It’s no secret that Volkswagen is planning to drop the aged 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine that it currently uses to propel the standard versions of the Beetle, Golf, Jetta, and Passat. The question is: what will replace it? Rumor has it that a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is going to replace the grainy 5-cylinder. And if that’s the case, the Volkswagen Passat Performance Concept displayed at the 2013 North American International Auto Show might provide a clue to what’s headed for a VW engine bay near you.
If you’re looking at the Volkswagen Passat Performance Concept and you’re having trouble figuring out what’s different, you’re forgiven. The headlights are bi-xenon units with an Adaptive Front Lighting System, and the car is equipped with LED running lights and taillights. Dual exhaust outlets and a discreet lip spoiler hint at the car’s extra performance, while unique 19-inch split-spoke aluminum wheels complete the subtle modifications to the Passat Performance Concept.
Inside, this example of the Passat is equipped with a two-tone leather interior with a headliner. Volkswagen describes the cabin’s trim as “carbon-like.” Now, if this were a real concept car, and not something that is essentially ready to roll down an assembly line, that would be real carbon fiber, wouldn’t it?
Here’s where all the action is when it comes to the Passat Performance Concept. The car is equipped with a direct-injected, turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine making 250 horsepower.
Volkswagen doesn’t disclose a torque figure, but since the horsepower rating exceeds the current 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder installed in the Beetle Turbo, CC, Eos, GTI, Jetta GLI, and Tiguan by 50 ponies, it doesn’t take an engineering genius to figure out that the 1.8-liter turbo is tuned to deliver a fat wad of twist. And if previous VW turbo motors are any guide, that torque is made across most of the rev range. Yeeeee-ha!
In addition to the 1.8-liter turbo, the Passat Performance Concept is equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The sport sedan is, naturally, equipped with a sport suspension.
When the Passat Performance Concept goes from daydream to reality, and if the current Passat lineup is any indication, don’t expect anything fancy when it comes to features and technology. Today, the Passat offers nothing more exotic than passive entry with push-button ignition, a Fender premium audio system, Bluetooth streaming audio, a reversing camera system, and a touchscreen navigation system.
Volkswagen builds terrific turbocharged engines. Once they’re launched from the line, they feel far more powerful than their official ratings might suggest, whooshing from where the torque kicks in at less than 2,000 rpm all the way up to 6,000 rpm or so. Plus, they get terrific gas mileage. If it comes to pass that Volkswagen ditches the Passat’s 2.5-liter 5-cylinder, and even the 3.6-liter V-6, in favor of this new turbocharged 1.8-liter, that’s cause for celebration. Pass the bubbly.