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Cory Wolfe

NAIAS 2011 - All New Volkswagen Passat - Our Thoughts

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Considering it was done 4 years ago....

post-51-0-43074900-1295574661.jpg

Fancy colors only take you so far. It's the material quality that finishes the job. The Passat certainly looks like it could have both.

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Considering it was done 4 years ago....

post-51-0-43074900-1295574661.jpg

Fancy colors only take you so far. It's the material quality that finishes the job. The Passat certainly looks like it could have both.

The difference between the Malibu and the old Passat/CC interior is the materials, the quality, and the attention to detail.

In addition to high quality and build quality, it has lots of wonderful details from the contrasting stitching and piping, even on the floor mats, to the designs of ordinary controls such as for the sunroof.

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Malibu has contrast piping, Fusion and Milan have contrast stitching, so I wouldn't call the Passat doing it market leading.

Is the Passat still using that rotary control for the sunroof that GM was using way back on the '97 Catera?

Again, I'm not bashing the Passat. I'm just not seeing the breakaway market leader you are.

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Malibu has contrast piping, Fusion and Milan have contrast stitching, so I wouldn't call the Passat doing it market leading.

Is the Passat still using that rotary control for the sunroof that GM was using way back on the '97 Catera?

Again, I'm not bashing the Passat. I'm just not seeing the breakaway market leader you are.

Well its not on the floor mats, or the door panels, or the shifter.

The Malibu's door panels are pretty weak, never been a strong point, nor has the center stack or the cutlines, or the lack of a rear arm rest.

As far as the sunroof control, I'll have to dig up a picture of it.

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I'm afraid interior preferences are hardly objective truth

The objective truth is that the new VW interior is neither revolutionary nor evolutionary...it's pretty much a draw. Not a good way to start off a 5 year design cycle.

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considering VW sold 1200 Passats last month, regardless of how nice its interior is, it just sort of tells the tale that it wasn't contributing to it being a sales success, more folks expected it on the CC, or went the easy route and bought a cheaper competitor and lived with what they had.

Basically VW probably just said the Passat interior as it is cost way too much for them to go down the price ladder. But it would have been nice to keep a little more of its snazzy character.

I just know the new Jetta's plastic and door panels (especially the lower trims) is just plain dreadful. I hope the bottom trims of this Passat do not resort to dumbing down the trim so much.

Edited by regfootball

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I'm just going to try and veer this topic off path: someone 'Shoop a Mercury badge on the new Passat. It channels the spirit of the '86 Sable quite well and it's a little creepy.

Before you get butthurt, no it doesn't look like a copy in any direct way, but there is definitely a peculiar aura about it that suggests an '86 Sable ... wonder why?

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Malibu has contrast piping, Fusion and Milan have contrast stitching, so I wouldn't call the Passat doing it market leading.

Is the Passat still using that rotary control for the sunroof that GM was using way back on the '97 Catera?

Again, I'm not bashing the Passat. I'm just not seeing the breakaway market leader you are.

VW has been using using the rotary control for the sunroof just as long and is sticking with it. Every current and upcoming VW retains the design. I, personally, don't care for it, but many VW fanbois do.

The biggest point to be made is that this new Passat isn't really a Passat. It was designed as an all new vehicle, naming it "Passat" came later in the cycle. VW essentially avoided Ford's mistake in abandoning the Taurus nameplate and recycled the well-regarded name. Because of all this, the interior is intentionally a downgrade from the outgoing Passat. Knocking the base price $8k will do such a thing. As well, the picture Dodgefan posted is of the even more expensive CC that we will still have if you want what the old Passat represented.

Also, having been in the LaCrosse, it's essentially a draw on material quality. However, the LaCrosse's base price is where the current Passat is.

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Considering it was done 4 years ago....

post-51-0-43074900-1295574661.jpg

Fancy colors only take you so far. It's the material quality that finishes the job. The Passat certainly looks like it could have both.

I've forgotten just how bad that color combination is.

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Let me make a few guesses as to what makes this new Passat so much cheaper.

  • So long gas-charged hood struts, hello prop-rod.
  • Same goes for the trunk. Meet gooseneck hinges.
  • The dashboard probably follows the same persuasion as the Saturn Aura: the grain is uniform and nice and the upper dash is plush enough for dry-humping, but the lower dash feels like Tupperware.
  • Halogen bulbs in all exterior lighting.
  • Powertrains are one-generation old.
  • Read-outs are housed in a black hole. So-long ornate detailing.
  • Cloth is probably of a Jo-Ann caliber and the leather is little better than spandex. The stitching and patterns are taken from a few of Mr. Rodgers' sweaters.

Pretty much, right?

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Let me make a few guesses as to what makes this new Passat so much cheaper.

  • So long gas-charged hood struts, hello prop-rod.
  • Same goes for the trunk. Meet gooseneck hinges.
  • The dashboard probably follows the same persuasion as the Saturn Aura: the grain is uniform and nice and the upper dash is plush enough for dry-humping, but the lower dash feels like Tupperware.
  • Halogen bulbs in all exterior lighting.
  • Powertrains are one-generation old.
  • Read-outs are housed in a black hole. So-long ornate detailing.
  • Cloth is probably of a Jo-Ann caliber and the leather is little better than spandex. The stitching and patterns are taken from a few of Mr. Rodgers' sweaters.

Pretty much, right?

Actually...

  • Yes, prop rod.
  • Yes, goosenecks.
  • No, the interior is on par with the previous Passat, material wise.
  • Yes, no projectors or LEDs.
  • Neither yes or no. The powertrains aren't new, but they're fully competant.
  • No?
  • No, the seats are still the best in the business.

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The biggest point to be made is that this new Passat isn't really a Passat. It was designed as an all new vehicle, naming it "Passat" came later in the cycle. VW essentially avoided Ford's mistake in abandoning the Taurus nameplate and recycled the well-regarded name. Because of all this, the interior is intentionally a downgrade from the outgoing Passat. Knocking the base price $8k will do such a thing. As well, the picture Dodgefan posted is of the even more expensive CC that we will still have if you want what the old Passat represented.

No disrespect, but that sounds like the biggest load of fanboy rationalization I've heard in a long time. At least we now agree the interior is a downgrade. At least we agree that VW is doing this to increase sales by lowering the base price.

This is exactly what I have a problem with: VW has enjoyed being a mainstream brand that commands a premium reputation and transaction price despite having notoriously poor build quality/reliability. How many brands can get away with making lineups that fall apart after 3-4 years and yet still be regarded as premium and desirable?? That's quite a feat, and it's only because the interior materials are beyond top-notch and the driving dynamics are great. Now VW is messing with the interior equation in order to increase short-term sales numbers. Well guess what?? The new interiors aren't bad by any means, but they fall short of what VW is known for, and they offer much less of a competitive advantage vs. the competition. So now you have VW, with non-premium interiors, non-premium prices, and (until proven otherwise) bottom-of-class reliability/build quality.

My prediction: sales will go up in the short term, but after a generation or two the public will catch onto the cost-cutting and no longer be willing to put up with build quality issues, leading to long-term erosion of the brand. Why? Because this has happened sooooooo many times when an automaker gets cocky and wants to boost sales numbers and/or market share. Now, if VW can somehow radically improve their build quality/reliability, then I don't think the brand will erode, per se, but the lineup won't command the same premium market position as it did before.

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No disrespect, but that sounds like the biggest load of fanboy rationalization I've heard in a long time. At least we now agree the interior is a downgrade. At least we agree that VW is doing this to increase sales by lowering the base price.

This is exactly what I have a problem with: VW has enjoyed being a mainstream brand that commands a premium reputation and transaction price despite having notoriously poor build quality/reliability. How many brands can get away with making lineups that fall apart after 3-4 years and yet still be regarded as premium and desirable?? That's quite a feat, and it's only because the interior materials are beyond top-notch and the driving dynamics are great. Now VW is messing with the interior equation in order to increase short-term sales numbers. Well guess what?? The new interiors aren't bad by any means, but they fall short of what VW is known for, and they offer much less of a competitive advantage vs. the competition. So now you have VW, with non-premium interiors, non-premium prices, and (until proven otherwise) bottom-of-class reliability/build quality.

My prediction: sales will go up in the short term, but after a generation or two the public will catch onto the cost-cutting and no longer be willing to put up with build quality issues, leading to long-term erosion of the brand. Why? Because this has happened sooooooo many times when an automaker gets cocky and wants to boost sales numbers and/or market share. Now, if VW can somehow radically improve their build quality/reliability, then I don't think the brand will erode, per se, but the lineup won't command the same premium market position as it did before.

I haven't said it wasn't a downgrade, merely that it's no worse than its newly comparable competition. While design has taken a step back and available luxuries doesn't make up as long a list, material quality hasn't suffered. Like I've noted before, this isn't a Jetta part 2 in the interior department. Directly after sitting in the new Passat, I sat in a CC and a Jetta. It's a water-down version, which is the point.

You may not like Volkswagen's intent, that's fine. It's not meant to appeal to you. Who it will appeal to? Those who continually buy Camrys, Accords, Malibus, etc. These people don't shop based on style nor whether or not the older Passat had a slightly more interesting and expensive interior. Why? The older Passat was priced out of contention and consideration. Only two vehicles managed lower sales in Volkswagen's line-up: the Touareg and Eos. Even the Routan and the 12 year old New Beetle outsold the Passat. Not only that, the Jetta wagon outsold it. Volkswagen sold 12,497 Passats last year and that was a 12% increase. I don't know about you, but I would probably want to do something differently, as well.

Regarding reliability, it has always been factory related, the components themselves have proven to be sound, except for a few cases such as outsourced fuel pumps on certain vehicles. Volkswagen is attempting to address this with an all new factory. In addition, the now downmarket car should prove to be an easier product to produce. This is a big question mark that neither of us will know the true answer to until later on.

I fully understand the need for this car for Volkswagen's sake. Will I ever buy one? No, it doesn't appeal to me and isn't meant to. Rather than condemn it, I'm eager to see where it takes Volkswagen and am giving it a chance to either prove itself or fail.

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And I've also maintained that it is adequate and will be for a model year or two...but then the competition will surely leapfrog it.

I think we're approaching this from two different angles here: you're looking at the car, and I'm looking at the car within the context of the new Jetta and am predicting the future company direction. New Jetta, new Passat, I'm seeing a pattern here and it isn't good. Honestly this is comparable to Cadillac of the late 70s and early 80s--premium brand, goes for sales numbers, cuts costs and "premiumness" to broaden appeal/attainability, it works for a few years with great sales growth numbers, but long-term erodes strong brand equity. I could be wrong, but that's my intuition here. As you said, this doesn't appeal to you...hopefully VW will continue to produce cars that WILL appeal to you.

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That is definitely something to think about, true. This is exactly why I say I'm eager to see where this takes Volkswagen, whether it be for better or for worse.

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Basically they've tried to maintain the Volkswagen superiority, or whatever you want to call it, but offer it at a more competitive price. IMO, they've succeeded in retaining its German-engineered "premium-ness" with this new, less-expensive model. No other car in its class offers a DSG transmission, or a TDI engine, or bigger brakes. The design is conservative, but it isn't gimmicky or prone to falling out of fashion after a couple of years.

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Exactly. They are thankfully backing away from trendiness and approaching Icon status. This is more purely Volkswagen than recent efforts. The blobby Mk V Golf/Jetta come to mind. Perhaps Volvo and Mercedes-Benz should follow VW's lead and bring back more function and conservatism in their designs. I do like the GLK for this reason.

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And I've also maintained that it is adequate and will be for a model year or two...but then the competition will surely leapfrog it.

I think we're approaching this from two different angles here: you're looking at the car, and I'm looking at the car within the context of the new Jetta and am predicting the future company direction. New Jetta, new Passat, I'm seeing a pattern here and it isn't good. Honestly this is comparable to Cadillac of the late 70s and early 80s--premium brand, goes for sales numbers, cuts costs and "premiumness" to broaden appeal/attainability, it works for a few years with great sales growth numbers, but long-term erodes strong brand equity. I could be wrong, but that's my intuition here. As you said, this doesn't appeal to you...hopefully VW will continue to produce cars that WILL appeal to you.

VWs sales have no where to go but up. They are still just barely being outsold by Subaru.

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No disrespect, but that sounds like the biggest load of fanboy rationalization I've heard in a long time. At least we now agree the interior is a downgrade. At least we agree that VW is doing this to increase sales by lowering the base price.

This is exactly what I have a problem with: VW has enjoyed being a mainstream brand that commands a premium reputation and transaction price despite having notoriously poor build quality/reliability. How many brands can get away with making lineups that fall apart after 3-4 years and yet still be regarded as premium and desirable?? That's quite a feat, and it's only because the interior materials are beyond top-notch and the driving dynamics are great. Now VW is messing with the interior equation in order to increase short-term sales numbers. Well guess what?? The new interiors aren't bad by any means, but they fall short of what VW is known for, and they offer much less of a competitive advantage vs. the competition. So now you have VW, with non-premium interiors, non-premium prices, and (until proven otherwise) bottom-of-class reliability/build quality.

My prediction: sales will go up in the short term, but after a generation or two the public will catch onto the cost-cutting and no longer be willing to put up with build quality issues, leading to long-term erosion of the brand. Why? Because this has happened sooooooo many times when an automaker gets cocky and wants to boost sales numbers and/or market share. Now, if VW can somehow radically improve their build quality/reliability, then I don't think the brand will erode, per se, but the lineup won't command the same premium market position as it did before.

sometimes people are so brand conscious, and maybe haven't bought a new car before. the VW rep is what you say, but they may be so hung up on brand, and not actually savvy, cognizant, or experienced enough buying vehicles to be objective enough to see whether it has been watered down.

It's like someone who might buy Levi's at Target. They aren't getting real Levi's. The tag says they are, and all they really care about is the tag.

So it is pretty much as you say. VW is really smarter than you think, they think they can identify the exact things they can decontent and still meet a precisely debated level of performance or quality on things like the handling, suspension, etc. But they still are across the board lowering their standards while trying to ride their brand equity. It's exactly a short term grab.....but its also a long term strategy. Knowing that there will be global consolidation and brands will die, other brands will become elite and that is what VW wants. Share = ability to rise to one of the top 5 groups. They are being aggressive about it and quite honestly know a large portion of that share rests on price. They probably feel they couldn't impact their quality as dramatically, or take their performance to a whole nother level. SO the last denominator to fck with is the price. And the marketing.

I am actually the perfect example. I do like the current Passat. Every time I shop I look at the Passat, but in comparison to what I end up with it tends to be a bit out of reach. I am not saying the current car is a bad value. It's not. It's just a bit higher on the price level than it would take to suck in more buyers. But the car is so nice that they cannot drop the price. It's just like Walmart who forces their suppliers to come up with a product they can sell for 'x amount' to 'this group'. Last fall for my daughter's school i wanted to get her a pencil sharpener. Cash is tight, I am fine mormally buying one for 20 bucks because i know it will last. Instead i got her a cute pink one from walmart for 5.50. It was a name brand, but obviously a cheapened version built for a marketing event.

So normally I am shopping things like Malibus and Fusions and Altimas class. The only way the Passat can fit there is to revert to the LCD. VW just thinks their version of the LCD will still be more desirable either by actually preserving SOME of its German character (rather than none) or simply by brainwashing the masses (marketing) into thinking its a German car with a real advantage. In my case, now a Passat IS attainable to me as it is a car I would consider over or aside any of those cars.

VW also has heritage in the past as cheap $h!boxes anyways. 'People's car'? So to some extent its not like they haven't built their brand on that before.

It's just too bad they have to give up a lot of the progress they made in being 'premium'. There are plenty of idiot shoppers out there though that won't notice stuff like the terrible plastic inside the Jetta, etc.....

Or the Jo-Ann fabrics...LOL i almost spit my drink out on that one. That was funny.....LOL

Part of me thinks VW is intentionally citing ridiculous sales goals. Even if they proclaim 800k units, I think they will be pleased as punch with 500k units, if it means other competition is taken out of the equation or badly bloodied.

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Let me make a few guesses as to what makes this new Passat so much cheaper.

  • So long gas-charged hood struts, hello prop-rod.
  • Same goes for the trunk. Meet gooseneck hinges.
  • The dashboard probably follows the same persuasion as the Saturn Aura: the grain is uniform and nice and the upper dash is plush enough for dry-humping, but the lower dash feels like Tupperware.
  • Halogen bulbs in all exterior lighting.
  • Powertrains are one-generation old.
  • Read-outs are housed in a black hole. So-long ornate detailing.
  • Cloth is probably of a Jo-Ann caliber and the leather is little better than spandex. The stitching and patterns are taken from a few of Mr. Rodgers' sweaters.

Pretty much, right?

Actually the biggest reason it's so much cheaper now is:

Outgoing Passat = built in Germany

2012 Passat = built in Tennessee

Not my opinion, but straight from the mouth of a VW product planner friend of mine.

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Actually the biggest reason it's so much cheaper now is:

Outgoing Passat = built in Germany

2012 Passat = built in Tennessee

Not my opinion, but straight from the mouth of a VW product planner friend of mine.

saves on shipping, they should have just gotten an Amazon Prime account.

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saves on shipping, they should have just gotten an Amazon Prime account.

I'm surprised they didn't build it in Puebla, Mexico like the Jetta...cost of labor would be even cheaper than a non-union plant in TN, I would think.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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I'm surprised they didn't build it in Puebla, Mexico like the Jetta...cost of labor would be even cheaper than a non-union plant in TN, I would think.

Haven't they had quality issues with just about every vehicle that ever comes out of that plant? might want to start with a fresh sheet of paper AND I'm certain that Chattanooga is going to be used for more than just the Passat in the future.

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The interior looks well put together with some quality materials. It is sort of a boring interior, but it is probably functional, and easy to use, and it won't offend anyone. The exterior is very boring, as is the Jetta. These new VW's are just so boring and uninspiring, it is like they tried to be more bland than the Accord and Impala, and succeeded.

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I hope that US-made VWs have much higher quality than our current batch of VWs. My fiancee's father just brought ack a 2011 Jetta after two car through lug nuts, the second car had loose HVAC controls. VW may not be ready for prime-time. They better shape up!

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