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Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Volkswagen Passat Performance

What is it? Designed to fill a hole left in VW’s lineup the Passat Performance Concept ups the sport factor in the new “designed-for-America” Passat that went on sale last year.

In place of the new Passat’s wheezy five-cylinder engine, the Performance Concept gets a 250-hp, 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine that is mated to a six-speed automatic. Outside, the bi-Xenon headlamps, LED taillights, carbon-fiber mirror caps, and 19-inch wheels set the Performance Concept off visually from ordinary Passats. A lowered suspension is designed to aid handling.

Inside the car are up-level touches such as faux carbon fiber trim on the dash and door, two-tone leather  seating surfaces, and black material for the headliner and side pillars.

What's new or notable? This engine is already  available in this body in some Asian markets, albeit with far less turbo boost and horsepower. For similar power in a U.S. certified engine, look for the 2.0-liter turbo from the Volkswagen Golf R.

CR’s take: When we tested three versions of the latest Passat we found them adequate, but missing the refinement and sportiness we enjoyed in previous Passats. We hope this Performance Concept can bring those qualities back to the Americanized Passat—and fast.

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