Volkswagen Passat History — Volkswagen Passat B2

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Volkswagen Passat B2

Volkswagen Passat

Back in the ’70s Volkswagen was floundering. more than three in production, the Beetle was simply outclassed by the competition and there was no way to the design to keep up. Meanwhile, air-cooled/rear-engine cars like the 411 and 412 that were intended to and supplement the Beetle were less than abject VW needed to do something different and the something it did differently was the Passat. It was the front-drive Volkswagen sold in America.

Fortunately for VW, it had Audi and it could steal from company with impunity.

The (and VW’s) fortunes ebb and flow through the decades, but the always-German-made car would become a of Volkswagen’s success in America. however, took 24 years.

The Dasher (1974-1981)

For no apparent VW decided to sell the car known as the in the rest of the world as the Dasher in America. But except for the name and the few safety, bumper and emissions necessary to sell the car in this the Dasher was barely different the Passat the most obvious being the Dasher’s single headlamps in place of the elongated units used in Europe. And the was little more than an 80 with a Volkswagen grille.

as the Audi Fox in the U.S. (it went on here for the 1973 model the 80 was a simple car with a longitudinally 1.5-liter, water-cooled, SOHC under its hood making 75 Built around a unibody it incorporated a MacPherson strut suspension and a beam axle on springs in the back. The only offered were either a manual or three-speed automatic.

The initially available as either a or four-door notchback sedan, was styled (by Giorgetto Giugiaro, no and quite a success for Audi in its own So to create the 1974 Dasher/Passat, didn’t mess with the Fox formula. The greatest change was the of a fastback five-door hatchback style even though of the sheet metal from the forward was common. There was a wagon model that, at initially, wasn’t shared Audi. A three-door was also in Europe, but wasn’t sent to during that first-year year.

Although the Fox and Dasher are in name and styling, wrote Track in its story reporting a of owners of the two vehicles, it is still hard to consider them automobiles. Body and interior aside, the Foxes and Dashers here are mechanically almost sharing the same basic FWD and mechanical package and mechanical

Larger than the Golf/Rabbit VW would introduce a year the Dasher was still generally than a 2005 Honda sedan, with a 97.2-inch and 172.8 inches of overall It was also roomy for the time and as styled inside as it was outside.

In a comparison with the midengine X1/9 two-seater, Road found much to admire in the Dasher. The Dasher’s engine is of the fun, it wrote. Driven it sounds virile and as we said lots of performance. It’s extremely economical for such a and in this sort of driving the or Fox owner should get at least 25 The publication also had kind for the car’s handling noting it didn’t suffer the common malady of severe understeer at the

But Road Track also things to criticize, like the nature of the engine and otherwise brakes it said rank the noisiest we’ve ever It also noted that the car was by the much roomier and better-riding the [Chevrolet] Vega despite shorter, narrower and 450 pounds Of course history would that being better the Vega wasn’t much of an but it indicates how impressive the Dasher was for its However at a $4,110 base the cheapest Dasher was just $64 shy of twice as expensive as the cheapest

While the original Dasher set the sales chart aflame its success, it sold better any other Beetle alternative VW had previously. So with that in all the carmaker did to the vehicle for 1975 was the engine’s displacement from 1.5 to 1.6 and offer the three-door hatchback. But displacement increase came a set of more stringent emissions and total output actually to just 70 hp.

Changes to the Dasher’s appearance were slight in the 1976 and 1977 model as VW concentrated on building and selling the hot Golf/Rabbit around the world. But years benefited greatly by the of Bosch fuel injection boosted output to 78 hp and promoted better drivability across the range. Still, the Dasher exactly live up to its name Track timed a four-speed Dasher two-door groaning to 60 mph in seconds and completing the quarter-mile in 19 at a breathless 72 mph.

A redesigned end with four round heralded the arrival of the 1978 and the interior was updated, but other were scant. However, in both a five-speed manual and diesel power finally to the Dasher line. With the 1.5-liter diesel four used in the Rabbit under its the diesel Dasher was underwhelming on the track.

Road Track a diesel Dasher five-door and found it to be quite a slug. the hood and you immediately know Dasher’s a diesel, wrote RT in its You can actually see the engine because not the usual myriad of wiring and that come with detoxed gasoline power With a rather anemic 48 hp, the diesel engine doesn’t up to the task of propelling a 2,530-pound weight) automobile with approaching aplomb. The car’s time of 19.4 seconds and its quarter-mile make the 2,110-pound diesel’s 15.8- and 20.4-second seem almost lightning Still, with America by the fuel crises of the ’70s, the sold well.

If you could any difference between the 1980 and the previous year’s, you were staring at its serial number. And being slower than a with a muscle cramp, the diesel became the only for 1981 .

It was time for the original the Dasher to dash off of Volkswagen’s And so it did.

Second Generation: The (1982-1988)

Quantum Leap, Mechanics, Quantum Physics#133;all and more were used to stories about VW’s to the Dasher which was called the in much of the rest of the world. The name was temporarily dead of like Mr. Spock in Star II: The Wrath of Khan . a movie coincidentally (or not), also out in 1982 .

But despite such and science fiction puns and the new Quantum three-door coupe, sedan and five-door station were greeted unenthusiastically by the at Car and Driver . After a couple miles with VW’s creation, they reported praising landmark VWs like the and Scirocco, we’d venture it will leave no such on the course of automotive history. The which replaces the aged line, doesn’t herald the of a new era or the end of an old one for that matter. Technologically it breaks no fresh ground. look now, but the new VW seems to be at exactly the same target as all of our own built letter cars the J-car, the [Chrysler] K-cars and the [GM X-cars. It stands smack in the of this burgeoning group of front-drive family sedans, also includes the Nissan Audi 4000, Renault 18i and Accord.

In fact the Quantum did split all the differences possible in At 178.1 inches long it was 4.5 inches longer than the Honda Accord sedan and 4.1 shorter than the ’82 Omega sedan (a GM X-Car). And its wheelbase was 3.9 inches longer the Accord’s and 4.5 inches briefer that well-forgotten Olds’. But the car which the Quantum had the most in was the Audi 4000 that, was the successor to the Fox.

So the Quantum still had a longitudinally engine and that engine came from the Audi/VW four family and now displaced 1.7 a slightly larger rerun of the gas in the ’80 Dasher that, the benefit of more advanced management technology, now only 74 hp. Why? Who knows? And no diesel was Buyers could choose a five-speed manual or a three-speed transmission.

The suspension was still a set of struts in front, while the end was now held up by a set of independent trailing and accompanying coil springs. the three-door Quantum and station (more or less) carried established Dasher body the five-door was replaced by a new four-door that could only been boxier if it had four sides and 90-degree angles at its Unwieldy as the Quantums looked, upright design produced an roomy interior and it’s bad to offer more space.

So the wasn’t pretty. Big deal. it was far less than quick? was a bigger problem. Car and Driver’s Quantum, a 2,440-pound three-door equipped with the five-speed, to 60 mph in 14.1 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in a 19.3 seconds with a trap speed. The magazine measured its top speed at just 91

There’s one word to describe the response to the Quantum: disinterest. So took action for 1983 the introduction of a turbocharged diesel option.

Basically the familiar VW diesel four with the of a turbocharger, the turbodiesel in the Quantum was at an uninspiring 68 hp. So if a potential buyer was by the gas-fired, four-cylinder Quantum, VW now had covered with something slower. Road Track a five-speed, turbodiesel Quantum traipsing from zero to 60 mph in seconds and finishing the quarter-mile in seconds at 69 mph.

At midyear, VW decided to do something for those an inkling of performance with the of the Quantum GL5 sedan and wagon with the same five-cylinder offered in the Audi 5000. though, the coupe had to soldier with only the anemic under its hood.Displacing 2.1 liters, the SOHC, 10-valve five was a of VW’s four-cylinder engines and was at 100 hp. That may not sound like power (mostly because, it isn’t), but back then it was the powerful engine VW had ever in a production car sold in the United But the Quantum still wasn’t in GL5 form and Road Track’ s had it sleepwalking from zero to 60 mph in seconds and running the quarter-mile in seconds at 73 mph. That’s slow, even by 1983

With sales of the three-door coupe weak, VW excised model from its 1984 The rest of the Quantum lineup was over pretty much

The five-cylinder engine expanded to 2.2 for 1985 with a bump in to 110 hp. However, the wagon was now available with the four-cylinder engine and the only with the five.

no one much wanted a Quantum with a four-cylinder engine, body style was dropped from the 1986 lineup. So the sedan became the only offered in North America. But at an all-wheel-drive version was available the name Syncro a simple of Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive

The wagon was back for 1987 and now with the five-cylinder engine and with the Syncro system.

were no significant changes to the lineup for 1988 though the was slightly retuned so as to produce 115 hp. that wasn’t enough to the world want the car.

The Quantum just sort of out after the ’88 model unloved and unmissed. It was time for the to return#133;after a suitably dignified of mourning.

Third Generation: Returns (1990-1997)

The Passat finally came to America the 1990 model year and the of this all-new sedan and Unlike the Dasher and Quantum, new Passat didn’t share its engineering with any Audi In fact it was more like a Golf with the engine transversely under a short and a suspension similar to VW’s front-drive offerings.

With third generation, VW claimed to achieved the highest ratio of space in its class. Volkswagen all kinds of statistics to prove the wrote Car and Driver on its first with the car, but all you have to do is into the back. With the seat positioned for a 6-foot-plus the passenger behind him has room to enough to cross his legs. is even room for the rear to recline a few degrees.

To achieve impressive roominess the Passat on a 103.3-inch wheelbase (2.9 longer than the superseded stretched out 180 inches overall inches longer than the and used a modern-looking body extremely flat sides, a nose, and an upright greenhouse to shoulder, hip and headroom. Of course the structure was once again a with a MacPherson strut suspension and an independent trailing arm in the rear. Disc brakes used both fore and aft ABS optional.

The standard power for the new Passat was a 2.0-liter version of the 16-valve four-cylinder engine offered in the Golf GTI. at 134 hp it was the most powerful engine offered in this class of it wouldn’t be for long. To make the of that power a newly pair of transmissions, one five-speed and one four-speed automatic, were

While generally impressed the new ’90 Passat’s interior and handling, Road Track did some criticisms in its first The Passat is something of an anomaly to us, it We waited for its U.S. introduction some excitement. After the GTI and the Jetta GLI are sport sedans provide enthusiastic driving The Passat has wonderful volumes of for occupant comfort and high-quality appointments for the most part. The of the steering and handling is distinctly as is the ride, and all combine to make the a pleasure to drive at midrange (45 to 70 mph). But the engine’s rough are undeniably obtrusive.

What can we from this? The Passat pretty much its own made-in-Europe niche above its Golf/Jetta and beneath the likes of Audi, Saab, Peugeot and the rest.

For the RT’ s test had the new Passat to 60 mph in 10.9 seconds and completing the in 17.8 seconds at 78.5 That’s a competitive performance similar cars in its class and quicker than any previous Passat or Quantum.

There only a few light updates to the Passat . as it was selling significantly than the Quantum ever But there was some powerful on the way for the next year.

That was the availability of VW’s narrow-angle VR6 V6 in a new 1992 Passat GLX model. 178 hp under its SOHC, 12-valve head, the VR6 transformed the Passat a serious sport sedan. Trend would measure the unchanged 1993 VR6 Passat GLX from zero to 60 in just 7.9 That’s solid performance by 21st-century standards.

So effective was the VR6 all 1994 Passats now had the engine Other changes were otherwise, with GLX becoming the trim level offered in the sedan and wagon.

A new nose included a traditional, trapezoidal grille was the most notable to the 1995 Passat . New bumpers and trim resulted in a growth of length to 181.3 inches an updated interior squeezed out a few millimeters of passenger space.

In a comparison test of six-cylinder-powered sedans, Road Track the ’95 Passat offered unique attractions and distractions. In ways, it reported, the Volkswagen is the antithesis of the Camry. Its ride particularly smooth; its cabin particularly quiet; its automatic detracts from the performance of the it has a few interior creaks and, it considers the driver a vital of the equation.

This last is why the Passat, in our book, gets the nod the Camry. Put another way, German sedan is meant to be not merely guided from to place. Though hampered a bit by a that’s indecisive and reluctant to the 2.8-liter narrow-angle VR6 the only in the group with a larger than stroke still out a satisfying dose of acceleration midrange up to the 6,500-rpm redline. with that indecisive and gearbox, the ’95 Passat it to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 17.2

Four-cylinder power returned to the range for 1996 with the of a new GLS sedan powered by VW’s 115-hp, 2.0-liter, SOHC That was enough to boost to 19,850 units in America, up just 14,010 the previous year.

VW’s excellent and 1.9-liter TDI turbodiesel engine was to the Passat options list for in both sedans and wagons the gasoline-fueled four was once banished from the line. 90 hp the TDI engine wasn’t exactly but it was better than any previous VW in this size class and the 149 of peak torque came at 1,900 rpm, ensuring around-town manners. And best of the Passat TDI was rated by the EPA at 47 mpg on the freeway and 38 mpg in the

After eight model this Passat was a tired but still attractive. It’s the Passat, however, that was the hit of them all.

Volkswagen Passat B2

Fourth The Popular Passat (1998-2005)

near a quarter century the first Passat made it to America as the Dasher, it finally a certified hit with the introduction of the 1998 model. And it became hit by following almost exactly the formula as the first generation by from Audi.

Based on the successful Audi A4, on its first test of the new midsize VW, the gets a stretched version of compact’s chassis just its sister car, the Audi A6. The also gets the Audi’s choices plus one. means that the Passat can be with an economical but lively turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a 30-valve V6 engine, or a Greenpeace-approved TDI that gives this car gas mileage that rivals the Chevrolet Metro.

Though our raved about the way the new Passat how much it held and the nearly interior, that wasn’t impressed us most. Rather, it was the way it Nimble, peppy and fun are not how we usually family cars, we enthused, but the fills out those descriptions The Passat is nimble because it is on the wonderful A4 platform that the book on how front-wheel-drive cars can be to handle. It changes direction tracks evenly through a and exhibits minimal body when tossed into a Its highway ride is exceptional, offering none of the harshness broken pavement and expansion that often characterize cars.

While the fourth-generation is still front-drive, it is engineered unlike any previous edition. The is (as it was on the original Dasher) mounted in the chassis, but the front suspension is now a arrangement that offers better geometry than the MacPherson struts used The rear suspension is a set of trailing sprung with a torsion

At 184.1 inches long on a wheelbase, the ’98 Passat and wagon were easily the cars Volkswagen had built up to time. But that large didn’t translate into an power plant. In fact the four-cylinder engine’s size dropped to just 1.8 liters, with five valves per and a turbocharger that resulted in a 150-hp output with low-end torque production. The 2.8-liter, 90-degree, 30-valve V6 in the Audi A4 was optional on the Passat GLX and its 190 hp made for an easygoing everyday Both a five-speed manual and automatic transmission were’s first test had the new GLS powered by the 1.8-liter turbo zipping to 60 mph in just 8.2 seconds. Our of a Passat GLS wagon (also by the four) made it to 60 in just 8.6 despite being burdened the automatic transmission.

The ’98 was an immediate and massive hit for VW as buyers recognized that its roomy and interior, sophisticated chassis and overall appearance made it one of the family cars on the market. VW a big 39,272 Passats during the model year and that was the beginning.

VW was supposed to introduce an Passat and offer the V6 in the wagon for . but both were delayed so the quo was maintained. U.S. sales to 68,151 Passats this year and that, when with the 83,434 copies of the introduced New Beetle, headed a renaissance in VW sales in North

The V6 wagon appeared for 2000 and manual operation of the automatic was a new option, but otherwise the 2000 was almost indistinguishable from the year. And that was good to earn a victory in that’ nine-way comparison of family sedans. To say that the Passat impressed us would be a understatement, we concluded. In nearly category, the Passat finished in the place or show position.

we were suckers for the crisp-edged communicative handling and incredible fit and In our performance trials, the Passat fell below third in any Adding to our enthusiasm was the fact the Passat comes standard a five-speed manual transmission, would have cut $1,075 the price tag of our automatic-equipped test

Price didn’t seem to the Passat in our standings. As most of the test at $29,295, our Passat GLX was in terms of price point and but the VW proved that it was worth penny#133;and more.

The praise got more effusive after For the record, our V6-equipped Passat GLX the Tiptronic automatic made it to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds and gobbled the quarter-mile in 16 at 88.9 mph. All-wheel finally also made it to generation Passat with the of the 4Motion system (the quattro system with a name) for this model and we drove a wagon so equipped. And VW another 84,521 Passats year.

There were no changes to the 2001 Passat and success with the car continued However at midyear a 2001.5 of the car brought a revised and reinforced elegant chrome exterior an updated interior and 20 more (for a total of 170) to the turbo engine. Our encounters the revised Passat were positive even as we noted a increase in the car’s price.

How far the Passat had moved becomes with the introduction of the 2002 and the availability of VW’s innovative W8 teamed up with the 4Motion and the five-speed automatic transmission. two narrow-angle V4s joined 72 degrees at a common crankcase, the W8 displaces 4.0 and is rated at 270 hp. We were, once impressed. The W8 is also as smooth as Montalban is with the ladies to engineering advancements, we reported. Get on the and the W8 emits a refined exhaust and loads of low-end thrust, the of which is lacking in 1.8T and V6 engines. Of course immediately this First Drive, editorial policy was modified to the mention of Ricardo Montalban again.

But there was a major problem the W8: the price. At $37,900 for the sedan and for the wagon, we warned, the Passat on the toes of some pretty cars. The buying public agrees and the W8 has never sold in numbers.

Amazingly though, and in its year of production, the Passat was enough to win our 2002 Premium Sedan Test. That’s an run for a car in such a keenly competitive segment.

A new base GL model was to the Passat range for 2003 and the W8 now be had with a six-speed manual but most everything else the sedan and wagon carried unchanged.

The diesel was back in the Passat with the introduction of the TDI turbo four. A thoroughly diesel, the TDI is rated at 134 hp and delivers if not scintillating, performance in the Passat. the diesel engine is noticeably than its gasoline-burning brethren the car, Dan Kahn wrote in our Drive of the Passat TDI, the noise level is hardly inside with the windows up. This may in fact be testament to advanced sound-deadening technology. The vibrates the entire car a little than we would like at as you can pick up slight engine through the steering wheel and when sitting at a stoplight. smoothes out as the engine speed however, and at highway speeds the noise and vibration is hardly Throw in EPA mileage ratings of 27 in the and 38 on the highway, and the Passat TDI is sure to to the miserly who need a roomy

The 2005 Passat was a carryover and no bad thing. But after eight with this breakthrough can the next Passat maintain momentum?

Fifth Generation: The Passat (2006-Beyond)

As this is the next Passat is still a few away from going on in North America. But VW has already photos and some specifications.

No the largest car in VW’s lineup, it’s no surprise that the Passat looks like a version of VW’s new flagship, the And it’s no surprise that, as the Passat grows a bit with new generation it’s about 2 longer overall than the Passat, slightly more 2 inches wider, and rides on a about a quarter-inch longer.

The general design of multilinks up and trailing arms in back change much for this But the engines are once again mounted in the nose, indicating this car isn’t directly on an Audi platform. VW claims of the car’s length can now be dedicated to and luggage accommodations.

In the Passat’s bay, innovation starts the use of new direct-injection gasoline engines for all but the four. A new direct-injection 3.2-liter V6 247 hp will sit at the top of the range.

If VW maintains its vehicle development schedule, the newest Passat here the end of 2005 with both and six-cylinder gasoline engines power to the front wheels. expect the range to expand the years#133;who knows what or 2011 could bring?

Volkswagen Passat B2
Volkswagen Passat B2
Volkswagen Passat B2
Volkswagen Passat B2


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