The VW Passat CC has gained a more powerful 2.0-litre TDI engine and DSG gearbox, which should be a match made in heaven. Ian Robertson finds out
With the credit crunch biting hard, and most car makers already competing in the mainstream markets, buyers are looking for something that little bit more distinctive to catch their eye before they part with their hard-earned cash. And while Audi has just launched the four-seat A5 Sportback, Volkswagen has been in the four-seat market for over a year, courtesy of the distinctive Passat CC. Most manufacturers with open-top beauties dub their cars CC for coupé-convertible, but for Volkswagen, it stands for comfort-coupé. The Passat CC takes the basics from the its saloon brethren, adding a rakish coupé-style body, but with a twist – as this car has four-doors instead of the traditional two. It still has the swooping roofline and pillarless doors, just in a more practical, more accessible package. Despite the obvious style benefits, few rivals exist – the much pricier Mercedes- Benz CLS-Class is its nearest competitor. But a niche can mean tiny sales though, and only 1,530 Passat CC’s found homes in 2008. It was launched part way through the year, and in a credit crunch, and therefore a healthier 3,850 are estimated to be sold during 2009.
The cabin of the Passat CC comes closer to the Phaeton luxury saloon than Passat, with good quality plastics and soft-touch materials used throughout. Volkswagen has paid exquisite attention to detail and it feels incredibly durable. The leather seats are figure hugging and give great levels of support, while the steering wheel is multi-adjustable. For rear seat passengers, legroom is generous, but headroom is at a premium, as you would expect in a coupé. Rear vision is also quite limited, meaning that parking sensors at the back are an essential piece of kit.
Most Passat CC’s will spend a lot of time on the motorway and this is where it feels most at home, with long-legged cruising ability and excellent levels of refinement. On the twisty stuff, the Volkswagen is surefooted with plenty of grip, and decent feedback from the steering. In GT trim, VW fits what it calls adaptive chassis control, which allows the driver to vary the chassis settings between normal, comfort and sport. Many systems only alter the ride, but this set-up is unique in that it also affects the steering feel. The six-speed DSG automatic gearbox is silky, with almost unnoticeable changes. The 168bhp, 2.0- litre turbodiesel engine features the latest common rail technology and is both smooth and refined, with punchy performance. Acceleration is brisk – the 0-62mph dash is dispatched in 8.6 seconds, and despite being billed as a coupé, CO2 emissions are kept in check at only 159g/km, while 46.3mpg can be achieved, on the combined fuel economy cycle.
RIVALS: Alfa Romeo 159 2.0 JTDM Lusso, Audi A5 Sport back 2.0 TDI SE, Lexus IS 220d SE-L
- Engine: 1968cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 6-speed DSG automatic
- Max Power: 168bhp at 4,200rpm
- Max Torque: 258lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,800kg
- Max speed: 139mph
- 0-62mph: 8.6secs
- Combined Consumption: 46.3mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 159g/km (G)
- Bootspace: 532litres
- Insurance group: 14
Refined, quality feel, smooth engine and gearbox, Generous boot space
Rear headroom restricted, limited rear vision