Volkswagen's saloon lineup in China is quite confusing as there are a lot of three-box models offered through the local joint ventures with SAIC and FAW. The People's Republic is the place where VW still sells a Bora-badged car along with a Phideon serving as an indirect successor to the ill-fated Phaeton. The Passat family is also interesting if you’ll allow us to explain.
The latest China-spec Passat was introduced towards the end of 2018 with a significantly different design than the Euro model on sale since 2015. The CN version looks a lot like the North American version even though the two models are entirely different underneath their familiar skins. That's because the model sold in China is based on the MQB platform whereas the US version is still using the old bones of the Passat NMS.
Adding more to the confusion is the Magotan, essentially a longer wheelbase specification of the Passat sold in Europe. It slots between the local Passat and Phideon models in VW China’s saloon family encompassing additional models such as the Lavida, Lamando, and the CC (Arteon in international markets).
For the 2022 model year, VW is giving the Passat a facelift in the world's most populous country. Revealing images of the saloon's mid-cycle update have been published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology after the car recently received the stamp of approval from the government. It gets a glitzy front grille with honeycomb-shaped chrome inserts, along with updated LED headlights and a cleaner front bumper design.
The most obvious change is at the back where China's Passat gains a full-width light bar, although we're not entirely sure whether that actually lights up or it's there just for decor. Those ghastly faux exhausts are sadly still there, as is the "280 TSI" badging reserved for the entry-level 1.4-litre powertrain sold alongside the 330 TSI and 380 TSI 2.0-litre models. All three are DSG-only affairs.
Seeing as how the North American version looks a lot like the Chinese model, we can't help but wonder whether this nip and tuck will be applied to the Passat sold stateside. Even if that's the case, it won't be sold here for a long time as a report states production of the midsize saloon at the Tennessee factory will end in 2023.