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Driven: Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

Driven: Volkswagen CC
Style and comfort for the car that emphatically 'is not a Passat', here tested in new R-Line trim.


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| Test drive | Volkswagen CC |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Good points: suave looks, typically excellent Volkswagen interior, super-smooth ride and drivetrain, huge boot.
Not so good: not very exciting to drive, new one potentially on the way, would a Passat be just as nice for less cash?

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen CC R-Line TDI BlueMotion
Pricing: £31,685 basic; £35,740 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: six-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
Rivals: Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé, Mercedes-Benz CLS
CO2 emissions: 137g/km
Combined economy: 54.3mpg
Top speed: 137mph
0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Power: 177hp at 4,200rpm
Torque: 380Nm at 1,750rpm

Our view:

Trying to divorce the Volkswagen CC from the Passat is all well and good, but when Volkswagen makes the former so heavily dependent on the latter, you find yourself referring to the car as a 'Passat CC' in polite conversation. This would not please the marketing types at Wolfsburg. They are adamant that the CC is a cut above its saloon cousin. Volkswagen would indeed go on to assert that this is a rival to such lofty vehicles as the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Audi A5 Sportback or all-new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé.

A noble conceit, I'm sure you'd agree, but all of the above are based on models that are somewhat more premium in outlook than the Passat (especially the E-Class-based CLS, which is even a class above the Audi and BMW), a car that clearly doesn't like to slum it with other D-segment machines like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia and instead has what might be unkindly described as 'delusions of grandeur'. So, does the CC come across as properly upmarket, or just a seventh-generation Passat in a fancy frock?

The CC gets off to a good start, because this car is one of the snazzy R-Line models that was introduced earlier this year. The front grille and bumper, side skirts and 18-inch 'Mallory' alloys are all bolted on, while LED daytime running lights are added at the front. Inside are a few R-Line bits of trim and a new steering wheel. All of this will cost you £650 on top of an equivalent GT model and in our eyes, it's worth it - especially in striking Candy White. Its general shape may have been around for six years now, but with the new light clusters front and rear it's so much more visually interesting than a Passat could ever hope to be, which means the designers have hit their model brief square in the chops.

In terms of equipment and interior quality, it's another big plus. Not that Volkswagen does a shoddy cabin anywhere else in the range, but the CC's feels that little bit more special than most. This might be to do with the simple addition of an analogue clock in the dash; aah, aren't we old-fashioned, eh? Again, based on a previously top-spec GT, the R-Line doesn't come with a sparse smattering of kit, but even so this car has some options and upgrades that bump the ticket up: the satnav is upgraded from the standard-fit RNS 315 to an RNS 510 unit with some additional multimedia gewgaws, at a cost of £1,335; the fantastic Dynaudio 10-speaker, 600-watt sound system (with the neatest MP3 storage device we've yet seen, a folding pocket in the glovebox) another £865; adaptive cruise £710 and keyless entry with the start-stop button and hands-free boot opening £540; plus some other sundries, like Park Assist (£195), a heated windscreen (£155) and that special exterior paint (£255), all pushing the asking price up to nearly £36,000. Still, it all feels and looks classy inside and out, and as we drove a 420d Gran Coupé M Sport the other week that was £36,160 before any options were even added, the CC easily undercuts any of its similar German rivals and is therefore a bargain.

There are two engine options for the R-Line version, a 210hp 2.0-litre TSI petrol and the more sensible 2.0-litre diesel with BlueMotion fuel-sipping technology and 177hp, as driven here, equipped with a six-speed DSG automatic. And, until you start driving it quickly, the CC's case only gets stronger, largely due to a totally serene demeanour in most situations. It has an exemplary ride, despite being on 245/40 R18 rubber all round, while its handsome and slippery shape cuts through the air with minimal sound intrusion into the cabin. It's also worth mentioning just how comfy it is inside for four average-sized adults and what a long, long boot it has; the floor in the cargo area stretches away for what seems like miles. Both the engine and gearbox work seamlessly at moving you around and the official economy figure of 54.3mpg seems more than achievable when negotiating motorways, given our car was hovering around 50mpg on stop-start A-roads.

The issue is that, if you try to dig beneath this unruffled veneer of capability, the CC reveals its saloon car roots. The steering is fuzzy and full of weight, not feel, and if you flick the dampers to their sportiest setting and knock the DSG over into manual mode so you can play with the paddle shifts on the steering wheel, you'll be disappointed. The car is way too soft across the back axle, with an unnerving lurch of roll present if diving into a corner in a committed fashion. The front end has loads of grip, but naturally is understeer-led, and ultimately driving along a quieter road like you're a teenager again becomes a ragged and rather unenjoyable affair. True, the CC doesn't aim to be an out-and-out driver's car, but its slinky looks do convey the idea that it might be a bit sharper to steer than a Passat. It's not.

With an eighth-gen Passat imminent, the CC's time in this particular guise is surely drawing to an end and there's a slight air of 'run-out sales booster' about the R-Line model. However, overall the Volkswagen CC came across as a thoroughly likeable machine, provided you don't fall into the trap of thinking its sporty body kit and coupé-like leanings will ever translate into some sort of Q-car in-joke; this is a car that isn't happy when being driven beyond seven-tenths. But use it like a supreme four-door motorway cruiser and it works a treat... rather like the cheaper, slightly more practical Passat would do. Ah. Right.


Audi A5 Sportback: The 'enemy within', for the same price you can get a basic 177hp 2.0 TDI Black Edition. Audi badge undeniably has more cachet than VW, although we reckon the CC is more stylish on the outside.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé: As mentioned, a 420d GC M Sport we tested recently was £36,160 basic and £43,525 with options. Gulp. However, it was an xDrive - knock £1,500 off the first figure and you'd have a RWD, 184hp 4 Series. It's not as exciting to drive as the blue and white propeller might have you believe, though.

Mercedes-Benz CLS: Recently facelifted and the instigator of this saloon-cum-coupé sector, it remains the best-looking of its type. The CC falls between two Merc stools, though, in that it is much cheaper than the CLS and much bigger than the A-Class-based CLA.

Matt Robinson - 20 Aug 2014    - Volkswagen road tests
- Volkswagen news
- CC images

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Volkswagen CC. Image by Matt Robinson.


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