Volkswagen provides first technical details of Gen 8 Passat, including plug-in hybrid drive; multiple new assistance systems
|Among the features of the coming eighth-generation Passat is a lighter weight design and a new 2.0L bi-turbo diesel. A plug-in hybrid drivetrain will be on offer, also, making Passat Volkswagen’s third model with a PHEV option. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen has revealed the first technical details of the all-new Passat sedan and wagon—including the plug-in hybrid drive option—ahead of the cars’ unveiling in July, their public premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October, and their arrival in the first tranche of world markets in the fourth quarter. The eighth-generation Passat leverages advanced materials—including high-strength, hot-formed steel and aluminium in certain areas—to drop up to 85 kg (187 lbs) compared to its predecessor, helping it to claim expected fuel-efficiency improvements of up to 20%.
A highlight of the new MQB-based Passat’s range of engines is a high-performance, four-cylinder, 2.0-liter, bi-turbo diesel delivering 240 PS (237 hp, 177 kW) and 500 N·m (369 lb-ft) from 1,750 rpm. This engine will be available only with a new seven-speed DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid model will also be offered, with potential to travel 31 miles (50 km) powered by a 9.9 kWh battery pack alone power alone, and with a potential combined maximum range of around 600 miles (966 km).
Volkswagen introduced the first generation of the Passat 41 years ago. Since that time, more than 22 million Passat units have been sold across the globe. Numerous technologies of the newest Passat are not only firsts for this model series; they are also new to the brand’s entire vehicle range. They include systems such as Active Info display (a completely digital instrument cluster); extendable head-up display; new Rear Seat Entertainment; Front Assist with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring; Emergency Assist (vehicle stops in emergency); Trailer Assist (assisted maneuvering with a trailer); and Traffic Jam Assist.
Plug-in hybrid. The new Passat is the third plug-in hybrid from Volkswagen, after the XL1 and Golf GTE. Its hybrid drive system consists of a 115 kW / 156 PS gasoline direct-injection engine with turbocharging (1.4 TSI) and an electric motor with an output of 80 kW / 109 PS. The two drive sources fuse to provide a drive system output of 155 kW / 211 PS, with maximum torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). The electric motor is supplied via an externally chargeable high-voltage 9.9 kWh lithium-ion battery.
Similar to the top values attained by the Golf GTE (1.5 l/100 km in the NEDC and 35 g CO2/km), the Passat as a plug-in hybrid can be expected to have a very low combined fuel consumption figure that goes along with low CO2 emissions. Official fuel consumption figures will be announced with homologation (2015).
The battery pack, which is equipped with a liquid cooling system, is charged via a charging socket next to the VW logo on the radiator grille.
The Passat Hybrid has a top speed of more than 210 km/h (130 mph) and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 8 seconds.
2.0 TDI bi-turbo. The new Passat will be launched with a range of engine power from 88 kW / 120 PS to 206 kW / 280 PS. A highlight here is the most powerful four-cylinder diesel injection engine ever offered by Volkswagen: the newly developed 2.0 liter bi-turbo engine delivering 176 kW / 240 PS and 500 N·m from as low as 1,750 rpm. Despite its output, the 2.0 TDI consumes, for example in the Passat sedan, just over 5 l/100 km (47 mpg).
The starting point for the new engine is the EA288 series engines that are based on the modular diesel component system (MDB). (Earlier post.) In order to achieve the high specific output of 120 PS per liter of cubic capacity, a compact bi-turbo module with a high-pressure and low-pressure turbine was developed for the engine. The module enables turbo boost levels of up to 3.8 bar.
The cylinder crankcase, crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons were adapted to the high maximum combustion pressure of 200 bar. In addition a high-performance cylinder head is also being used for the first time.
Another new feature is the newly developed injection system with piezo injectors. This fuel injection system enables injection pressures of up to 2,500 bar.
Positioning the oxidation catalytic converter, diesel particulate filter and SCR system (selective catalytic reduction using reducing agent AdBlue) close to the engine makes the emission control components react especially quickly. The new 2.0 TDI complies with the Euro 6 exhaust gas standard.
In order to optimize comfort at low engine speeds, a newly developed centrifugal pendulum absorber is being used in the gearbox of the 2.0 TDI. This enables the gear shift points to be lowered still further, lowering the rev levels, which contributes to the excellent fuel consumption figures of the TDI.
Weight reduction. Despite improved rigidity and crash safety new Passat is up to 85 kg lighter than the previous model. The new Passat was created based on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB). Areas of interest are:
Running gear: -9 kg (20 lbs). The weight of the running gear was reduced by such measures as the use of lightweight metals. The rear axle, for example, weighs 4.7 kg less and the steering system 2.2 kg less. Overall, the running gear was made up to 9 kg lighter.
Engines. -40 kg (88 lbs). The turbocharged four-cylinder engines used in the Passat weight significantly less. Total weight savings here are up to 40 kg.
Electrical: -3 kg (6.6 lbs). Aluminum makes the electrical components, electronics and thereby the overall electrical system lighter in weight. Wire gauges were also optimized. Overall, up to 3 kg was saved, even in the base version.
Body and equipment: -33 kg (73 lbs). Progressive steel construction with ultra-high strength and hot-formed steels make the car body lighter. For the first time in a Passat, aluminum was also used in the body structure. Advanced materials and a new air conditioner lead to weight savings in the equipment area as well. In total, the entire superstructure was made up to 33 kg lighter.
Improved properties. Despite weight reductions, improvements were made in body rigidity (gain of 2,000 N·m/° to 25,000 N·m/° in the wagon) and 30,000 N·m/° in the sedan). The maximum trailer load was increased by up to 400 kg.
Despite exterior dimensions that are actually marginally smaller than those of the previous Passat, interior space is improved, with more leg- and head-room, as well as increased luggage space.
Active Info Display. With the new Passat, Volkswagen is launching an instrument cluster that is built as a display with interactive representation of information: the Active Info Display.
All instruments were implemented virtually by software; only safety-related indicator lights are executed in hardware. The 12.3-inch display (1,440 x 540 pixels) delivers information in 2D and 3D; 12.3 inches is equivalent to a screen diagonal of 312 mm.
The display is interactive. As an example, in Navigation mode, the speedometer and tachometer are relocated to the sides to make more room for the map. Depending on needs, information such as driving, navigation and assistance functions may be integrated into the graphic surfaces of the speedometer and tachometer.
The Active Info Display can be customized according to the car model and equipment. In the new Passat with a plug-in hybrid drive, for example, the tachometer is programmed to become a Powermeter.
Volkswagen will offer the Active Info Display as an alternative to analogue instruments as either a standard or optional feature.
The new Passat is also the first Volkswagen to also be equipped with a head-up display. It projects key information such as vehicle speed or navigation pictograms directly into the primary visual field of the driver.
The head-up display of the Passat is a “combined solution”: the data is projected onto an extendable glass panel in front of the windshield. When it is not being used, the display panel is protected by lowering it into the dashboard, and the opening has a flush closure.
The glass screen is designed as a high-resolution color display with a color depth of 18 bits. This produces a brilliant image with rich contrasts. Another advantage of the display that is extendable and not integrated in the windshield: if the windshield needs to be replaced (e.g. due to a stone impact), there is no need to replace it with a special and therefore expensive windshield; it is also not necessary to perform a complicated recalibration of the system.
From the driver’s perspective, the projected data appears to be located two meters in front of the Passat.
Sunlight does not affect the display. The brightness of the display is automatically adapted to the ambient light. The maximum display luminance is 12,000 cd/m2 which makes it easy to read the information even in conditions of direct sunlight.
The head-up display is activated via a separate control next to the rotary light switch. From the infotainment system menu, the driver can decide which information should be displayed: momentary speed, legal speed limit, navigation instructions, information on assistance systems and warnings.
Assistance and convenience systems. The camera-based surroundings visualization system Area View made its world premiere in the Touareg in 2010. The system was developed to enable a 360-degree overview of the close surroundings and traffic situation. The system was significantly developed further for the new Passat.
Volkswagen is introducing the new generation of Area View in the Passat. The new system offers extended functionality, better camera resolution, obstacle detection and new 3D bird’s-eye-view perspectives.
Area View utilises four cameras located in the trunk lid (1), door mirrors (2) and radiator grille (1). With an aperture angle of more than 180 degrees per camera, Area View acquires the entire environment around the car and projects it onto the infotainment system screen. From the Display menu, the driver can select the camera views (front, rear, side or bird’s-eye view), with either a full or split screen.
In conjunction with the Discover Pro radio-navigation system, the control unit takes the four camera images and generates an overall view of the Passat and its surroundings to create a 3D bird’s-eye view. In contrast to the normal bird’s-eye perspective, this view projects the view of the surroundings onto a hemisphere.
The system permits a total of 17 different virtual camera positions. They are arranged so that all conceivable perspectives can be displayed around the vehicle.
New in Area View is obstacle detection that is based on image processing algorithms. As a supplement to the normal ultrasonic parking sensors and Rear Traffic Alert, the system uses the cameras to detect obstacles that are located beyond the ranges acquired by the sensors.
When providing assistance in parking, the warning strategy is similar to that of the ultrasonic parking sensors. Along with displaying the obstacles and the available spaces, Area View visualizes the vehicle based on the steering wheel input when parking in a selected space.
Assistance in slow driving on unpaved roads and off-road is provided by the “Offroad” display of the front camera. It clearly depicts obstacles on the driving path—for example, large rocks, tree stumps and holes.
The new Passat will also be equipped with the third generation of Park Assist. Park Assist makes it possible to park in any parking space that is parallel or perpendicular to the roadway semi-automatically; in addition, the system can exit from parallel parking spaces. In the case of perpendicular parking spaces, not only is parking in reverse supported; it is also possible to park in a forward direction semi-automatically.
The first generation of Park Assist made its debut in 2007; this assistant aided automatic steering in reverse into parking spaces parallel to the roadway. The second generation of Park Assist, presented in 2010, added automatic steering for reverse parking into spaces perpendicular to the roadway; parallel parking spaces could also be smaller now (80 cm plus the car length sufficed). In addition, automatic exiting from parallel parking spaces was now also possible.
The newly developed third generation of Park Assist adds the new feature of semi-automatic forward parking into spaces perpendicular to the road.
The wide variety of functions of Park Assist 3 supports the driver in difficult traffic situations, making parking faster and, for less experienced drivers, simpler. After pressing the Park Assist button, the driver only needs to activate the accelerator pedal and brake (together with the clutch for a manual gearbox) as Park Assist automatically steers the Passat into the parking space.
The system independently detects the type of parking space and initiates the necessary manoeuvre; at the same time, the driver is informed of the operation and given instructions via the multifunction display.
The driver can make a manual selection of the desired parking space from the parking spaces that were automatically detected.
The basic functions of Park Assist were further improved by the use of what is known as a surroundings map. The system has sensors in all four wheels that detect turning direction; this enables precise locating of the Passat so that it can be parked more precisely than ever.
The new Passat will also offer a novel Trailer Assist function. Reverse driving with a trailer is a challenge even for experienced drivers. Volkswagen decided to be the world’s first carmaker to offer an assistance system that makes maneuvering with a trailer easier—Trailer Assist.
Trailer Assist automatically controls lateral guidance of the car and trailer combination. To maneuver a trailer in reverse from the roadway into a driveway, the driver stops at a suitable point and engages reverse gear. The system is activated by pushing a button.
The current and possible steering angles are visualized in the instrument cluster. This is done based on image processing algorithms that evaluate the data from the rear view camera that observes the angle of the trailer in relation to the vehicle.
The trailer angle that is optically acquired is used to calculate the steering wheel angle independent of any special types of trailers or towbars.
The driver can set the desired driving direction of the vehicle-trailer combination fully variably using the mirror adjustment, which in this case functions as a joystick.
The Passat takes the driver’s steering commands via mirror adjustment switch and steers the vehicle; all the driver needs to operate are the brake and accelerator pedals. The Passat is turned by automatic control of the electro-mechanical servo steering system. It is always possible to make a correction by mirror adjustment.
Trailer Assist can be deactivated by pressing the activation button again or by making a manual steering intervention. In this case, the vehicle-trailer is braked to a standstill.
Trailer Assist automatically brakes if the driver exceeds a defined vehicle speed.
Volkswagen has also extended the functional range of its Side Assist driver assistance system by adding the new Rear Traffic Alert. The system can contribute to avoiding serious accidents—in two situations in particular. First, on the highway, because it detects both fast overtaking vehicles and slow ones in the blind spot, warns the driver and thereby makes overtaking safer. Second, when reversing out of a parking space, because the sensors detect vehicles approaching from the side that are not visible to the driver.
Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert operates with a new generation of radar sensors. Side Assist, which automatically activates starting at a speed of 10 km/h, uses two radar sensors (integrated in the rear bumper) to monitor the surroundings at a range of up to 70 meters (230 feet) behind the Passat.
Side Assist alerts the driver to vehicles located alongside the Passat or approaching from the rear by lighting an LED in the door mirror housing. When the driver activates the turn indicator in the direction of a detected vehicle, the Side Assist indicator flashes as the next warning stage, which draws the driver’s attention to the mirror.
If, in addition to Side Assist, the camera-based Lane Assist system is also installed, and a steering input is made in the direction of a hazard, the warning stage is activated (even if no turn indicator was set), and if the driver begins to change lanes, the vehicle actively countersteers. Of course, the driver retains control over the assistance system in this case too; the driver can override the system by an active steering intervention.
Rear Traffic Alert detects vehicles that are approaching from the side when the driver is reversing out of parking spaces that are perpendicular to the roadway. The radar-based sensor module of Rear Traffic Alert detects objects up to 50 meters (164 feet) away. Rear Traffic Alert is activated by engaging reverse gear or by the optional Park Distance Control (PDC) when starting off.
If a collision is imminent, Rear Traffic Alert first outputs a visual warning, then an acoustic one. If the driver does not react appropriately to the situation and there is an immediate risk of a collision, Rear Traffic Alert automatically initiates a braking intervention that can reduce the severity of the accident.
Volkswagen is also introducing Traffic Jam Assist and Emergency Assist in the Passat as a world premiere. Volkswagen developed Traffic Jam Assist based on Lane Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). The system makes traffic jams or stop-and-go driving much more comfortable. In addition, Volkswagen conceptualized the new Emergency Assist which becomes active if the driver stops driving altogether.
The basis for Traffic Jam Assist is Lane Assist whose functionality of adaptive lane guidance is also available at speeds below 60 km/h (37 mph). Here, the system not only countersteers to make corrections when the car leaves the lane; but in addition the active adaptive lane guidance of Lane Assist keeps the Passat in the middle of the driving lane.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is another assistance system which is incorporated in Traffic Jam Assist. With ACC, braking and accelerating is automatic even in the stop-and-go speed range. ACC and Lane Assist merge into Traffic Jam Assist: the system enables assisted lateral and longitudinal guidance. The car steers, accelerates and brakes automatically, but only under the condition that the driver’s hands are on the steering wheel and participating in steering, so that the driver can intervene at any time.
If the driver shows no steering activity or just a little, Traffic Jam Assist notices this via Lane Assist. In this case, the system gives an acoustic warning along with a message in the multifunction display requesting that the driver take over control of the car.
If the driver does not react to this request, an extended request to take control of the new Passat is made with a brief but very noticeable brake jolt. This reminds the inattentive or tired driver to use the steering wheel actively.
If the driver suddenly becomes incapable of driving and does not show any steering activity after the extended request to take control, Emergency Assist steps into action.
Emergency Assist represents an advanced development of Lane Assist, and if necessary it takes over control of the vehicle until it comes to a stop. Due to the lack of steering activity and other parameters, the system concludes that the driver is inactive. In this case, the car is kept in its own lane. At the same time, the hazard flasher light is activated, and slow braking is initiated. The deceleration remains constant until the Passat is stationary. To prevent an unintentional frontal collision with traffic ahead if at all possible, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is also activated (if fitted).
Front Assist is a system for warning and automatically braking in case of an imminent collision. One of the system components of Front Assist is City Emergency Braking. While it is Front Assist that warns drivers against getting too close to the vehicle in front and of any potential collision at higher speeds, City Emergency Braking performs this role in slower urban traffic. Up until now, the City Emergency Braking system exclusively detected vehicles. In the new Passat the enhanced system now reacts for the first time to pedestrians.
Front Assist uses a radar sensor integrated in the front of the car to monitor continuously the distance to the traffic ahead. Front Assist assists the driver in critical situations by preconditioning the brake system and alerting the driver to any required reactions through visual and audible warnings, and in a second stage by a brief warning jolt.
If the driver fails to brake hard enough, Front Assist generates sufficient braking force to avoid a collision. If the driver fails to react at all, Front Assist automatically slows the vehicle down. One component of the Front Assist system is the City Emergency Braking function.
City Emergency Braking is an extension of the Front Assist system. Using a radar sensor, it monitors—up to a speed of 65 km/h (40 mph)—the area in front of the Passat. Now the enhanced City Emergency Braking function combines the radar with the front camera of the Passat so that it can detect, in addition to vehicles, any pedestrians at the edge of the road or on the carriageway.
If City Emergency Braking detects a risk of the Passat potentially colliding with a pedestrian, it initially alerts the driver with a visual and audible warning and then with a jolt of the brake. If the driver fails to react to these warnings, the system automatically triggers emergency braking.
From 2016, City Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring will be taken into consideration in Euro NCAP’s star rating system.
The newest generation Passat will also feature progressive steering for the first time. The progressive steering system in the new Passat is being offered in combination with a sports chassis or DCC adaptive chassis control.
With progressive steering, it takes 2.1 turns of the wheel to reach the end stop, while without this option it takes 2.75 turns.
Conventional steering systems operate with a constant gear ratio. The new steering system, meanwhile, operates with a progressive steering gear ratio. Technically, progressive steering differs from the basic steering system primarily by the rack's variable tooth spacing and a more powerful electric motor.
Unlike with constant steering ratios, which by necessity always represent a compromise between dynamic performance and comfort, here the steering rack’s toothing is significantly modified by the steering stroke.
Even at high speeds, the system enables a more precise and relaxed style of driving in the mid-range of steering angles.
On winding country roads and when turning at junctions, drivers will notice enhanced dynamic performance thanks to the more direct layout. At low speeds, for example in the city or when parking, the Passat is appreciably easier to handle thanks to the reduced need to turn the wheel.