The Passat was designed according to the motto “one car for everything and everybody”. It has been on the market for over 40 years. The first models were designed by the famous Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro at the beginning of the 1970s. Today, there are already 8 generations. We’ll review Passat’s history from the first draft in 1973 until today.
In 1973, Volkswagen lay the foundation of their still ongoing success story with the Passat B1. The clear Italian design by Giorgetto Giugiaro was a huge step for Volkswagen in 1973. The mid-range car debuted with a modern hatchback, a big trunklid, liquid-cooled engines and modern driving quality
You could choose from three engines: 1.3 L capacity/55 PS, L 1.5 L/75 PS, and TS 1.5 L/85 PS, as well as a four-speed manual transmission or three-speed automatic. The spacious station wagon was released in 1974 and was called Variant like its predecessors.
The Passat B2 or 32b caused a stir upon its release in the fall of 1980. From February 1982, the harmoniously designed five-door car by designer Luca Rezzonico was also available as three-door hatchback and five-door Variant.
The Passat B2 had much more interior space, it was slightly longer and you could choose from a variety of engines. From 1982, it was available for the first time with a turbo diesel engine (1.6 L capacity/69 PS). In October 1984, the four-wheel drive Passat Syncro debuted with a capacity of 2.0 L and 115 PS, or 2.0 L and 120 PS, each with a five-cylinder engine and as Variant GT. In summer 1984, the well-equipped and noble Passat Carat was presented. And from September 1982, the Santana, a big sedan based on the Passat, was already sold by car dealers
From April 1988, the completely newly developed Passat B3 offered a revolutionary look with a transversely mounted engine, a cable-controlled gearshift as well as a front without a grill. Herbert Schäfer was responsible for the design. The Passat B3 exclusively launched as four-door sedan, and from June 1988 also as Variant. There never was a hatchback model.
Thanks to the transversely mounted engine, the interior became much more spacious, especially for front-seat passengers. The widely galvanized Passat B3 was sold with different equipment: CL, GL and GT. ABS could be added since the series’ launch and since 1990 the B3 has offered a standard seat-belt tensioner. You could order airbags for both, the driver and the front-seat passenger.
Quite a bit had happened regarding the models: unforgettable are the Passat G60 (1.8 L capacity/160PS, Syncro four-wheel drive) from 1988 until 1992, and from 1990 the VR six cylinder engine with 174 PS.
In 1993, the Passat B4 was introduced, which was a facelift of the B3. The most obvious exterior change was the re-introduction of the classical grill which, together with the rectangular twin headlights behind a single cover glass, and the layout of the turn signals and fog lights in the front bumper, made up the so-called “Happy Face” of Volkswagen. They also changed parts of the bumpers and taillight, and the longitudinal ribbing on the body side line has been eliminated in favor of even sides.
Standard equipment now included airbags for driver and front-seat passenger, ABS, side impact protection and seat-belt tensioners. Furthermore, the Passat B4 was available with an extremely economical diesel direct injection engine TDI (1.9 L/90 PS, from 1996: 110 PS). Top model was the Passat VR6 Syncro Exclusiv with 184 PS and a top speed of 235 km/h.
The B5 was a completely newly developed car in 1996. Designed by Hartmut Warkuß, the B5 generation offered “Business-genes” for the first time and especially the Variant TDI was popular amongst professionals who had to drive a lot. The B5 was available in Basic, Comfortline, Trendline and Highline trim levels.
Quality was the order of the day. The B5 impressed with a fully galvanized body, an elaborate interior and high ride comfort - due to the four-link front suspension and an enhanced semi-independent torsion beam - and a warranty of 11 years.
The four-wheel drive system Syncro was technological altered and renamed to 4MOTION. Back then you could order three different models and engines - first a 2.8 L V6 petrol engine with 193 PS or a 2.5 TDI V6 with 150 PS.
In 2000, the top Passat model W8 was launched - 4.0 litres/275 PS. You recognized this 250km/h top-speed car by its four chromed tailpipes. Today the W8 has become an absolute collector’s car.
In 2005, the B6 launched with improved engines, improved workmanship and high-quality interior. A visual highlight was the fully chromed grill which extended into the bumper. The next sensation was the Passat BlueMotion which launched in summer 2006. It was offered as Sedan and as Variant. Despite being economical and having a longer gear ratio, the Passat BlueMotion reached top speeds of 193/190 km/h (Variant).
The Passat R36 with a 3.6 L VR-6 FSI engine with 220 kW / 300 PS was available in December 2007. Bi-Xenon lights, LED taillights, sport seats, DSG, 4Motion, metal pedals, chromed dual tailpipes, darkened grill and blue brake calipers were the main features of the new top sports model. In 2008, the new common-rail diesel engines were introduced. In 2008, the new common-rail diesel engines were introduced.
In 2010, the Passat B7 launched as sedan and as Variant. In terms of design, the new model had more chrome features, except on the grill. The Passat Alltrack 2012 was designed for use in light off-road conditions with 30 millimeters of raised ground clearance and distinct design features. The petrol engines were offered with 160 and 210 PS, the diesel engines with 140 and 160 PS. Features such as Hill Descent Control are standard, the more powerful engines also had 4Motion and DSG. The Passat B7 had modern technology with a Start/Stop system and a micro-hybrid system. The TSI-CNG model was also available with a gas engine.
The eight generation of the VW Passat family (B8) premiered at Autosalon Paris in October 2014 as sedan and Variant. It was the first time a Passat was available with a twin-turbocharged engine. The powerful 2.0 TDI either had 190 or even 240 PS and was the most powerful Passat diesel engine to date. It accelerates to 240 km/h and convinces with a fuel economy of only 5.3 L/100 km. One reason were the highly modern SCR catalysts (Selective Catalytic Reduction).
The petrol engines 1.4 TSI and 2.0 TSI had a power of 125 PS up to 200 PS, the latter allowing a top speed of 246 km/h. All engines meet the emissions standard Euro 6. The Alltrack model, with added ground clearance is also suitable for use in light off-road conditions.
Today, the Passat is equipped with many electronic assistance systems such as Emergency Assist (helps to stay in lane and maintain speed in case of an emergency), camera-based 360-degree view, pedestrian detection, mobile services such as Car-Net and App-Connect and many more.
Find more information about the Passat on the Volkswagen homepage.
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