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New VW Passat gets driver assistance tech. Image by Volkswagen.

New VW Passat gets driver assistance tech
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2019-06-26: First drive: Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate

What's this then?

It's the new Passat, which Volkswagen has announced it will launch at the Geneva Motor Show. On the outside, the new Passat looks pretty much the same as it has done since it was launched in 2015, but underneath, VW is giving its sensible saloon a high-tech makeover.

The Passat is getting very slightly changed styling, with new headlights (now all-LED as standard), updated bumpers and, at the back, the name Passat spelled out in chrome letters across the boot lid - apparently Chinese buyers prefer it that way.

Inside, for the first time, the Passat gets the option of VW's Active Info Display digital instrument pack, and there are updates for the central touchscreens too.

The big news though is that the Passat will be the first vehicle to get VW's new 'Travel Assistant' software, part of the new IQ-Drive setup. IQ-Drive is VW's suite of automated driver aids, and this latest version means that the Passat will be "capable of partially automated driving at any speed from 0 to 210 km/h."

That means that the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistant have been upgraded - the lane keeping can now recognise grass verges as well as painted lines on the road - and the brakes have been given a new servo that makes them faster-reacting. VW says that this is still a 'Level 2' automated car, though, so the driver has to keep their eyes on the road and remain ready to take control of the vehicle. The Passat's new steering wheel helps with that - it now has touch-sensitive pads, so that it knows when the driver has their hands on the wheel.

As before, if the system reckons that you have nodded off (or worse) it will flash its lights, make beeping noises and even jab the brakes to try and bring you round. If none of that works, the car can then bring itself to a safe and controlled stop. There's also active steering, which can help you swerve out of the way of dangers in the road ahead.

The Passat's engines now all come with soot-trapping particulate filters as standard (yes, even the petrol versions), while the 2.0-litre TDI diesel gets an 'Evo' model that VW says emits 10g/km less CO2 than previously. The plugin-hybrid Passat GTE makes a return to the line-up gaining a bigger battery for more electric-only range, which now stands at 34 miles.

Finally, the infotainment system gets a major overall, gains a SIM card (which means it's now permanently web-connected) and VW will be offering options such as being able to pay for on-street parking from inside the car, or allowing courier companies to locate your car and open your boot to drop off packages. There's also a natural-speech 'hello, Volkswagen' digital voice control assistant, and built-in digital fleet management systems for company car users and fleet managers.

The updated Passat will make its debut at the Geneva show in March, before going on sale in May.

Neil Briscoe - 7 Feb 2019

2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.

2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.2019 Volkswagen Passat. Image by Volkswagen.    - Volkswagen road tests
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