Volkswagen Passat (B3)
The third generation Passat was introduced in March 1988 in Europe, 1989 in North America, and 1995 in South America. Its curvy looks were a contrast from the boxy appearance of its predecessor and owed much to the "jelly mould" style pioneered by Ford with the Sierra and Taurus. The lack of a grille made the car's front end styling reminiscent of older, rear-engined Volkswagens such as the 411, and also doubled as a modern styling trend. The styling was developed from the 1981 aerodynamic (cd 0.25) Auto 2000 concept car.
At the time it was the first Passat to be built on a Volkswagen-designed platform, rather than sharing one with an Audi saloon. The Passat B3 was designed by Volkswagen's design chief, Herbert Schäfer and,unlike equivalent Audi models, now featured a space-saving transversely mounted engine (a configuration from which future Passat models would retreat in 1996). A couple of weeks ahead of launch, press reports appeared that the forthcoming new Passat was known within the company as the first "true Hahn model" ("erster echter Hahn"), even though Carl Hahn junior had by this time already been the Volkswagen Group's chairman since 1982. The message, reflecting management priorities at the time, was that whereas recent new models from Volkswagen had unapologetically appeared to be rebadged and mildly rebodied Audis, with this model Volkswagen under Hahn now had the confidence to reassert a more distinctive identity for its cars, differentiating the Audi and Volkswagen brands more persuasively from one another in the process.
The car, although designated B3 in Volkswagen's platform nomenclature, was based largely on the A platform as used for the smaller Golf Mk2 model, but was stretched in all directions. Many components are shared directly between these vehicles. Only 4-door saloon and 5-door estate versions were available, without the fastback option of previous models. From this generation to present time, the 5-door hatchback version of the first and second generation models is no longer available. It was marketed under the Passat name in all markets; in North America, this was a first.
The fuel injected petrol engines gave better performance and refinement than the carburettor units previously used. They were mounted transversely, and the floorpan was engineered to accept Volkswagen's "Syncro" four-wheel drive system. Engine options were the 2.0 litre 16 valve engine (for North America only in the GL model), 1.8 litre 8 valve and 1.8 litre 16 valve engines (not available in North America; all CLs, GLs, and GLSs had the 2.0 16v), Volkswagen's new 2.8 litre VR6 engine (also used in the Golf and Corrado) in the GL/GT (Europe) and GLX/GLS (North America) models (introduced in 1991 in Europe and 1992 in North America), and the G60 engine (only available on the Syncro model in Canada for the North American market). The VR6 engine gave the top-of-the-range Passat a top speed of 224 kilometres per hour (139 mph). The 1.6 litre (not available in North America) and 1.9 litre diesel engines were also available as an option.
- Erich Böhme (managing editor) (15 February 1988). "Stolze Väter "Nun hat auch der amtierende VW-Chef Carl Hahn, 61, einen Kraftwagen hervorgebracht, der werksintern "erster echter Hahn" genannt wird. .....Mit dem ersten Auto, für das Hahn von der ersten Skizze an verantwortlich zeichnet, steuert VW sein Spitzenmodell technisch und stilistisch auf einen radikal neuen Kurs - erst die von Hahn freigegebene Neukonstruktion macht den Passat in dritter Generation zu einem wahren Wolfsburger..."". 7/1988. SPIEGEL-ONLINE. p. 203. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- "Elektronische Niveauregelung, Konstruktion und Funktion (113)" (PDF). V.A.G. Service. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
- "1992 Passat B3 self-levelling system". VW ETKA. Retrieved 2013-09-27.