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New VW Passat Pushes High Tech, Led By Head-Up Display

“Trailer Assist helps drivers park with a horse-box or luggage module”

POTSDAM, Germany – Volkswagen’s big new Passat will, naturally, offer a plug-in hybrid option, but the array of high technology options available suggests mass market cars will soon be sporting gizmos which used only to be found on premium BMWs, Mercedes and Audis.

One new idea that is unique to the Passat, for the time being at least, is Trailer Assist, which helps drivers park with an attached horse-box or luggage module. For fighter-pilot fantasists, there’s a head-up display. There are interactive digital instruments, stop-start of course, LED rear-lights, automatic emergency braking, and you can opt for technology which allows a degree of computerised control of the car in traffic.

Driving in reverse with a trailer is a challenge for even the most experienced drivers, but the VW system doesn’t sound as though it’s all that automated.

“All the driver needs to do is stop at a suitable spot and engage reverse gear. The system is activated by pushing a button,” says VW.

But then it gets more complicated as the driver has to use the rear view camera adjustment button like a little joy-stick to guide the reversing movements, all the while following the display on the dashboard. The driver also operates the accelerator and brakes.

More straightforward is the Head-up Display, a first for the VW brand, which directs speed or navigation instructions directly into the driver’s eye line. The interactive digital display allows the driver to choose the style in which data is presented with either two or three dimensions. As well as LED headlights, the LED rear-lights are designed to switch from a horizontal presentation to vertical, to underline the fact that braking is taking place. This should help safety. The Passat has computer-controlled slow speed braking to avert crashes in traffic.

“Traffic Assist” takes control of the car in stop-start traffic at speeds up to 60 km/h. The car automatically steers, accelerates and brakes, but drivers must keep their hands lightly on the wheel, so they can intervene if necessary. That should make heavy traffic less stressful, VW claims. There is a string of other technology too, including powerful infotainment and mobile online stuff, and assistance to look around corners and detect pedestrians who might be in harm’s way.

And then there is the plug-in hybrid option, which combines a 154 hp gasoline engine and an 80 kw electric motor. Battery-only range is claimed as 50 kms (31 miles).

The new, Passat which is nearly 190 lbs lighter than the old one, will be available in Europe with a choice of 10 gasoline and diesel engines, plus the plug-in hybrid, ranging from a 1.4 liter, 148 hp gasoline motor to a 2.0 liter 237 hp diesel. VW says fuel economy is improved by up to 20 per cent over the outgoing model.

The new Passat’s public premiere takes place at the Paris Motor Show in October and sales should start early next year. This is the eighth-generation Passat, which over the past 41 years has racked up over 23 million sales worldwide. The price is likely to start at around 26,000 euros ($35,350) after taxes.

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