Customers asked for it. Dealers asked for it. Volkswagen listened to them. Then it unveiled the Passat GT concept at Automobility LA, part of the 2016 LA Auto Show. It showed potential buyers and VW dealerships in the U.S. who had been clamoring for a sporty Passat just how such a car would look.
Designed and built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the one-off featured more than 20 cosmetic changes that set it apart from production Passats. It had the same basic, sharp lines, but more visual attitude, a lower ride height, a powerful V6, and a sport-tuned exhaust.
Clearly, the Passat GT concept was a hit because there was enough interest in it to make Volkswagen decide to turn it into a production car. The bad news is that the Passat V6 GT is only available for the 2018 model year. The good news is that we timed things just right and got the chance to drive one for a week.
2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT Exterior
The Passat V6 GT is a family car with flair. It’s based on the attractive R-Line model, and sports that car’s chiseled and aggressive front bumper. A GT badge sits between the two bars of the black honeycomb grille. Two eye-catching red stripes visually link the LED headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights on both sides of the front end.
To make the Passat V6 GT appear more athletic and handle better, engineers lowered its suspension, making the sleek body sit that much closer to the 19-inch, two-tone “Tornado” wheels and their 235/40R19 92H all-season tires underneath. Those offer a glimpse at the eye-catching red brake calipers.
As the sportiest model in the Passat lineup, the V6 GT uses low-key black accents instead of bright chrome. Black trim strips extend across the bottom of the doors and around the back bumper, which is also borrowed from the Passat R-Line. The daylight opening trim is also blacked out and matches the roof. A glossy black lip spoiler tops the trunk. Volkswagen didn’t make the taillights black, but it did the next best thing and darkened them. The twin exhaust outlets below them let out a raspy, throaty sound that fits the Passat V6 GT’s sporty appearance.
2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT Interior
The two-tone theme continues inside. The black leatherette seats feature Moonrock Gray inserts and contrast stitching. Metallic accents on the door sills, flat-bottom steering wheel, shift knob, and door panels add brightness while glossy carbon fiber optic trim make the V6 GT look a little more like an exotic two-seater than a practical four-door.
The driver’s seat is adjustable eight ways. It’s also heated, just like the front passenger seat. Legroom in the back row was plentiful for this 5’10” writer. Dual-zone climate control and front and rear vents made both rows a comfortable place to be.
The Composition Media infotainment system’s 6.3-inch touchscreen gave us access to our Bluetooth-connected devices, Voice Control, and satellite radio. Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect technology allowed us to integrate a smartphone through one of the three major platforms: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. We had no problem connecting an iPhone and using CarPlay to place calls, access text messages, and listen to iTunes songs. A pair of USB ports – one in the center console and one in the rear console – made charging a phone or mobile device on the go nice and easy.
2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT Performance
In this age of small-displacement, turbocharged engines, the Passat V6 GT has a relatively old-school engine: a large, naturally aspirated V6. No lag, no waiting, just forward motion. It can run on regular gas, but to develop peak horsepower, it needs premium fuel. When it gets high-octane gas, the direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 (VR6, in VW speak) generates 280 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is routed through the front wheels. No matter what its injectors are pumping, the big six emits a subtle, satisfying growl.
When we put the right pedal down, the Passat V6 GT’s torque pulled us to highway speeds in a hurry. Shifts from the six-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox were instant and seamless whether we used the shift knob or the paddles behind the steering wheel.
Despite its sporty looks and ear-pleasing exhaust note, the Passat V6 GT was surprisingly fuel efficient. According to the EPA, it’s capable of getting 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined.**
2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT Safety
Volkswagen clearly had a vision of how to make the Passat more visually and mechanically exciting, but it didn’t forget that the Passat V6 GT is a family sedan at its core. That means safety is just as important as performance. Volkswagen packed the hottest Passat with a variety of safety features, such as Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and a rear view camera. A multitude of airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, Engine Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution, and Hydraulic Brake Assist are also on the list of technologies the Passat V6 GT uses to protect its passengers, whether they’re out for a leisurely drive to the grocery store or charging down back roads. We preferred taking the latter route whenever we were able to.
2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT Overall
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT is a great example of the powers of asking and listening. It started as a collection of requests, became a concept vehicle, then turned into a production car that’s equal parts attractive, comfortable, energetic, and safety-focused.
Prices for the 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT start at $29,145.* Our press loaner had an as-tested price of $29,995.
If you want your request for a 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 GT to turn into a reality, go to an AutoNation Volkswagen dealership. And hurry. Once the 2018 model year is over, so is the Passat V6 GT.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.