VW’s Passat might not be your first thought when it comes to sporty cars, but the automaker is aiming to change that with the 2018 Passat GT special model. Making its debut at the Detroit Auto Show 2018 next week, it’s the heart of the Passat GT where the biggest change takes place, with the introduction of a new engine.
That’s the 3.6-liter VR6, which manages 280 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 258 lb-ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm. It’s paired with a six-speed DSG automatic transmission, with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. VW can’t quite let go of the Passat’s mainstream appeal, mind, and is pointing out that the GT still gets 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
It’s not the only mechanical change. The suspension has been lowered to improve the car’s stance, and there’s now a sport exhaust. The styling is based on VW’s R-Line trim of the regular Passat, with standard LED headlamps and daytime running lights. The R-Line’s bumper is carried over, but the Passat GT throws in a honeycomb grille and a red accent line, which is meant to remind you of the Golf GTI.
The roof is finished in black, as are the mirror caps, and the window and door trim. Two-tone 19-inch “Tornado” wheels are standard, with red-painted brake calipers. The rear has a black spoiler and tinted LED taillamps, together with black trim on the bumper and a double exhaust with VW’s acoustic package.
As for the cabin, there’s both styling and tech upgrades. The center console is piano black, as is the vent trim, and there are carbon fiber optic trim pieces. Black leatherette is used on the seats, with gray inserts and contrast stitching. The wheel gets real leather, and the front seats are both heated, as are the side mirrors. Dual-zone climate control and an 8-way power driver’s seat are also included.
In the dashboard, there’s a 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink support. Two USB ports are standard – one up front, and one at the rear – and there’s SiriusXM satellite radio, too.
All in all, it’s a balance of performance, style, and accessible pricing. Volkswagen says the 2018 Passat GT should begin showing up at dealerships in Q2 of this year, with pricing kicking off at $29,090 (plus $850 destination).