Volkswagen’s newest concept car is a Passat injected with GTI genes

Volkswagen has introduced a new concept that could preview a spicier, performance-oriented version of the Passat.

The GT Concept is essentially a Passat with GTI genes. It’s based on the U.S.-spec model that’s built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and it was developed specifically for the American market by the carmaker’s North American division. Visually, the hot-rodded Passat features a white paint job with a contrasting black roof, black mirror caps, a trunk-mounted spoiler, and red accents on the grille that echo the iconic GTI.

The sporty treatment continues inside with carbon fiber-look trim, more red accents, and a black headliner. All told, the concept looks more muscular than even the Passat R-Line, which is currently billed as the sport-focused member of the lineup.

Volkswagen was on the fence about which engine the GT Concept should receive. Executives ultimately chose the 3.6-liter VR6, which churns out a generous 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The six-cylinder spins the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, though performance figures haven’t been announced yet. However, the German brand promises the GT Concept handles better than a standard Passat because it features a lower, sport-tuned suspension.

Executives warn that the sportier Passat previewed by the GT Concept hasn’t been given the green light for production yet. The good news is that, if it’s approved, it could make the transition from concept to production car fairly quickly because it’s largely built with off-the-shelf components.

Looking back

This isn’t the first time that Volkswagen has evaluated ways to put the Passat on steroids. In 1977, engineers stuffed a 110-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder pulled out of an Audi 80 GTE into the engine bay of a first-generation Passat. They also installed beefier brakes on both axles, wider tires, and a sporty-looking body kit.

Called Passat GTI, the two-door prototype was briefly tested on the roads around Wolfsburg, Germany, but it was never given the green light for production. Toni Schmücker, Volkswagen’s head honcho at the time, firmly believed the words “performance” and “Passat” were mutually exclusive, much to the dismay of the engineers working on the project.

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