Volkswagen has reportedly made an unexpected U-turn on its initial decision to offer the next generation Passat solely as an estate.
According to Britain’s Auto Express, the all-new Passat, due in 2023, will follow the same design principle as sister brand Skoda’s Superb in offering the estate alongside a hatchback with the traditional three-box sedan bowing out completely.
Set to be build alongside and on the same MQB platform as the Superb at the Bratislava Plant in Slovakia where production of the Touareg, Audi Q7 and Q8 takes place, the hatchback will see the return of a body style the Passat last offered as an option with the second generation made between 1981 and 1985.
Whereas the estate counts for the majority of Passat sales in Europe with 99 459 units moved last year compared to the sedan’s 16 895, the inclusion of a hatch will not only see the Passat rival the Superb, but also the Opel Insignia and to an extent, the Arteon as the only other hatch-styled sedans currently offered on the Old Continent.
While set to be longer and wider than the current Passat, the British publication reports that a TDI engine will continue to be part of the line-up. More emphasis will however be placed on the TSI petrol units that will come with the option of mild-hybrid assistance and feature the eTSI designation as on the Golf.
A plug-in hybrid will also be available along with a performance derivative set to once again wear the GTE designation. Not expected though is an all-electric Passat as it would clash with the incoming ID.5, a reported coupe-inspired model along the line of the Arteon but built on the dedicated MEB platform.
The retention of the Passat as all but an estate is unlikely to result in it returning to South Africa where sales ended two years ago as a result of declining numbers attributed to the popularity of SUVs compared to sedans.