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History of Volkswagen Passat
The Volkswagen Passat is a large family car produced by the German automotive manufacturer from 1973 to the present day, spanning eight design generations. These successive generations use the Volkswagen internal numbering designations such as B1, B2, etc. After Volkswagen Group's acquisition of Audi, Volkswagen used their newfound engineering expertise to develop a front-wheel drive car with a water-cooled engine. This led to the launch of the Passat and Golf vehicles in the early 1970s, thought to be the first in a new generation of Volkswagen cars. Spanning eight design generations, it's easy to see how the Volkswagen Passat has become such a popular vehicle. Seemingly getting better with age, the Passat was awarded What Car? Car of the Year's Safety Award 2015, as well as 2015 Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show, among numerous other prestigious awards.
Volkswagen Passat B1 And B2 (1973 - 1988)
Volkswagen launched the Passat in 1973, in both two- and four-door saloon variants as well as three- and five-door hatchback versions. All of them were styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The first gen Passat was mechanically similar to the Audi 80 saloon introduced the previous year, utilising VW's acquisition of the Audi brand.
The Passat was ahead of its time, recognised as one of the most modern family cars in Europe. Designed to replace the then ageing Volkswagen Type 3 and Type 4 vehicles, the Passat utilised four-cylinder OHC 1.3 litre and 1.5 litre petrol engines.
1981 saw the launch of the second generation Volkswagen Passat. Known as the B2, after the platform used, it was again based on the corresponding model of Audi 80, which launched in 1978. The Mk2 Passat was longer in length than its predecessor and featured dynamic styling, with the addition of rectangular headlights. As with the first generation, the B2 Passat was sold with four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, although unlike its predecessor new top-of the line versions received five-cylinder Audi or VW engines ranging from 1.9 to 2.2 litres.
Volkswagen Passat B3, B4 (1988 - 1996)
The third gen Passat launched in 1988, with a no-grille aesthetic that many felt was reminiscent of older Volkswagen models. It was the first transverse-engine layout Passat to be built on a Volkswagen-designed platform, rather than sharing one with an Audi saloon.
Although known as the B3, the Mk3 Passat was based on the same A platform as was used for the Golf, just with stretched dimensions. This generation of Passat was available as a four-door saloon or a five-door estate, with no hatchback formats available from this point onwards. This generation was also the first to be marketed under the Passat name in all markets, which was a first in North America.
The new fuel-injected petrol engines were found to perform better than the carburettor units used before. The transverse mounting allowed the floorpan to adapt to suit Volkswagen's 'Syncro' four-wheel drive system. Engine options came from a 2.0 litre 16-valve engine, a 1.8-litre engine and a 1.8 litre 8v PB engine which was originally seen in the Golf GTi.
The Mk3 Passat was facelifted in 1993 and designated as the fourth gen B4 model, although it was not an all-new vehicle. The facelift included external body panels and the re-introduction of a grille, to give a more aggressive appearance. Inside there were mild updates including updated safety equipment, dual front airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners.
Volkswagen Passat B5 And B5.5 (1996 - 2006)
1997 saw the launch of the fifth gen B5 Passat in the UK, which once again shared a platform with the first gen Audi A4 - as with the B2. The car boasted a variety of suspension and drive options, including the introduction of 4WD as an option for the 1.8, 2.8 V6, 1.9 TDI and 2.5 V6 TDI engines. VW dropped the 1.6 petrol engine by 1999, leaving the 1.8 20-valve as the entry-level engine.
The B5.5 name was used for B5 Passat models built after 2000. These saw minor styling and mechanical updates including new headlights, bumpers, tail lights and trims. An eight-valve 1.6 litre engine was the least powerful petrol engine from this point.
Volkswagen Passat B6, B7 And B8 (2005 - Present)
The Mk6 Passat was launched in 2005 at the Geneva Motor Show, and no longer shared a platform with its Audi equivalent. It was instead based on a modded version of the Mk5 Golf's PQ46 platform, and featured a transverse engine layout. This Passat featured FSI petrol engines ranging from 1.6 to 3.6 litres, with a popular multi valve 2.0 litre TDI diesel option also.
The CC, or Comfort Coupé, was a four-door coupé variant of the Passat which launched at the 2008 North American International Auto Show. The aim for VW was for the Passat CC to compete with the Mercedes CLS, with the new CC intended to be more stylish and luxurious than the existing Passat models.
Known as the B7, the Mk7 Passat was a redesigned version of the B6 by Klaus Bischoff and Walter de Silva. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2010, the interior featured minor changes from the B6 although the dashboard remained unchanged.
The latest generation Passat was introduced to the UK in January 2015 as a four-door saloon and estate. Based on a stretched version of the MQB platform, it featured lightweight materials such as aluminum and vacuum-formed steel to help keep weight down overall. The previous engine line-up was re-introduced for this generation, including the 1.4 litre TSI petrol engine and two SCR diesel engines, one being twin-turbocharged. The 2015 Passat was awarded the 2015 European Car of the Year award.