OLBIA, Italy - For 2001 Volkswagen expects big things from its face-lifted Passat - 100,000 more things to be exact.
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 United States, 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 about $16,900.
Sales have already started in France and will begin in November in Germany. Sales in other European countries will follow two weeks later. The new Passat is expected to be available in January in the United Kingdom and other right-hand-drive markets. It will also go on sale in the United States 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 102 hp gives the sedan a top speed of 119 mph with an average fuel consumption of about 31 mpg.
Also new is a 2.0-liter gasoline unit with 125 hp. With this engine the sedan reaches a top speed of 124 mph with an average fuel consumption of 28 mpg.
The new 2.4-liter five-cylinder gasoline engine was redesigned. It now develops 170 hp and brings the sedan to a top speed of 141 mph with an average fuel consumption of 25 mpg.c
All gasoline engines meet the Euro IV emissions standard. An eight-cylinder gasoline engine will be available in early 2001.
New diesel power is available with two new 1.9-liter, four-cylinder TDI engines.
Volkswagen expects that, worldwide, 30 percent of Passat sales will be diesels. In Germany, 40 percent of sales are expected to be diesels.
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 15 mph in Europe. An electronic stability program is now standard, and four-wheel disc brakes with larger brake diameters in combination with a wider track lead to improved stability in difficult driving conditions.
The car's interior has new seat upholstery. Another noticeable change is the redesigned center console, with a repositioned handbrake lever.
An optional radio navigation system with a color monitor is available. All Passats are offered with Isofix child seat fittings.