Volkswagen is preparing a mid-life refresh for the Passat, which will see the firm’s large family car and adversary for the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport and Mazda 6 subtly restyled and featuring fresh plug-in hybrid tech.

The plug-in hybrid Passat GTE has been a success story for the firm, although it always occupies the upper rung of the model’s line-up from a price point of view. To make the petrol-electric version more accessible in terms of cost, the plug-in hybrid powertrain could be offered across the Passat range as an engine option rather than a top-spec trim alone.

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Skoda, which is poised to reveal a facelifted Superb next year featuring a plug-in hybrid, will take a similar approach, bosses at the Czech brand have confirmed to Auto Express.

The powertrain, which will comprise a 154bhp 1.4-litre turbo engine and a 114bhp electric motor, will also be upgraded as the appetite for electrified vehicles grows among customers. The electric range will increase to around 44 miles thanks to a larger 13kWh lithium-ion battery. That switch is expected to reduce the hybrid’s CO2 emissions to around 31g/km. As with the existing model, hybrid variants will get subtle styling cues to stand out from conventionally powered versions.

Previewed in our exclusive images and caught on camera by our spies, the new Passat stays distinguished from the flagship Arteon by its more conventional shape. But minor design changes can be spotted under the masking.

We expect the front end to have a slightly revised lower section, featuring new air intakes. While the main grille could change to suit VW’s new family face, it probably won’t feed directly into the headlights as it does on the Arteon. There’s a new pair of tail-lamps, with revised lighting signatures, at the back.

It’s harder to predict what we’ll see inside. The current car shares its interior architecture with the more upmarket and stylish Arteon, so it would seem odd for Volkswagen to undermine its newer flagship with an overhauled design.

Technology-wise, the current sixth-generation Passat features up-to-date infotainment, too, with the availability of Discover Pro navigation and the manufacturer’s Active Info Display 10.5-inch digital instrument panel.

However, don’t expect to see the brand’s latest Innovision Cockpit set-up, found in the all-new Touareg, because the Passat and the flagship SUV do not share platforms.

Elsewhere in the line-up, VW will replace the current 1.4-litre turbo motor with the company’s new and more efficient 1.5-litre engine, while tweaks will be made across the rest of the petrol and diesel engines to reduce CO2 output and fuel consumption.  

Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess announced back in March that the new Passat “is on the starting blocks”, but because the brand is not attending the Paris Motor Show next month, and the US gets its own version of the mid-size executive saloon, the model is due to be revealed early next year, ahead of landing in UK showrooms in the spring.

The Passat’s reveal will kick-start a busy 12 months for the German manufacturer as it gears up to launch the all-new Golf Mk8, along with the first of its new generation of electric cars, the I.D. hatchback.

Read about VW’s plans for the electric I.D. hatchback in 2019

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