Picking the right color can make all the difference to a car’s design. The wrong color can leave the sheetmetal looking like a boring shapeless mass, but the right one can accentuate every subtle styling detail.
How thoughtful then of Volkswagen’s test department to swap out its black-painted prototypes of the upcoming 2023 Passat wagon for this bright silver one that gives us a much better idea of what the finished car will look like when it lands in European showrooms next year.
And this is very much a European car. The American-market Passat, which had already split from its old-country namesake to become a bespoke North American design several years ago, was killed off earlier this year, a casualty of the move to EVs and electric vehicles.
Traditional cars like the Passat still have a small following in Europe, particularly among drivers who get a car as part of their employment package, and the Variant or wagon body style is popular. It certainly will be in this new Passat lineup because Volkswagen is killing off the four-door sedan idea and will only sell the wagon, though some sources claim a liftback might also be offered. Closely related to the next-generation Skoda Superb, the Passat will be built on VW’s MQB Evo platform.
Related: Europe’s 2023 VW Passat Gets Golf-Style Tablet Touchscreen And Column-Mounted Shift Lever
This car’s silver paint clearly highlights the flat wheelarch lips and the strong swage line that is heavily reminiscent of the line found on BMW’s 3-Series Touring wagon. There’s even a hint of a BMW-style Hofmeister kink in the D-pillar and the shape of the rear hatch and the placement of the badge has a definite BMW look about it – though to be fair to Volkswagen, these features were already visible on the outgoing Passat.
Compared with the previous black prototypes, this silver one also gives us a better view of the contouring of the lower bumpers, as well as the cutout in the hood that’s necessary to clear the VW roundel. A sneaky disguise on the grille and lower light units does its best to convince us we’re looking at last year’s car, but we’re guessing that those grille bars will be absent from the finished design, which will have a narrower opening similar to the one on the Mk8 Golf. What will be present is a familiar mix of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains, plus a more modern touchscreen, again like the one fitted to the Golf. But unlike the Golf, the Passat gets a column-mounted shift lever for its transmission.