Paris Show: 2011 VW Passat Sedan and Estate B7 or more like B6.75... [Updated]

[Fresh pics added] What can we expect from the crisp, facelifted B6 Passat? Well, for one thing, it's actually labeled a seventh-generation model even though it's clearly B6-derived. In its defense, VW says "every body panel apart from the roof is new".

Said new panels extend the car by 4 millimeters (4,769 mm for sedan, 4,771 mm Estate), while the width and height remain the same at 1,820 mm and 1,474 mm, respectively.

Up front, the nose gets a more attractive grille / headlight treatment and is more in-line with VW's current styling. On the outer edges of the new, chromey grille reside LED running lights. At the rear, the tail lights get chrome accents and blend nicely with the sharper lines of VW's family saloon.

Passengers get heated/cooled seats that can also provide massages if consumers are willing to go lux. In order to make the Passat more of a flagship along the lines of the Phaeton VW has added a few new touches: inside the revised dash there are new dials, trim and even an analogue clock (you stay classy, V-Dub). Other than that, the rest of the interior gets the usual minor updates.

At the bottom of the diesel engine pack is a BlueMotion 1.6-liter TDI which makes 105 horses; it also gets greener (or bluer) thanks to battery regeneration and a start/stop system. If equipped with this engine, the Passat can return up to 68.8 mpg ("a theoretical range of over 1,000 miles on a single tank") while emitting 109 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Above the 1.6 there are two 2.0-liter units making 140 and 170 horsepower.

The gasoline engine lineup includes a 1.4-liter TSI (122 hp), a 1.8-liter TSI (160 hp), a 2.0-liter TSI (210 hp), and the top-of-the-mountain 3.6-liter V6 (300 hp). Frankly, VW should get that 2.0T to put out a little more oomph, because the gasoline lineup is seriously unbalanced with a 90-horsepower gap between the high-output four-banger and the V6.

Transmissions will be clutch-run manuals and DSGs across the range, and an XDS electronic differential makes it first appearance on the Passat (300 ponies to the front wheels will do that).

Safety systems include a (hopefully better than Volvo) auto-brake system as part of the car's Automatic Distance Control which applies the brakes at 18 mph or below should you or a pedestrian be a little careless. And get this: "The system is also able to accelerate the vehicle automatically should it detect an imminent rear end collision providing the vehicle sees a clear space ahead. " There's also an optional "you're too tired to drive" warning system.

Deliveries should begin early 2011, while pricing is going to be announced in the next few months.

By Phil Alex


Paris: Lotus Shows off New Elan, Begs the Question: What will Happen to the Evora?

Next up on our Lotus debut circus is the Elan, a small 2-seater (with an optional 2+2 layout) sitting somewhere between the Evora and the Esprit. Looking very similar to the Esprit (and in the rest of the new Lotus coupes), the Elan gets its power from a high-output Toyota-sourced V6 and, also like its new big brother, optional KERS and hybrid systems. Scroll on down for all the Lotus-certified facts.

The big question here is what the Elan's task truly is. Could it be here to be a slightly different, higher-end Evora, or is it simply meant to replace it?

With that mid-mounted V6 and optional 2+2 layout it easily could be a replacement, but the 450 horsepower and £75,000 [equal to about US$119,000] starting price indicate the car is more of an addition to the lineup.

Though, by the time it comes out in the Fall of 2012, Lotus may have decided to ace the Evora in favor of attracting wealthier 2+2 buyers. We shall see.

Lotus CEO is extremely proud of the Elan, saying "The Elan will convert people to Lotus. I would challenge people not to become addicted to driving it. It will also go a long way towards dispelling the old misconceptions about this class, that in order to have high performance you must sacrifice usability – those days are gone." Sound like them's fighin' words. Porsche? Response (other than another 911)?

By Phil Alex