Volkswagen's top brass have pledged to take some of its line of cars upscale, a promise hugely evident in the new Passat. Fast, quiet, luxurious and elegant, the new five-passenger sedan is so far removed from Passats of old that it's hard to believe the two are related. The Passat has definitely morphed into a higher state of being.
Autobahn Designs took the formula a step further, infusing the sizable sedan with a healthy dose of custom treatment. The results were so successful that onlookers frequently have no idea what model of car it is. Guesses run the gamut from Mercedes to Audi to Lexus. Few believe at first it is a Volkswagen.
VW's technical literature states the Passat features hundreds of changes, some visible, but most not. The most apparent are the changes to the body styling. As predicted, tuners such as ABD sought to unify the exterior elements, here with color-keyed trim and custom smoked taillamps and silver sidemarkers. The nose was reconfigured to include the superior xenon European-spec headlamps, which were nicely integrated into ABD's stealthy sport grille.
Although subtle, the small rear spoiler adds just the right amount of attitude without being obnoxious.
The underpinnings include Eibach's ProDamper package, featuring specially valved shocks and Sport Springs. "Many suspension manufacturers have three basic set-ups: soft, medium and hard," said James Hickerson of Eibach. "We take it a step further-we offer increments between those general settings. It's a pain in the ass and it takes a long time to perfect, but ultimately it's going to make people very happy."
ABD augmented the suspension with its swaybars-32mm up front and 28mm behind. The brakes are ABD's front and rear cross-drilled rotors treated with its silver caliper paint. The binders are filled with Mintex Red Box pads, a good aggressive street pad well suited for daily driving.
The unusual running gear is standard Mercedes-Benz AMG gear, featuring CL wheels measuring a whopping 8x19 in., mounted with Toyo's T1 tires sized at 235/35ZR-19. H&R's billet spacers give the Passat a slightly wider track and facilitate fitment.
As usual, ABD pushed the creative envelope with this car-its dual exhaust is a perfect example of its brand of ingenuity. ABD created a custom system based on 63mm stainless-steel stock with dual Fox mufflers and sizable tips. More than a few drivers followed way too closely in an attempt to get a closer look.
The Passat's 170-bhp engine was equipped with Split Second's electronic boost controller, a system that allows nearly 14 psi on demand. The controller is augmented with a Turbo XS aluminum piston-driven bypass valve that allows the motor to hold boost longer and more reliably than the stock system. K&N's panel filter helps the Passat breath, and ABD's carbon-fiber hood, oil cap cover and reservoir cap cover lend a singular appearance.
The sizable interior features ABD's four-piece stainless-steel doorsills, ABD mats (including a trunk mat) and gorgeous billet pedal covers from Conrero. The dash was treated with a Superior Grey lace-wood dash kit.
Despite often being surrounded by much more expensive cars in our parking lot, ABD's Passat garnered more than its share of attention. Although it still is undoubtedly a German car, it's got an "edge" that caused neck-snapping double-takes. My wife said it was her favorite car. Ever.
Dave Anderson, ABD's president, purchased the Passat as an "executive transport," a comfortable cruiser for clients or family members. "I purposely chose the Sport Automatic because I wanted it smooth and comfortable," said Anderson. It was all that and more. Although fairly sizable, ABD's Passat took everything I threw at it-high-speed curves, tight hairpins, declining radius turns. It behaved like a much smaller, more nimble car. The combination of Eibach and ABD suspension bits were well sorted indeed.