After going without for more than a decade, Volkswagen of America Inc. is bringing back an all-wheel-drive system for some of its cars. The company announced last week that it will offer its new 4Motion system on the V-6 Passat sedan and wagon.
Volkswagen dealers, who have long wanted the feature, will begin taking delivery of Passats with 4Motion by the end of this month, said Gerd Klauss, president of VWoA, at the Detroit auto show.
The 1988 Quantum wagon was the last Volkswagen passenger vehicle to offer awd. The system was known as Syncro.
The 4Motion system has similar technology to the popular Quattro awd system offered as an option on all Audis. While Quattro penetration can reach as high as 85 percent in certain regions, Volkswagen is expecting 4Motion to be initially ordered on about 25 percent of its Passats, Klauss said.
But Volkswagen first has some educating to do.
'We have a brochure ready to be disseminated to consumers and dealers about 4Motion's traction and safety benefits,' Klauss said. 'It will not necessarily be just marketed as a foul-weather feature, but as something that helps you bring control, stability and traction to the vehicle in any climate.'
At this time, the 4Motion system can be used only with a V-6 engine. The Passat GLS and GLX sedans and wagons are equipped with V-6 engines. The Passat also is offered with a 1.8-liter turbo four.
Volkswagen sold 68,151 Passats last year, a 73.5 percent increase over 1998.
'The 4Motion and Quattro systems 'perform equally well,' said Jens Neumann, Volkswagen AG board of management member for North America.
Volkswagen engineers continue to work on making the system compatible for the Jetta, Golf, and New Beetle with four-cylinder engines, Klauss said.
'We know engineering-wise it can be done,' Klauss said. 'But we are not quite there yet.'
The price of a Passat GLS with 4Motion will start at $26,525, including the 5-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic. The Passat GLS wagon with 4Motion is $27,325; the GLX sedan, $30,380; and the GLX wagon, $31,180.