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Car reviews - Volkswagen - CC

Our Opinion

We like
Excellent noise suppression, high level of comfort in most conditions, supportive seats, ample headroom and legroom
Room for improvement
Choppy ride on bumpy country roads, conservative styling for a coupe, should have stand-alone name

Volkswagen logo10 Feb 2009

By JAMES STANFORD

THE CC is an interesting take on the Passat. Volkswagen’s description of it as the Comfort Coupe is quite apt.

Like the Mercedes CLS, the Passat CC offers a more prestigious experience than the sedan model, plus unique styling that gives owners a point of difference.

Is it really a coupe?

The word “coupe” is up for debate, given the traditional meaning of coupe, as expressed in the Australian Dictionary of Motoring, is a “car body with two doors and a sloping roof”.

Vehicles like the RX-8 (with two small reverse-hinged rear doors), the CLS and the CC are testing that classification.

Whether it is a sedan with sloping C-pillars, like the Lexus GS and Nissan Maxima, or a four-door coupe, doesn’t really matter.

What is important is that the CC lives up to expectations.

The Passat CC does feel like a more prestigious model than the standard Passat, providing a luxurious experience for all four passengers. It is much like the CLS in this regard.

The back seats are comfortable, with side bolsters providing lots of support.

It is no surprise that the front seats are heated, but the rear seats are also fitted with the comfort feature.

There is a vast amount of headroom and legroom in the back as well.

This would be a great vehicle for corporate car pooling or a holiday with two older kids, because no one travelling in the back feels like they are missing out.

All of the occupants are likely to appreciate the soft leather trim used to line the seats and the doors and take note of the more up-market dashboard that distinguishes this from the standard Passat models.

There is nothing wrong with the regular Passat interior, but the designers of the CC have managed to make this car look a bit more special.

The various controls are reasonably easy to use, but they look like they are from a more expensive model.

The instrument cluster is backlit in white rather than the traditional blue - just part of VW's move to make this car special.

Brushed aluminium strips work well to add that prestige touch without trying to push it too far with woodgrain (which is available as an option).

The sporty steering wheel looks good, with its mixture of perforated leather and chrome trim.

The only negative on the inside is that the sloping A-pillars intrude into your personal space. It’s not that they are overly thick and obscure vision, they just seem to be a bit too close.

The Passat CC is unusually quiet on a country drive.

We travelled from Melbourne to Daylesford on this week’s national launch on back-roads that usually produce a wild howl from tyres of imported vehicles.

Normally, only the local manufacturers seem to be able to contain the noise of the tyres on this coarse-chip bitumen.

The CC suppresses both the tyre rumble and wind-noise to the point that it is eerily silent. This is the result of a range of factors, but little things like a third layer of windscreen laminate must help.

All of this makes the cabin of the Passat CC a cosy place.

The ride is, for most parts, very good.

Unless you select the adjustable suspension’s Sport mode, the ride is quite compliant on most surfaces.

However, the system loses its composure on some country roads. The bumpy roads of our test route caused the Passat to jump and jolt.

It didn’t matter whether we selected the Comfort, Sport, Normal modes, the suspension just wasn’t up to the job.

Perhaps the Passat CC was set-up with smoother West European roads in mind.

Changing the suspension modes can change the ride feel on many road surfaces. The Comfort setting allows for more vertical movement, while the Sport mode just feels like it picks up more bumps and ruts.

The best thing to do seemed to be to leave it in the default Normal setting.

While these settings alter the suspension damping rates, they also affect the power assistance of the steering. The feel is extra light in Comfort mode, standard in Normal and firmer in Sport mode.

This change in assistance is probably more noticeable than the suspension changes.

While the Sport mode feels the nicest, the steering still feels a bit disconnected and at no point do you feel that involved in the drive.

The CC holds the road well, but it isn’t the most nimble car around.

That said, there weren’t that many tight bends on the launch route, so we will have to further test the handling when we get can drive a test car on familiar roads.

Both of the engines are good, but in different ways.

The diesel is a lovely effortless powerplant, well suited to the CC. It has loads of torque allowing it to set a rapid pace without pulling too many revs.

It is surprisingly quiet at idle. You would forgive a bit of rattling at low speeds, but it is hushed, just like the tyre noise.

The V6 is a bit louder, but in a good way. It has a muscular note when you really get stuck in, but it doesn’t seem as loud as the rorty R36.

The potent V6 turns the Passat CC into a fairly fast machine. It is a lovely smooth engine and revs out nicely to nearly 7000rpm.

But the meaty engine it doesn’t quite feel as fast as you expect. The fact it is not overly loud may contribute to this, but the Passat CC is a big car and it does feel that way sometimes.

It is nice to rev out the V6 and use the paddles to change gears, but the car seems more suited to cruising than pushing hard.

The excellent DSG transmission works away smoothly and surely.

Many customers will also be tempted to shell out some extra money and try-out technology such as the adaptive cruise control, which is normally only available with far more expensive models.

The Passat CC is well equipped for its price.

Styling is, of course, objective. Some journalists at the launch loved the shape while others thought it looked as good as it could.

Personally, I think it looks a bit plain, but then again the target customer probably would prefer a conservative design over a more classic, sporty coupe shape.

Either way you look at it, the CC looks substantially different to the regular Passat models and that is a good thing.

In fact, the Passat CC is so different to regular Passat that it could well have been given a different name to recognise its individual character.

I don’t know who thought that calling the car a Passat CC was a good idea, as everyone knows the name CC is associated with coupe-convertibles.

Indeed, when I saw the car at last year’s Detroit Motor Show, I assumed it was a coupe convertible and started looking for the join lines that allowed the roof to fold into the boot.

Move beyond the name and forgive the way the Passat CC handles bumpy roads and you find that it is a comfortable prestige model that will pamper four occupants and make the owner feel more special than regular Passat owners.

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