UPDATE 1/9/19: Volkswagen showed a bit more of the 2020 Passat on Twitter, giving a glimpse of its five-spoke wheel, Continental all-season tire, and wheel well. VW is also seemingly re-emphasizing its continued commitment to the sedan market. The updated Passat will officially make its debut next week at the Detroit auto show.
After letting us drive camouflaged prototypes of its new Passat sedan, Volkswagen has shown us the actual car ahead of its debut early next year. Unfortunately, we can’t share photos of it with you—yet. All we can show you are these manufacturer-provided sketches of the 2020 Passat, which, as you might expect of a designer’s artistic musings, aren’t wholly realistic.
The basic details are right, such as the headlight and grille designs, the thin taillights, and the elegantly structured roofline. Other aspects of these drawings are a bit fantastical. The production Passat’s wheels, for example, are about 50 percent smaller in relation to the body than those shown here, and the fenders don’t bulge out like a DTM racer’s. You can write off those quad exhaust outlets and gaping front intakes as pure fantasy, too; the intakes’ shapes carry over to the production model (at least the R-Line trim we saw), but they’re filled with dummy plastic mesh that is closed off.
Volkswagen has softened the outgoing Passat’s boxier elements, and the body sides are slightly less slablike than before. Overall, though, this 2020 iteration looks like its seven-year-old predecessor, if someone had asked the stylists to design it today. That reality matches up with the Passat’s hardware story: It uses the same platform, suspension design, engine, and transmission as before. As we found out after driving the prototypes, it is the same solid-driving if unexciting large sedan it has been for years.
Making up for the car’s evolutionary progression is a host of newly standard equipment. Base Passats will come standard with LED headlights, taillights, and running lights; 17-inch wheels; an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and forward-collision warning and blind-spot monitoring. Volkswagen promises that fancier gear such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a nicer audio system will be standard or available on lower trim levels than before. Full details, including pricing, final specifications, and fuel-economy estimates, are expected to land by the time the 2020 Passat is unveiled at the 2019 Detroit auto show in January.