Aside from a mid-cycle refresh, Volkswagen hasn't shown much love to the U.S.-market Passat. Now, with Dieselgate still in the news, the German automaker looks to reclaim lost ground with its enthusiastic customers who have been burned by the deluge of recalls and buybacks. One move is to, for the first time since the short-lived W-8 Passat from 2001-2004, add performance to its midsize sedan, which is previewed by the new Passat GT concept.
To give credence to the fancy new "GT" badge, VW stuffed a 3.6-liter VR6 engine under the hood. In the Passat GT, the VR6 puts down a respectable 280 hp, which is managed by VW's lightning-quick six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. No word on where this power is routed, but we'd imagine the Passat GT remains front-wheel drive.
Visually, the GT ropes some of the GTI's best features. A modified lower front bumper valence includes the hot hatch's signature strakes, complementing a new honeycomb grille insert. New 19-inch "Tornado" wheels fill the wheel arches, hiding lowering springs that drop the car by 0.6 inches and a set of red-painted brake calipers.
Inside, faux carbon fiber trim frames the door panel and instrument cluster, contrasting well with VW's ubiquitous glossy piano black trim on the center console.
For now, VW claims this is just a concept, but admits it has "production potential." We wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if the GT hits dealer lots in the very near future.