Volkswagen have removed three higher-end variants of the midsize Passat from their Australian range, as of this month. The luxury-focussed Passat 140TDI Highline sedan and wagon, and the sporty Passat 206TSI R-Line sedan have all been removed from VW’s local lineup, with brand communications staff citing production constraints and range simplification reasons respectively.
The deletion of the Passat 206TSI R-Line sedan has been attributed mainly to the arrival of Volkswagen’s new flagship saloon, the Arteon, toward the end of 2017. The Arteon R-Line, a five-door liftback that sits above the Passat in the VW range, is exclusively available in Australia with the same 206kW/350Nm turbo four-cylinder petrol that also powers the high-end Passat 206TSI.
The Passat 206TSI R-Line wagon will continue to be sold in Australia.
This week’s changes to the Passat lineup see the range shrunk from ten options to seven, and limits diesel power to the two all-wheel-drive Passat Alltrack variants.
The Passat 206TSI has been offered in sedan and station wagon form factors, and the estate will continue to be sold despite the four-door’s removal. Those wanting a non-wagon 206TSI will now have to stump up for the $65,490 Arteon, a $7,000 jump over what the Passat sedan commanded. The Passat 206TSI wagon, meanwhile, is $60,490.
The Passat 206TSI R-Line sedan, which has been deleted to give the Arteon more room.
It was also noted that the R-Line’s luxury-focussed sibling in the Passat range, the diesel-only Highline 140TDI sedan and wagon, had also been removed from the Volkswagen Australia configurator as of today.
Kurt McGuiness, Volkswagen Australia’s public relations and brand experience manager, confirmed that the Highline twins had also been removed from the local lineup, citing “production constraint(s) as a result of the World Light Vehicles Test Procedure”, the new European emissions testing standard that rolled out this year. The Passat Highline exclusively used a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder.
The Passat Alltrack 140TDI is unaffected by the changes.
WLTP, as the new test is known, involves much more stringent emissions testing that aims to replicate real-world driving. Manufacturers are required to submit their current lineup to WLTP, which replaced the older, more lax NEDC emissions test. The more strict new regime has already claimed a number of scalps; BMW will cease production of the M3 sedan later this year, and Peugeot have paused production of the 308 GTi.
The effects of WLTP have been felt by Volkswagen in a number of areas. The carbon emission rating of the new Up! GTI, a sub-Polo hot hatch not sold in Australia, increased from 110g/km of CO2 to 127-129g/km of CO2 under the new regime. In countries that tax vehicles based on carbon emissions, significant increases in official emissions can make a car much more expensive to buy and own.
That said, the WLTP has not entirely blighted the 140TDI engine that powered the Passat Highline in Australia. The 140TDI continues to be a staple of Volkswagen Australia’s lineup and will continue to be offered in the Passat Alltrack AWD wagon and Tiguan Highline, as well as Skoda’s Kodiaq and Superb.
McGuiness added that Volkswagen “hope to have [the Passat Highline] available again at a later date.” Whether the Highline returns as a 140TDI turbo diesel, or (we hope) as a 162TSI turbo petrol is a question for later down the track.
Following these developments, the following vehicles now make up the 2018 Volkswagen Passat range in Australia:
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