LAST week, the Volkswagen Passat broke the 30-million-model mark for production at the brand’s plant at Emden, Germany, with the result that the bestseller set a new record in its segment: no other mid-range model and no other business vehicle globally has been sold more often than the Passat.

The 30 millionth vehicle – a Passat GTE Variant with a plug-in hybrid drive decked out in Pyrite Silver Metallic – is already one of the first models in a new evolutionary stage to feature an extensive technical update with European presales to begin in May.

Volkswagen offers the Passat in various independent versions, depending on the continent. The eighth generation of the European model will be launched early this year as a saloon and a variant with a new technical set-up. Thanks to the Travel Assist system – a new IQ.Drive system, to use the Volkswagen name for intelligent drive systems – the Passat is the first Volkswagen vehicle that can be partially driven with assisted driving if desired, and at any speed (0 to 210 km/h).

The new model also includes features such as interactive IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights and the MIB3 modular infotainment module applications with constant online access.

The enhanced Passat GTE will also be of particular importance within the model range as, just like the 30 millionth vehicle, the plug-in hybrid models to come will offer significantly more electrical range in the future.

This is currently at up to 55km measured using the new WLTP cycle, which corresponds to around 70 km2 according to the NEDC. The new Passat GTE (160 kW/218 PS system output) already achieves the limits in the Euro 6d emissions standard, which will apply to new vehicles from 2021.

Volkswagen launched production of the first Passat models in its Wolfsburg plant on May 14, 1973, under the motto ‘The beginning of a new VW era’. The model heralded a completely new family of vehicles containing water-cooled engines, front-wheel drive and ultra-modern all-steel chassis. Positioned as a mid-range model, the Passat was the successor to the VW 1600. In that May 46 years ago, no one in Wolfsburg could have guessed that the Passat would sell 30 million and as such would even outdo the legendary Beetle (21.5 million). Together with the Golf (35 million) and the Beetle, the Passat is one of the three best-selling Volkswagen vehicles of all time.