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Road Tests

Volkswagen Rolls Out Storming V6 Performance Passat

By Feann Torr - 21/Nov/2006

2007 Volkswagen Passat R36
2007 Volkswagen Passat R36

2007 Volkswagen Passat R36
The new Volkswagen Passat R36 is powered by a
V6 and races from zero to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds

2007 Volkswagen Passat R36
The new-look bucket seats have triangular side
bolsters and ribbed cushions for extra pleasure

2007 Volkswagen Passat R36
VW's modified 3.6-litre V6 should sound amazing
if the Golf R32's exhaust note is anything to go by

Wolfsburg, Germany — Just when we thought the onslaught of motor shows had come to an end for this year, the Auto China 2006 rolls around with a plethora of new cars from the Orient, and then there's the Los Angeles International Auto Show that begins on the 29th of November, which is set to be a hot bed of new product, and let's not forget the Essen Motor Show in Germany either. 

Indeed, the Essen motor show kicks off on November 30th and one of the stars of the show has been revealed in advance to add a bit of buzz to its unveiling. 

Yet methinks it may not have needed it...

We've already reviewed the 3.2-litre V6 Passat, and it's a sweet ride, with a strong engine and decent cornering, but if you want the pinnacle of performance in the new Passat range, the new R36 will be much to your liking, and as you can see from the photos it looks rather trendy in its newly designed get-up.

With a sharper, more aggressive look, a tweaked chassis and an engine with more beef than a home made steak and mushroom pie, this new vehicle could do wonders for the entire Passat range, taking it's place as the new 'halo' model.

As BMW has the 'M' division to craft its fastest cars, Mercedes-Benz has AMG to tune up its V8-powered cars, and Audi has it's Quattro team to modify it's all-paw performance cars, it seems as though Volkswagen's 'performance' moniker of  choice is now the 'R' brand.

First there was the Golf R32, which is a very nice and incredibly sonorous vehicle indeed, and now Volkswagen will unveil the Passat R36 at the 2006 Essen Motor Show.

As the second car to wear the 'R' badges, the Passat R36 will be offered in two body styles - sedan and wagon (estate) - and make no mistake, this new model will be a real rip-snorter. Volkswagen has taken no shortcuts with the R36, which is the fastest production Passat ever built thanks to its 0-100km/h sprint time of just 5.6 seconds. Not only is that quicker than the R32 Golf, but it comes achingly close to the sprint times of legendary performance vehicles like the Mitsubishi Evolution models and bests the Subaru WRX's standing start times.

Feisty? Without a doubt. Power for the new R36 comes from a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine. That is, no superchargers or turbochargers to boost overall torque and power levels - just pure high-revving goodness. The fettled 3.6-litre bent six pumps out a respectable 300hp, which is about 220kW of power. Volkswagen hasn't released exact details of the engine just yet (that's what the Essen Motor Show is for), but we do that the Passat R36 puts this surfeit of power to the ground with a 6-speed DSG, and it was only fitting to give the muscular Passat an AWD setup in order to maintain maximum cornering speeds and stability. 

Other upgrades to the standard Passat include bigger brakes, with larger discs and callipers making the grade, while other chassis tweaks have been made to the suspension rig, including revised damping and spring rates for a sportier ride and more grip during 'spirited' driving adventures.

On top of the tuned engine and chassis, Volkswagen has bestowed the Passat R36 with a new sports bodykit, which may increase it's aerodynamic efficiency, and gives the car a more assertive road presence. Like the Golf R36, the front end gets a much deeper apron, incorporating the increasingly familiar triple air dam treatment. Interestingly, and mirroring the Golf R32, the Passat R36 appears to have no fog lights (though the indicator clusters may contain driving lights of sorts).

Dropped side skirts give the vehicles flanks a meatier look, and a new rear apron incorporates a pair of bold chromium exhaust outlets, and the brake lights have also been tweaked slightly to provide a greater difference between the garden variety Passat models. The estate/wagon versions get a roof-mounted spoiler, while the sedan models get a discreet boot lid spoiler.

The rolling stock is comprised of 18-inch alloy wheels with a slightly different design to the Golf R32, and these multispoke rims are shod with 235/40 R18 rubber at all four corners, which should provide the new Passat R36 with high levels of grip.

As well as the chassis and powertrain improvements, Volkswagen has also paid a lot of attention to the interior of the powerful Passat R36, as the German automaker explains: "Gripping the driver and front seat passenger are a set of sculpted sports seats bearing the R36 logo. The dashboard is finished in brushed aluminium panels set into which are a set of unique dials joined by a sports steering wheel and bespoke ‘R’ polished pedals."

The upgraded bucket seats look like they've come straight out of a 1980s Lamborghini, with ribbed central cushions and stylised triangular side bolsters. They look to be very trendy pews that suit the car's other performance features, and Volkswagen explains that standard equipment on the new Passat R36 will include xenon headlights, dual zone electronic climate control, a heated windscreen and seats, six airbags, a CD stereo, ABS and ESP (electronic stabilisation programme). 

By far the most intriguing aspect of the new R36 has to be the mildly tuned 3.6-litre V6 and DSG combination, which gives the hunkered-down German car a stunning 5.6 seconds 0-100km/h sprint time. That's seriously quick for a car of this size, and is indicative of Volkswagen's 6-cylinder know-how. Top speed for both models is electronically restricted to 250km/h (155mph), and it should be mentioned that the estate model is a little slower when accelerating from standstill to 100km/h, taking 5.8 seconds.

The new model will be launched for sale in Europe in the first half of 2007, and considering how well Volkswagen's Golf R32 is currently selling in Australia, we can expect this second (and even more potent) 'R' model to arrive in Australia later in 2007.

Related articles:
- Volkswagen Passat 3.2: Road Test
- Volkswagen Golf GTI (DSG): Road Test
- 2007 Volkswagen Touareg 4x4

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