Paul Horrell11 January 2011

Detroit 2011: US-spec Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen’s Passat goes up a size to accommodate well-upholstered American drivers

Detroit 2011: US-spec Volkswagen Passat

While Ford globalises, Volkswagen is localising. America swallows gazillions of big saloons every year, but VW's Passat was always a flop because it was too expensive and too small compared with the Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus. So VW has made a special Passat for the US and China that it reckons solves both issues.

The American Passat, which is saloon-only, has an all-new body, as opposed to the heavy facelift Europeans and Brits have just been handed. Almost all its parts are different too, and the critical thing is they're put together at a new factory in Tennessee, from parts made out of American steel, glass and plastic. This gives VW a huge currency advantage.

There are also a few signs that it's been designed cheaper. The finish isn't quite as lush as our Euro Passat - though it's not at all shabby - and there aren't so many high-tech options.

But most of all, there's room for five well-upholstered Americans in there.

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