When Volkswagen's European-spec 2020 Passat makes its appearance at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show next month, it'll showcase more than just a pretty new facelift. The midsize wagon (which we don't get here in the States) and sedan (which we do) will also debut VW's new "Travel Assist" function for partially automated driving function, a new-generation infotainment suite and a host of other Europe-only cabin technologies.
We expect to learn more about the specifics of Travel Assist leading up to the debut, but we know that the technology will be enabled while cruising at speeds from zero up to 130 mph (210 km/h). This will also be on of the first instances of VW's new IQ.Drive branding for its suite of driver aid technologies.
The system will feature Volkswagen's first capacitive steering wheel that can detect the driver's touch, so it will most likely be a hands-on highway assist system similar to Volvo's Pilot Assist II or Nissan's ProPilot Assist. I expect that this is most likely a unification of VW's most advanced driver-aid features -- lane-keeping assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, speed limit detection and more -- into one "Travel Assist" button.
Other new safety features that European eighth-generation Passats will gain include a new Emergency Steering Assist that adds braking intervention to panic steering maneuvers to increase safety, and VW's new IQ.Light LED matrix headlamp technology, which has also been featured on the current Euro-spec Touareg generation and certain Audi vehicles.
Where the North American facelifted Passat that debuted last month in Detroit seems to be sticking with the still-pretty-darn-good MIB II infotainment system, the Europeans will be treated to a new third-generation of VW's Modular Infotainment Matrix. MIB3, for short, will feature a permanently integrated SIM card, giving drivers the option for an always-online data connection that can be used to improve navigation, stream music and access cloud-based voice recognition. The data connection will also power a new "Volkswagen We" service, enabling cloud-based driver profiles and other online services.
The MIB3-powered Passat will also be the first Volkswagen to boast wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, allowing drivers to ditch the USB connection when mirroring their apps and Apple Maps on the VW's dashboard display.
This will also be the first Volkswagen model available with the smartphone "mobile key" feature that allows Passat drivers to unlock and start their car by tapping an NFC-enabled smartphone. This is similar to what we've seen on the latest-generation Audi A8 and, presumably, will also be available only in European markets.
We expect to learn more about what tech goodies the Germans will be keeping to themselves -- including a new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid model with an extended electric range -- when the 2020 Passat rolls out at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. Stay tuned for details as they emerge.