Volkswagen has big plans in store for next week's Detroit Auto Show, where media preview days begin Monday.

One of several cars it will show is the Volkswagen Passat Performance Concept, a "sneak peek" of a new, sportier model of its U.S.-built Passat mid-size sedan with an all-new 250-horsepower engine under the hood.

The new engine is the 1.8-liter direct-injected and turbocharged TSI four-cylinder, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It's already used in European and Asian VWs, but this is the first time it's been shown in a production model in the States.

Getting that output from a four-cylinder engine smaller than 2.0 liters should give the Passat Performance model--or its production equivalent--some quite respectable fuel economy too. Not as high as the Passat TDI diesel, but pretty good for the most powerful model in the range.

To denote the Passat Performance Concept's sportier credentials, it is fitted with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension with lower ride height, and electro-mechanical steering.

To underscore its subtle but aggressive appearance, the hot-rod Passat sports a dual exhaust and bi-xenon headlights, including what VW calls an Advanced Front Lighting System, along with LED tail lights.

Inside, the dashboard has "carbon-like touches," which Volkswagen says match the "carbon-style inserts" in the two-tone leather seats. There are also carbon accents on the covers for the exterior door mirrors.

In its first full year on the market, Volkswagen sold 117,000 new Passats, more than ever before. The mid-size sedan, built in a brand-new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has outsold all preceding generations of Passat, which were designed and built in Europe.

Volkswagen Passat Performance Concept

Volkswagen Passat Performance Concept