The all-new Volkswagen Passat (B5 platform), sometimes referred to as the fourth (4th) or fifth (5th) generation, hit the market in 1996 in Europe and 1998 in North America with a completely redesigned platform. Unlike its predecessors, it used the "overhung" longitudinally mounted engine with front wheel drive design and was shared with the Mk I Audi A4 from 1994.
The Passat wowed the public as it marked a considerable step upmarket from the mainstream vehicles to a more luxurious and sophisticated level that had not been seen from a similar segment. In the UK for instance, the Mk 4 Passat had a starting price of £16,000, a thousand pounds higher than its rival the Ford Mondeo, yet the Passat was of a quality similar to that of its sister car, the Audi A4. This jump in quality took its toll on most of the competitors, forcing them to up their game when it came to interior quality. By 2000, the Ford Mondeo showcased the affect the Passat had in its class and has stayed the same until now. The only brands that have not improved their interior quality decreased their prices to compensate. In 1997, Volkswagen did the same in lower class with the Mk IV Volkswagen Golf.
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