The new Volkswagen Passat looks like a small version of the Phaeton luxury sedan, but mechanically it is just a much bigger VW Golf.
It was 10 percent cheaper to base the new Passat on the company's PQ35 architecture than to use another architecture, says VW group CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder. VW group uses the PQ35 architecture for a number of models, including the VW Touran and Golf, Audi A3, Skoda Octavia, Seat Altea and the upcoming Seat Leon.
That's a change from the strategy used for the outgoing Passat. That car shares its longitudinal-engine architecture with the Audi A4 and A6.
The transverse-engine layout of the PQ35 architecture made it easier for the Passat to comply with European Union pedestrian safety rules that affect front-end design.
VW's definition of architecture is linked mainly to the use of common modules and systems instead of the sheet metal commonality typical of a platform. The Passat and Golf share almost no sheet metal.
The new Passat and Golf share the entire powertrain, complete front suspension, rear suspension design (but not the rear axle itself because the Passat is wider), steering column, fuel tank and seat structures. "About 50 percent of the two cars' value is common," says Wilfried Bockelmann, head of VW brand engineering.
The sixth-generation Passat sedan goes on sale in the United States in August. The Passat station wagon will debut at the Frankfurt auto show in September and will arrive in the United States in January.
Says Pischetsrieder: "We learned a lot from the Phaeton, especially precision and quality, and you'll find that in the Passat."