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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I think it is about time we had this thread, enjoy!

The B5:
-Production Years: U.S. 1998-2001(early vin); Europe 1997-2000
-Has body-color rub strips, or black "textured" rub strips (Europe lower-line vehicle); no chrome trim at all. (Note: in photo below the windows have chrome trim added)
-Has a noticeably more "snub" nose appearance than the B5.5 and utilizes rectangular style headlamps, along with separate turn signal housings.

-Has tail-lamps that blend the different functions into one color of red (Entire U.S. Market and in Europe this denotes a V6, The standard European lenses have a white reverse lamp) The tail-lamps also reach slightly around the rear quarterpanels.

-Has front cup-holders in a pop-out section on the bottom of the front console.

-Very early B5's they have a storage section here and the climate controls are located above the radio.

-The front armrest is smaller and houses a small storage compartment, the armrest sticks over the console with a ratcheting mechanism for height adjustment.
-Instrument Cluster in 1998-2000(mid-year) does not have large MFA:

-Instrument Cluster in 2000(mid-year)-2001 has large MFA, but still older style:

-Full FIS Cluster found as an option in Europe:


The B5.5:
-Production Years: U.S. 2001(late vin)-2005; Europe 2001-2005
-Has a slightly wider stance and has a much more distinctive fender flare all around.
-Has chrome-trimmed rub-strips; in Europe this denotes a higher-line vehicle (all lower models are black rubber strips); and chrome window trim on all B5.5's.
-Has a more "stream-lined" appearance utilizing headlamps integrated in to the front of the vehicle, it also has turn signals integrated into the headlamp housings.
-Has corner markers integrated into the front and rear quarter rub-strips.
-2004(mid-year)-2005 vehicles have more rounded mirrors with integrated turn signals.

-Has tail-lamps that have more "defined" segregations between the internal functions, They have two distinct vertical circles in the center that house the primary brake lamps. There is also a white reverse lamp section horizontally through the middle.

-Has NO pop-out cup-holders in the front console, only a filler plate.

-Front center console has 2 cup-holders next to the E-Brake handle and the front armrest is rectangular with a large storage compartment beneath it.

-New style cluster with large MFA:

-Full FIS Cluster found on all W8's and as an option in Europe:


The B5.25:
-A rare beast forged from the toil of a select few lunatic minds from a B5 and B5.5; it has the front-end of a B5.5.....(pause for suspense)..... but the rest is a B5(shock and horror!!!)

The FWD:
-Has NO "4Motion" insignia on the gear-selector.
Tiptronic:

Manual:

-Has NO "4Motion" Badge on the Bootlid.
-Has a solid beam rear suspension/axle; no independent rear suspension, rear axle, drive shaft, etc...
-Is not bad in the snow.

The 4Motion:
-Has a "4Motion" insignia on the gear-selector.
Manual:

Tiptronic:

-Has a "4Motion" insignia on the Bootlid. (Note: W8 badge indicates another rare beast, all non-W8 Passat owners eventually wish they had one)

-Has an independent rear suspension, drive shaft, rear axle, etc...
-Is awesome in snow.

There are many other differences between the B5 and B5.5, but they are more difficult to distinguish; Think of this as "Passats for Dummies"
Feel free to add any necessary information that I missed, I know I have.

Photo of Tiptronic 4motion shifter courtesy of Oil Dripper.
 

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Great overview...there are a ton more differences between the cars (bodywork, instrumentation, etc), but you covered most of the major ones :thumbup:

However, I predict the overall reduction in "do I have a B5 or 5.5?" threads to be around 5% :D
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Great overview...there are a ton more differences between the cars (bodywork, instrumentation, etc), but you covered most of the major ones :thumbup:

However, I predict the overall reduction in "do I have a B5 or 5.5?" threads to be around 5% :D
I tried to keep it down to the easier to distinguish differences; but if there is anything you would like me to add, I'd be happy to do so.
 

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I tried to keep it down to the easier to distinguish differences; but if there is anything you would like me to add, I'd be happy to do so.
Makes sense...IMO, one of the biggest ones is that only the doors are shared between the generations. The B5.5 is slightly wider and has a much more distinctive fender flare all around.

The integrated mirror/sidemarkers didn't start until 2004 or so, so the majority of B5.5 cars have the older-style mirrors.

Major changes/improvements to interior leather and headliner materials for B5.5.

B5.5 has more of an upmarket chronograph-style set of gauges.

Rear armrest in the B5.5 has integrated cupholders and storage.

Front center console in B5.5 has 2 cupholders and a fixed storage cubby.
 

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Great post and very helpful. The B5.5 was released in 2001 in Europe and the mirrors with the integrated turn signal were only a MY 2004 and on feature.
 

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IF one wanted to get crazy, we could start documenting when the front corner covers and side indicators changed colors. (Amber to clear .. etc). That would help members understand just how "classic" their B5 is.

Now if you have a short passenger mirror with amber corners and side indicators .. you've got an assembled-in-Germany B5, right?
 

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Now if you have a short passenger mirror with amber corners and side indicators .. you've got an assembled-in-Germany B5, right?
All of them are German to the very last B5.5 :thumbup:

The stubby/amber combo is just a 1998 model thing.
 
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I wish I wasn't witless
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Discussion Starter #10
Give me time and I'll fill in the blanks, although I would like to have this stickied.
 

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Extremely Early B5 & 1998 Featured

Bango KeyFob
Green Backlite Dash Lighting (Early )
White Cluster Needles
B4 Passat Single Din Radio (Early ) No K-Line Wired
Belly Pan Had Foam Attached To It (Early ? )
Two Peice Engine Cover
Smaller Sized Front Rotors
Two Rear Headrest, Middle Lap Seat Belt
Amber Corner & Side Fender Lights
No Low WasherFulid Or Worn Brake Pad Idoit Light (Early )
Early CCM Were Not Able To Accept Re-Codeing
Unique Side Mirror Switch
Rear Defroster Was Not On A Timer (Early)
Stubby Passenger Mirror

Thats My FIS Cluster Picture :)
 

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I wish I wasn't witless
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2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Extremely Early B5 & 1998 Featured

Bango KeyFob
Green Backlite Dash Lighting (Early )
White Cluster Needles
B4 Passat Single Din Radio (Early ) No K-Line Wired
Belly Pan Had Foam Attached To It (Early ? )
Two Peice Engine Cover
Smaller Sized Front Rotors
Two Rear Headrest, Middle Lap Seat Belt
Amber Corner & Side Fender Lights
No Low WasherFulid Or Worn Brake Pad Idoit Light (Early )
Early CCM Were Not Able To Accept Re-Codeing
Unique Side Mirror Switch
Rear Defroster Was Not On A Timer (Early)
Stubby Passenger Mirror

Thats My FIS Cluster Picture :)
I had to use someones picture that most likely would not delete it; lucky sob I can't wait to get a Full FIS and finally see my Navi. displayed along with the lamp failure indicator :whistle: and all the other goodies.
 

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From your pictures, the B5 had side markers while it looks like the B5.5 doesn't. I'm not sure if it's just the pictures or if all are like this?
 

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From your pictures, the B5 had side markers while it looks like the B5.5 doesn't. I'm not sure if it's just the pictures or if all are like this?
He mentions "-2004(mid-year)-2005 vehicles have more rounded mirrors with integrated turn signals."

Therefore before mid year of 2004, the B5.5 had squarish mirrors and side markers in the fender, as well as in the rub strips.

This picture is of a B5.5 Passat made in November of 2000 according to the vin.
 

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Guessing that would be considered a B5.25? He mentioned there was a B5.25 that had the facelift but all the features of a B5.
 
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