There was a time when midsize sedans reigned supreme in the Philippine automotive market. Mitsubishi Galant, Honda Accord, Nissan Cefiro, Mazda 626, Toyota Camry--remember those days? In the last 15 years or so, however, the segment has seen a dramatic decline in both relevance and actual sales. And that's largely because the smaller sedans--subcompact and compact--have gotten so good and so spacious that most buyers no longer see the need to upgrade to a midsize one.
The key to successfully selling a midsize sedan in our local market these days, we suppose, is to make it truly premium--one that is clearly better than the best compact sedans in terms of performance, ride comfort, features, technology and safety. Because otherwise, buyers will always settle for a cheaper alternative if the difference is hardly discernible to begin with.
And that's the formula that Volkswagen Philippines is bringing to the table with the imminent arrival of the eighth-generation Passat. Yep, the latest iteration of the German carmaker's midsize sedan--the distributor labels it "luxury midsize sedan"--is coming in a couple of months' time.
"Very soon, Volkswagen Philippines will offer Filipino executives and businessmen the actual opportunity of owning and driving the highly touted Passat, the 2015 European Car of the Year," the company said in a statement. "The all-new Passat, introduced in Europe in November 2014, is the eighth generation of a line of large cars produced by Volkswagen since 1973. The Passat has been earning favorable reviews in Europe, particularly for its passenger and cargo space, refined and quiet ride, powerful diesel and gasoline engines, and top safety scores."
The Philippine-market Passat will come equipped with a 2.0-liter TSI gasoline engine (217hp) mated to a six-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission. Among the standard features of the Philippine-spec Passat are LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive chassis control, 14-way power-operated seats, navigation system, rearview camera, "active info display" gauges, and panoramic sunroof.
The Passat will be sold in two variants (Highline and top-of-the-line) in our market. Volkswagen Philippines wouldn't reveal the exact prices yet, but gave TopGear.com.ph a price range of P2.3 million to P2.8 million.
Is the Passat the much-needed shot in the arm the midsize-sedan segment has been waiting for? We'll find out soon enough.