Q - B6 Passat?
A - Yes. The Passat is what is commonly referred to as a B-class car in Europe and this is the sixth generation of VW's B-class car. Internally at VW the car is most referred to as the PQ46/B6 Passat.
Q - Does that mean it shares its platform with the new B6/B7 Audi A4?
A - No. Unlike the B5 Passat which shared most of its mechanicals with the Audi A4 and A6, the new B6 Passat shares most of its components with the new Golf V/Jetta V. The chassis itself is unique to the Passat, however its major components like suspension, engines, transmissions, HVAC system, etc., etc. are shared with the new Golf V and Jetta V.
Q - Does the B6 Passat have transverse engines like the Golf V and Jetta V?
A- Yes. Tthe new B6 Passat will utilize the same 200hp 16v 2.0l 4-cylinder turbo engine as the Golf V and Jetta V. There will also be a new 3.6l VR6 rated at 280hp and available in both FWD and AWD. Both will be transverse which also means the 4motion AWD system will switch to a Haldex coupling as opposed to a Torsen differential.
Q - Is the older Torsen-based AWD system better than the new Haldex AWD system?
A - You will see this topic very heavily debated from time to time in our forums. The simple answer for most applications is no. Torsen is a pure mechanical AWD system that, setup in most Audi and VW products, gives a 40/60 torque split front to rear. It operates in AWD all the time. Haldex on the other hand is a fully electonic clutch pack that operates in nearly 100% FWD mode till slip is detected and then locks to 50/50 front to rear torque split.
The reason VW and Audi have been utilizing the Haldex system in more applications is because Haldex is an electronic system and interfaces with the increasingly complex alphabet soup of safety systems on the newer cars like ABS, ASR, ESP and more. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get a fully mechanical system to play nice with all the various electronic systems trying to do their respective jobs.
Being electronic Haldex can react quicker to a slip condition than Torsen can. This reaction time is rather more sudden with the Haldex system whereas Torsen tends to be a bit more progressive in its transfer of power to the wheels that need it. In the real world most drivers won't notice much of a difference. From a manufacturers standpoint, Haldex has less driveline loss operating mostly in FWD and only goes into AWD mode when it is needed. It also has the ability to interface better with the vehicles various electronic systems. Torsen on the other hand is a bit more of a purist/performance choice as it operates in AWD all the time and can be rear-wheel biased if need be.
The distinct difference though is the progressive transfer nature of Torsen as the extra time it takes to route power to the front wheels in an oversteer condition takes slightly longer than Haldex and requires the driver to have a little more faith the system will in fact route power to the front wheels if they feather the throttle and hang in there. Haldex will transfer power to all wheels almost instantly when slip is detected and then gradually feeds power back to the front wheels as slip conditions lessen. Haldex can also be programmed specifically to given RPM's, yaw conditions, throttle inputs, etc., etc. So for instance if you floor the throttle off the line, the electronics instantly tell the Haldex coupling to lock because the throttle position rapidly went to full-throttle and the speed of the car was at 0 - thus avoiding the front wheels spinning needlessly and getting power to all wheels right away to maximize acceleration.
Overall they are two different systems and have different attributes. Both are quite capable in snow and slippery conditions and work seamlessly enough that most consumers won't notice the difference.
Q - So the B6 Passat Wagon will be a delayed introduction?
A - Yes. Orders can be placed NOW with am expected delivery of early 2006.
Q - What engines are offered?
A - For the U.S. market, the 16v 2.0l 4-cylinder turbo with 200hp and 207 lb-ft of torque from the Golf/GTI V/Jetta V as the new base engine. The six-cylinder for the European market will be the 3.2l VR6 but the U.S. and Canada will get an all-new 3.6l VR6 with 280hp. The existing 2.0l TDI should carry over until 2006 or so when new fuel regs go into affect.
Q - What will the transmission offerings be?
A - A six-speed manual transmission and a 6-speed tiptronic.
Q - What is the new suspension design?
A - The B6 models will have a completely revised MacPherson front suspension and a fully independent 4-link rear suspension. Steering will be an all-new electro-mechanical steering unit. Volkswagen hired away the suspension guru that did the Ford Focus and if the Golf V is any indication, the new Passat will handle infinitely better than the outgoing B5 Passat. Sounds like VW might have finally gotten this part right.