At the Meydan in Dubai recently, Volkswagen launched the new 2016 Passat, which is, in a nutshell, considered to be a competent midsize family sedan with an incredibly spacious back seat and a great infotainment system.
"This car will be available across the region in four configurations - S, SE, SEL and Sport - and features more aggressive styling than its predecessor," as mentioned by Mr. Thomas Milz, managing director of VW Middle East, during the launch event. But if you were expecting a full redesign and a completely different look for 2016, you'll probably be disappointed by how much the new Passat looks like the old one.
This is not a bad thing, though. Instead of making major changes to the exterior, the majority of the money Volkswagen invested in this new Passat has instead gone towards a new interior, more technology and more advanced safety features. Knowing focus groups were the main drive behind the changes and since those are the features the overwhelming majority of midsize family sedan buyers are going to be interested in, it makes sense.
The main features of the new exterior are slimmer headlights, a more substantial four-bar grille, and a muscular, domed hood, with all features blending harmoniously to give the Passat a wider, more planted stance at the front end. Additionally, a new chrome strip on the trunk ensures the rear lights appear lower, enhancing the grounded appearance, while chrome on the window surrounds, bumpers, and door trim compliments the more premium nature of the design upgrade.
Inside, the 2016 Passat showcases an extensively upgraded interior, for a more sophisticated look and feel including a new steering wheel and two-tone decor panels, and refined chrome and piano black trim. Essentially, if you liked the 2015 Passat's interior, you'll love the 2016's. The seats are exceptionally comfortable, the back seat is more than spacious enough for two adults, and the trunk is big enough to handle all your luggage, camping gear, or dead body transportation needs!
Most importantly, Volkswagen finally integrated USB ports into its cars. That means you no longer have to buy a special adapter in order to charge your phone while driving and you can finally plug it in directly (just like you've been able to in every other car on the market).
The Passat features Volkswagen's second-generation in-car infotainment system, also known as MIB II. The system features touchscreens as standard equipment on all models. On most models, the display utilizes a capacitive touch sensor (similar to smartphone and tablet technology) enabling gesture controls like swiping and pinch-zooming rather than the resistive touchscreens that require pressure and have slightly longer response times. Most infotainment units also feature a proximity sensor, which detects when a hand is nearby and automatically switches its display to allow easier selection of specific features. USB and Bluetooth connectivity are standard on all 2016 Passat models.
Featuring the three major smartphone integration platforms-Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, the in-car infotainment system allows seamless integration with the vast majority of smartphones available today.
Volkswagen also offers a combination of new safety and driver assistance systems in the 2016 Passat. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, standard on all 2016 Passat models, builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact- which can cause additional collisions. The system helps address this by applying the brakes after a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus helping to reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, reduce the chance of additional damage.
As you go up the ladder from S to Sport in choosing your Passat 2016 configuration you will enjoy different features like a two-zone climatronic air conditioning and Fender sound system with subwoofer, LED headlights and taillights for a better lighting performance with reduced energy consumption, leather sport seats, navigation system, "Discover Media" including CD-player, SD-Card reader, AUX-IN, 2x USB interface and easy-open keyless access that opens the trunk via moving a foot near the rear of the vehicle. Sports models also allow electric seat adjustment 8-way for the driver and 6-way for a passenger.
In this climate of fierce competition for market domination, the new Passat struggles to be heard. But truth be told, it's a nice and welcomed improvement to its predecessor and customers will be totally satisfied driving this sedan.
Pros: Spacious front and rear cabin, very good materials, smooth ride, safety, infotainment
Cons: Tough and crowded competition in this segment, almost identical exterior styling to its predecessor
Rivals: Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda6, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion
2.5 liter inline 5-cylinder engine, 170 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 240 Nm @ 4,250 rpm
6-speed automatic, FWD
0-100 km/h: 9 secs, top speed: 190 km/h, fuel consumption: 7.4L /100km
Weight: 1,436 kg
One word: supplemented