B1 was produced between 1973 and 1981 as two and four-door fastback sedans styled by an Italian designer. Estate is introduced in 1974 as a five-door. It was one of the most stylish cars for its time, being announced as a Car of the Year in 1974 and was named B1. It was with four-cylinder OHC at first with 1.3l 54hp and 1.5 liters petrol engines with either 74 or 84hp. As an option was with either four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission with front suspension and a coil spring. In 1978 was launched Passat Diesel with 1.5l Diesel. In 1977 all were created with a facelift, revised styling, and central mounted heating. In North America, it was famous as the Volkswagen Dasher. It was with carburetted 1.5lites inline-four with 75hp, later on, upgraded to 1.6l with 78 hp, fuel injected.
In Brazil, it has been produced longer until 1988 with 1.5 liters gasoline engine. About 680 000 are created only in Brazil. In 1976 the engine arose to 1.6liters. It was available as two and four-door sedan, and a thee doors hatchback introduced later. Five-speed gearbox and 1.8-liter engine are then developed. Around 170 000 Passat LSE between 1983 and 1988 for Iraq was made. It was built with the weaker MD270 1.6 liter engine and four-speed manual transmission. It was a big success and was viewed as more modern than the others in the lineup.
In South Africa, it was sold with two doors saloon bodywork as LS Coupe with 1.3 and 1.6-liter engine. It was also available with four-door saloon bodywork. In 1977 Passat LX was launched as a five-door hatchback with an improved ventilation system and new hubcaps. In 1978 was placed a version with a facelift, upgraded suspension, and reduced noise.
It was produced between 1981 and 1988 with a longer body as CD, CL, and GL. It was a hatchback with a three-box saloon famous under the name Santana in Europe and Quantum in North America. Three-door hatchback, wagon model and four-door sedan were offered. At first, they were introduced with 2.22-litre five-cylinder engine. It was mostly sold with diesel and petrol engines. It was also provided with automatic gearbox and 4+E transmission. Mechanical stop and start option were also available in some countries. They were also produced in Argentina, Mexico, China, South Africa, and Brazil. The features for Passat Tetra were taken from Audi 80 Quattro with a few differences. However, it was offered only with five-cylinder engine. In 1985 taillights and facelift were added to the Quantum. About 4.6 million units were produced worldwide with 3.3 million of which made in Germany.
B3 was first introduced in 1988 as Sedan and Variant in Europe and later on in North and South America. It was looking like an older model because of the lack of grille. It was the first Passat to be solely built from a platform designed by Volkswagen. It had a smaller size engine which ensured more space. It was based on the A platform with four-door saloon and five-door estate versions. It is the first car to be offered under the name Passat. It was with fuel injection petrol engines and a four-wheel drive system taken from Syncro. Engines to choose from were 2 liters 16-valve, 1.8 liters eight and 16 valve and the new 2.8 liters VR6 and G60 engine later in 1991. Diesel engine with 1.6 and 1.9 liters was also available. The most powerful engine was the VR6, which could provide a speed of up to 224 km per hour. In the European market, the customers were offered a model with Climatronic and self-leveling air suspension.
The facelift version of B3 was introduced in 1993 and was called B4. The exterior was changed, and a grille was reintroduced. It was an updated version of B3 with two front airbags and safety equipment. TDI engine was offered as an option with inline four-cylinder 1.9 liters turbodiesel. It had a capacity of 70 liters able to pass more than 1300 kilometers with one tank fuel. Automatic 4-speed and 5-speed manual transmission were available with also petrol engines from 1.6 liters l4 to 2 liters and 2.8 and 2.9 liters VR6. It was offered as 5-door estate and 4-door sedan and was classified D class.
In the European market, the cars were marked as CL, GL, GT, L, and VR6. In Mexico was offered only GLX trim, while in the USA and Canada GLS and TDI were also provided.