VW Passat: VW goes Audi-baiting with Passat R36

Hot Passat has 296bhp 3.6-litre V6 and 4wd

Boasting four-wheel drive, a six-speed DSG gearbox, 296bhp, a top speed restricted to 155mph and 0-62mph in 5.6sec, Volkswagen’s new Passat R36 has the on-paper performance to mount a robust challenge to stablemate Audi’s hot S4 models.

Powered by a 3.6-litre V6, the R36 also has uprated brakes and suspension and will be available in both saloon and estate guises when it goes on sale in the UK in the second half of 2007. Prices are expected to start from around £28,000 for the saloon, putting it head-to-head with the Audi A4 3.2 FSI in terms of money, while delivering similar performance to the £37K V8-engined S4.

As with the Golf R32, the hotshot Passat will be identifiable externally by a deep, chromed grille surround and a lower front bib spoiler with additional cooling ducts. Inside there’s leather- upholstered Recaros and plenty of alloy trim. What it’s like to drive we should discover next spring.

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