its new Passat at the top of the upper-medium segment - even though the price for the entry-level model in Germany remains unchanged at DM39,507 (E20,200).
Sales have already started in France and will begin in the second week of this month in Germany. Sales in other European countries will follow two weeks later. The new Passat is expected to be available in January in the UK and other right-hand-drive markets. It will also go on sale in the USA in January.
The new car is available in sedan and station wagon versions. Five of the eight engines offered are new.
Three new gasoline engines are being introduced. A modified 1.6-liter, four-cylinder with 102hp gives the sedan a top speed of 192kph with an average fuel consumption of 7.7 liters per 100km.
Also new is a 2.0-liter gasoline unit with 125hp. With this engine the sedan reaches a top speed of 200kph with an average fuel consumption of 8.3 liters per 100km.
The new 2.4-liter five-cylinder gasoline engine was completely redesigned. It now develops 170hp and brings the sedan to a top speed of 228kph with an average fuel consumption of 9.4 liters per 100km.
All gasoline engines meet the Euro IV emissions standard. An eight-cylinder gasoline engine will be available in early 2001 for both body versions.
Two new 1.9-liter, four-cylinder diesel engines are available.
Volkswagen expects that, worldwide, 30 percent of Passat sales will be diesels. In Germany, 40 percent of sales are expected to be diesels.
Improved safety packages support the advantages provided by the stiffer body. The new Passat has standard front and side airbags. The active seat belt and airbag system has been reworked. To reduce repair costs, the airbags do not operate at speeds below 25kph. Stability in difficult driving conditions is improved by four disc brakes with larger brake diameters in combination with a wider track and an electronic stability program that is now standard.
The car's interior has new seat upholstery in the Basis, Comfortline and Trendline packages. Another noticeable change is the redesigned center console, with a repositioned handbrake lever.
An optional radio navigation system with a color monitor can be ordered for DM4,889. The price is DM3,276 with a black and white display. All Passats are offered with Isofix child seat fittings.