Yes. it is January, and that means the 2013 North American International Auto Show is underway in Detroit. Of particular interest to this VW devotee was the Passat Performance Concept. The Garage has sampled the latest Passat, and is our pick for best mid-size sedan available in North America. And there is no denying the success of the new Passat ,which has shattered prior sales records in the US . Why? Well, VW wanted to appeal to a wider audience here, so we get the ‘American’ Passat, as opposed past generations of Passats, which was the European idea of what a mid-size car should be. Sure, the auto media heaped praise on past Passats, but the car met with limited appeal here in the States.
Volkswagen’s ambitious, and so far successful attempt to dramatically increase sales here has, inevitably, left many of the brand’s fiercely loyal buyers out in the cold. We have not been forgotten. As much as the new Jetta disappointed me, the Jetta GLI gave some assurance VW hadn’t completely lost the script.
Which leaves us with the Passat Performance Concept. Those of you thinking this signals a return to the halcyon days of W-8 Passats, think again. No, this sporty Passat sports a drivetrain much more in tune with today’s market, namely a 1.8L turbocharged, direct injected four cylinder rated at 250hp paired to a six-speed automatic. Other upgrades include dual exhaust, 19″ alloys, bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights, and carbon mirror caps. Inside, the concept features carbon accents and a two color leather interior. Finally, a lowered sport suspension and revised steering promise an improved driving experience.
Yes, the Passat Performance Concept is, of course, just that-a concept. Surely, VW is using the auto show to get a feel of how the car buying public would receive a more buttoned-down Passat. Also, it is a nod to the VW faithful. In my opinion, building this car is a no brainer. The modifications are slight, and VW already offers the same engine in foreign markets, so why not? Not to mention plenty of the Passat’s direct competition already offer turbocharged four cylinder engines (Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion). Stay tuned to see in concept becomes reality.