Volkswagen has given its popular Passat range a mid-life refresh ahead of its premiere at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

A key feature of the updated model is its semi-autonomous driving capabilities, and it’s the first Volkswagen to be fitted with such a system.

Known as ‘Travel Assist’, the setting allows for partially-automated driving at speeds up to 130mph, with the tech able to control the acceleration, braking and steering. Emergency steering assist also increases safety when drivers have to take evasive action to avoid collisions and obstacles.

The Passat will also be the first Volkswagen to feature a touch-sensitive steering wheel, which can detect certain functions – such as operating Travel Assist. LED matrix headlights will also be offered, which follow in the footsteps of the firm’s Touareg SUV, which utilised the lighting technology.

Volkswagen’s latest infotainment system (known as MIB3) also debuts on the Passat. The touchscreen system offers wireless smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a new satellite navigation setup that uses real-time traffic information. Further internet services are also offered through this system.

The electric range of the plug-in hybrid GTE version has also been improved to a claimed 34 miles due to a larger battery. The current petrol and diesel engine line-up is likely to remain, although a new more efficient 2.0-litre TDI ‘Evo’ engine is set to be added.

Styling changes to the updated Passat are hard to spot, but the model features revised front and rear bumpers, as well as new LED lights and a revised line-up of paint colours and alloy wheels.

The interior benefits from new trim finishes and fabrics, a new digital cockpit, as well as the aforementioned touch-sensitive steering wheel and infotainment display.

While the Passat’s sales are overshadowed by the Polo, Golf and Tiguan in the UK, it’s a hugely popular model elsewhere in the world. This spring, the 30,000,000th Passat is expected to roll off the production line, with the car now in its eighth-generation.

Prices for the updated model are expected to be announced after the Passat’s public debut at March’s Geneva Motor Show, and ahead of the revised car going on sale in the middle of the year.