Last year, only a single version of Volkswagen’s Passat offered a V-6: the range-topping SEL Premium model, which started at $34,815. Wolfsburg, in conjunction with the crew at VW’s sprawling facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, decided that there was room for a VR6 lower in the line, in a car wearing a sportier mien than the luxury-focused SEL Premium. And that’s how the fresh-for-’18 Passat GT came to be. First mooted at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show (and pictured here in its lightly conceptual guise), the GT makes an appearance for 2018 as a limited-run model.
Rather than crib from the SEL Premium, the GT starts with R-Line basics, offering that car’s sportier bumper, a honeycomb grille with a red accent line—GTI style—plus standard LED headlights and DRLs. Regardless of whether you choose Pure White, Reflex Silver, Platinum Gray, or Deep Black, the GT comes with black roof, spoiler, mirror caps, and door and window trim. The taillights are darkened to add to the tuner-boi blackout aesthetic. The 280-hp 3.6-liter VR6 engine is backed by a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and exhales through dual rear pipes. VW’s 19-inch Tornado wheels over red-painted brake calipers round out the package.
Inside, the vent trim and center console are done up in piano black, there are carbon-fiber-look accents, and the sill plates have been rendered in aluminum with GT badging. Seats are upholstered in black leatherette with Moonrock Gray inserts and contrast stitching. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, and infotainment comes courtesy of VW’s 6.3-inch Composition Media screen, with Bluetooth connectivity. VW’s Car-Net App-Connect smartphone integration is part of the package as well, offering Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink capability. There are two USB ports: one fore, one aft. And, for the satellite radio junkies, a three-month SiriusXM subscription is part of the package.
Just how limited the Passat GT turns out to be, we presume, depends on how well buyers take to it, but at $29,940, it’s a well-priced addition to the line, especially considering that Toyota’s sport-oriented six-cylinder Camry, the XSE V-6, starts at $35,845.