Volkswagen has revealed the latest versions of the Passat sedan and Passat Variant wagon that the rest of the world enjoys. They represent the eighth generation of the Passat line, the B8, and make their official debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October. Although the cars won’t be sold in the U.S., they do provide clues as to what we can expect when our local version of the Passat, introduced for the 2012 model year, receives its mid-cycle update for 2016.

So what does this piece of forbidden fruit contain? The new Passat debuts with new engines, less weight and the latest assistance, infotainment and convenience systems. And for the first time, an electrified version is available, in this case a plug-in hybrid.

Underpinning the new Passat is VW’s flexible MQB platform. Engineers have worked to make the platform even lighter by incorporating high-strength, hot-formed steel and aluminum in certain areas. The car is 187 pounds lighter than the one it replaces, helping some variants improve their fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent. The overall size of the new Passat has shrunk a little, but interior space has actually improved: the automaker promises more leg- and head-room, as well as increased luggage space.

In the powertrain department, buyers have the choice of 10 different engines spanning both gasoline and diesel units. One of these is VW’s new twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, whose output is an impressive 236 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. This engine is offered exclusively with a new seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. For other models, a six-speed manual and front-wheel drive is standard. All versions are equipped with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode, the latter recuperating energy to power auxiliary systems.

One additional powertrain option is a new plug-in hybrid setup. The setup combines a 154-hp gasoline engine with an 80-kilowatt (107-hp) electric motor. Total system output is 207 horsepower and the electric-only range is approximately 31 miles.

2015 Volkswagen Passat (European-spec)

2015 Volkswagen Passat (European-spec)

Inside, the vehicle is fitted with the VW’s new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster already offered on the Lamborghini Huracán supercar. The vehicle is also available with a head-up display, an advanced infotainment system, a 360-degree camera monitoring system, and a new generation of VW’s Park Assist system. This newly developed Park Assist includes the option for the car to park itself forwards into perpendicular spaces so that the trunk is facing outwards. It also includes a world-first Trailer Assist, which provides assistance when reversing a vehicle with a trailer attached–without the need for any modification or adaptation of the trailer.

Other safety technology includes Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert; Traffic Jam Assist which makes stop-and-go driving more comfortable; Emergency Assist, which can potentially halt a vehicle when the driver is incapacitated; and the latest Front Assist system with City Emergency Braking, which optionally combines both radar and camera sensors to add pedestrian detection.


Follow Motor Authority on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.