Dare To Be Different – The Volkswagen CC

On the morning that the Volkswagen CC was due to turn up I wasn’t exactly bubbling with excitement. I expected the car to be a dull motorway shuttle – so that’s me completely wrong again then. My week, in fact, was spent in a big comfortable car with a decent turn of performance and a sportier than expected drive.

The CC started life as a sort of four-door coupé version of the evergreen Passat. It offered a sleeker look albeit with limiting factors, most notably the reduced headroom in the otherwise comfortable back seat. Climbing in and out I cracked my head on the low roof line until I learned to duck on the way in. It’s a good idea to think about being arrested. Your imaginary policeman will place a firm hand on your head as you clamber in the back so as to avoid any head-cracking lawsuits. Letting your imagination run along these lines means you will surely remember to dip your head.

Once inside, there is no problem as the seats are both supportive and comfortable with plenty of legroom for the longer limbed. Up front, there’s no problem. The seats – which can be heated – look great and exude quality, as does the interior in general as you can see from the images. It’s the little touches I like: where the key fob hangs down (push-button start) there’s a little strip of rubber protecting the dashboard material. That’s what I call attention to detail.

Volkswagen haven’t lumbered the CC with a ‘premium’ tag yet it certainly fits the bill. The car originally started life as the Passat CC, a four-door coupé version of that car. It doesn’t particularly offer anything different yet seems to serve a completely different role in the line-up and has dropped the Passat moniker. It is a much rarer beast and perhaps has more visual interest; it’s more individual and has a few more luxury items and trims that sets it a notch above the Passat, especially in R-Line trim. The price however remains relatively affordable. The new and very stylish Passat may steal some of its thunder but the CC, say Volkswagen, will remain as a stand-alone in the VW range.

The choice of engines is limited but acceptable. There’s a 1.4L TSI with or without VW’s Bluemotion technology or a 2.0L four-cylinder turbo-diesel in three stages of tune. Our test car had the middling 177PS version with Bluemotion. This engine, it has to be said, is a bit of a gem and is fitted with Stop/Start. The company reckon you should get 54mpg on the combined cycle and I would say that on a good run it should be pretty easy to get close to that. On test we saw mid-forties but then we were using the Sport mode more than usual.

Our CC had a six-speed DSG gearbox, the one to go for. Auto changes are slick in either Drive or Sport mode and there’s a choice to shift using the lever or the steering wheel paddles. It’s easy to mix and match these options to suit your driving needs. 62mph comes up in a swift 8.4 seconds and, for a four-pot motor, feels effortless. All the facts and figures are itemised below.

The CC was fitted with the XDS electronic differential, which is now a standard fit to the more powerful versions. It aims to provide greater traction for more engaging handling when cornering and does indeed do this. The drive is actually quite engaging for a big smooth saloon especially as there are three suspension modes to choose from. We left it in the Sport setting for driver preference but Normal and Comfort are available for wafting along motorways and the like.

Maybe the swoopier design of the CC is a tad less practical than the Passat but you still get a cavernous boot that goes deep into the car. On a saloon, loading and unloading is never as simple as the ubiquitous hatchback and it’s a bit of a stretch to reach right into the bowels to grab that rogue tin that had come adrift of the shopping bag. Our car was fitted with a full-sized spare wheel and had a nifty lever that dropped down the one side of the folding seat back, enabling the loading of long, awkward articles. The ski-hatch is there as usual.

The Volkswagen CC has an identity of its own and is a very desirable car at a very desirable price. It looks like nothing else in its class and it is hard to position in the big-car market. It does however feel like a different take on what can be a formulaic saloon car sector. It has sufficient power, is very comfortable, looks great in white, and could be seen as a left-field choice. Why not dare to be different? 9Geoff Maxted