Automotive journalists converge on Chattanooga for VW Passat test drives

Automotive journalists converge on Chattanooga for VW Passat test drives

May 31st, 2011 by Mark Kennedy in Local - Breaking News

About 32 automotive journalists got a first peek at the new 2012 Volkswagen Passat today at the Hunter Museum of American Art.

About 150 journalists are expected to visit the city in several waves over the next week to report on the new Passat, the company's first American-made car in a generation.

With the Walnut Street Bridge framing a dark blue TDI (diesel) copy of the new Chattanooga-made sedan, the journalists heard VW designers talk about the lines of the new car.

Alex Earle, a senior designer at Volkswagen of America, used words such as "pure," "solid," and "iconic" to describe the new, bigger Passat.

He said the design, five years in the making, should age well, noting that German auto owners often keep their cars for many years.

The new Passat was made bigger than the current model with American car buyers in mind, Earle said.

"This country is vast and big ...," he said. "The proportions are different in the United States."

Company spokesman Mark Gillies, a former executive editor of Car and Driver magazine, said the SE trim level, base-priced at $24,825 with automatic transmission, is expected to be the top-selling Passat.

Pricing for the Passat was released last week, with a base 2.5L model with manual transmission coming in at $19,995, before destination charges.