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Volkswagen Passat: The US Passat aka VW NMS

Mon, 10 Jan 2011

The US VW Passat - bigger and cheaper

Volkswagen has been trailing something called the VW NMS in the US. What is it? It’s the VW New Mid-Size Sedan. Which sounds about as exciting as the name. Its purpose is to replace the old, slow selling Passat. So Volkswagen has gone and called it…Volkswagen Passat. Probably the only name they could have used that is worse than VW NMS.

So why the mystery? After all, the 2011Volkswagen Passat has already been revealed at the Paris Motor Show in September last year. Turns out that unlike every other car maker on the planet, Volkswagen still believes the US car market needs product all its own. So the US gets a different car to the Euro Passat. Odd.

It’s as if VW think Americans too stupid to ‘Get’ the Euro Passat. What they seem to think Americans want is something cheaper, bigger and less well equipped. So that’s what they’ve given them Yankee buyers – a bloated, dumbed-down Passat.

Which is what VW did with the 2011 Jetta for the US (which they trailed as the VW NCC – we should have seen the clue). They dumbed it down with a cheap interior and low-rent suspension. Yes, they charged less, but is that the point? Seems not to us, or to the friends and contacts we have in the US who are less than impressed with the ‘Pauper’s Jetta’. I’m sure we’ll soon hear what they think of the US Passat.

So apart from being low-rent and bigger, what does the US Passat offer the US buyer? Well, a starting price under $20,000 – $7k less than the old Passat. A choice of three engines – a 2.5-litre 5-pot with170 hp and 177 lb/ft. of torque, a 2-litre diesel four-pot, and the 3.6-litre VR6 with 280 hp and 258 lb/ft. Entry-level will be the 2.5 litre 5-pot which will come with a six-speed manual, although VW expect most buyers to opt for a six-speed auto – slush-box or DSG depending on model.

Maybe VW are right. Maybe the way to the average US car buyer’s heart is cheap and cheerful and big enough to take a body used to supersized snacks. But is that the market VW wants? We had VW down as more M&S than Woolies. More Waitrose than Lidl. More Mylene Klass than Kerry Katona.

Maybe we just woke up grumpy.

By Cars UK