Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion concept

DETROIT -- It'd be easy to walk right past the Passat BlueMotion concept that's tucked into a corner of Volkswagen's booth at the 2014 Detroit auto show. The blue sedan doesn't look particularly special or futuristic, but that's because all of the conceptual bits are hidden under the hood.

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42 miles per gallon

The BlueMotion concept has an estimated highway fuel economy rating of 42 mpg, but its not a hybrid and it's not a diesel. VW states, "The Passat BlueMotion Concept is being presented (to show) just how fuel-efficient a non-hybrid, gasoline-engined mid-size sedan can be."

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Cylinder deactivation

Under the hood, you'll find an efficient 1.4-liter EA211 TSI engine. This, according to the automaker, is the world's first inline four-cylinder with cylinder deactivation technology. In situations where drivers only need partial power, such as when applying light pedal pressure to cruise at city speeds, the Active Cylinder Management technology can drop down to three- or even two-cylinder operation, saving fuel in the process.

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Stop-start

The 1.4-liter is also equipped with a stop-start system that shuts the engine down when the vehicle is stopped to prevent wasting fuel to idling. When the driver lifts their foot from the brake pedal, the engine springs to life again.

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Decoupling DSG

The dual-clutch DSG transmission is already pretty efficient, but it is also able to decouple itself from the engine while coasting to prevent drivetrain drag.

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Front-wheel drive

Power flows through the front wheels.

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Power and torque

When needed, the Passat BlueMotion concept is able to deliver 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

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Full-sized

The BlueMotion concept is based on the standard Passat, so the full-sized sedan offers ample space for people and cargo. We're curious about what the performance would be like with four passengers onboard.

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BlueMotion concept

Volkswagen calls the Passat BlueMotion a concept, but it looks ready for production and the road to us.

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Is the market ready?

The question that remains is will the North American large sedan market -- for which this generation of Passat was specifically developed -- support such a low-power, high-efficiency model? Maybe in Europe, but probably not in the States.

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Cabin comfort

In the cabin, the BlueMotion concept isn't stripped down to save weight like you might expect.

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Infotainment

Peek at the dashboard and you'll see the automaker's full-featured infotainment system. Ditching it probably wouldn't save much weight anyway.

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Volkswagen has offered technologies such as its Active Cylinder Management on smaller European cars, including the Golf and Polo, but never on a vehicle as large as the North American Passat.

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Gauging interest

Gasoline engines will be with us for a bit longer, yet. So for drivers looking for the thriftiest way to get from point A to point B, but who aren't ready to make the jump to a hybrid or diesel, vehicles like the Passat BlueMotion concept should be of particular interest.

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Coming soon?

The technologies in operation under this concept's hood are already active on the road in smaller European production vehicles bearing the BlueMotion badge. It wouldn't be too hard for Volkswagen to produce and market this thrifty set of wheels.

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