The Volkswagen name was once synonymous with the ultimate in economy, the least expensive cars to buy and operate. A lot has changed since the original Beetle, however. VW?s are still efficient, but they are not the cheapest cars on the lot. Now, with the introduction of the Passat W8, Volkswagen is competing with established luxury marques with a base price flirting with 40 grand. One thing that?s the same, however, is VW?s innovative spirit. There was nothing like the Beetle, and no one has ever made an engine like the W8?s. The entire Passat line was completely redesigned for 2002, with bolder contours and new lights front and rear. Its chassis is 10 percent stiffer for an improved ride and better handling. The Passat W8 went on sale in April as a 2002 model. The W8 model is named after its unique eight-cylinder engine, a compact engine with its cylinders in a double V, hence the W8 designation. This results in a midsize sedan with a 4.0-liter eight-cylinder engine, where all its competitors have at best a V6. Indeed, Volkswagen boasts that it?s the only eight-cylinder European sedan priced under $50,000 on the market today.