VW introduces the all-new replacement for a popular sedan that has been on sale for 29 years. Meet the Chinese equivalent of the Passat.
Go pretty much anywhere in the world and you can expect to see the Volkswagens Golf on the road. But Volkswagen also makes certain models specific to local markets. Like the new Gol it recently introduced in Brazil, the Passat that's specific to the North American market (as opposed to the overseas version) or the compact and commercial vehicles that don't make it here at all. In China, VW offers the Santana sedan. Introduced way back in the mid-80s, the Santana has been a solid seller for VW in China, with over 4 million units sold.
But after 29 years on sale, it has grown a little long in the tooth, to say the least. Hence the all-new second-generation model released today at its global headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. A little smaller than either version of the Passat (whose predecessor the original Santana was based on), the new Santana is a notchback sedan in similar form to the Skoda Superb: it's got the shape of a trunked sedan, but a bit liftgate like a hatchback. It rides on a 2.6-meter wheelbase with plenty of room in the back - a key factor in the Chinese market - and 480 liters of cargo space in the back.
Power comes from one of two naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engines: a 1.4 with 90 metric horsepower and a 1.6 with 110. Features like ABS, airbags, electronic stability system, automatic climate control, electric sunroof, alloy wheels, parking sensors and leather upholstery can all be had, depending on which of three trim levels (Trendline, Comfortline or Highline) is specified by the customer. The name strikes us as a touch ironic, since the guitarist of the same name typically plays a Gibson while Volkswagen teams up with Fender for audio systems. But nameplate aside, the Shanghai-built Santana will clearly be a vital product for Volkswagen in this vital market.