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An invitation to drive Volkswagen's 2000 Passat with its new all-wheel-drive system through the Alps from Geneva to Monaco? What a great potential test of the system, which Volkswagen has named 4MOTION.
The 4MOTION system represents the first time VW has offered an all-wheel-drive passenger car or wagon in more than a decade. Sure, they've promised it before, but for one reason or another it was put off from one year to the next. This year, however, Volkswagen has delivered.
The 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system is currently available as a $1650 option exclusively on 2000-model Passat sedans and wagons with V-6 engines. It will be offered only in combination with Volkswagen's five-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, which offers drivers a choice of switching from automatic to manual, clutch-free shifting with a tap of the shiftgate.
The Passat can be ordered in either the base GLS version or the uplevel GLX. The Passat GLS trim with 4MOTION, the V-6 engine and five-speed automatic is $27,050 for the sedan and $27,850 for the wagon. Prices for the uplevel GLX trim are $30,905 for the sedan and $31,705 for the wagon. Those prices include a $525 destination charge.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you from experience how well it works since our driving plans were thwarted by a tractor-trailer accident on the planned mountainous route, restricting our driving to the highways and traffic-clogged roads through towns.
It should work just fine, however, since 4MOTION is the same as the trademark Audi quattro system currently used in the A4, A6 and A8 models. Quattro is now entering its 19th year and is in its fourth iteration.
Unlike many traditional four-wheel drive systems, which are part-time systems, 4MOTION is a full-time traction enhancing system that distributes power to all four wheels, all the time, at any speed. It is transparent to the driver, working without any driver input on when or how to employ it.