From £23,6277

Keen to distance the swoopy four-door from its more conservative sibling, the Volkswagen CC now does without the Passat moniker. But while the name has changed, the car isn't radically different.

The looks have been brought up to date with VW's new trademark headlight and bumper arrangement, and there's an improvement in the amount of equipment fitted as standard, most noticeably a three-seat bench, rather than two individual seats.

The badge may have changed, but the CC is a comfortable, quiet, relaxing mile-eater that places the emphasis on refinement above all else, like the model it replaces.

Engine options include a 158bhp 1.8 TSI and a 207bhp 2.0 TSI on the petrol side, with a 2.0 TDI with either 138bhp or 168bhp offered for diesel buyers. The main advantage of the 168bhp diesel over the more popular 138bhp version is the addition of the XDS electronic differential, which is now a standard fit to 207bhp TSI and 168bhp TDI CCs. It aims to provide greater traction for more engaging handling when cornering, thus addressing one of the Passat CC's main criticisms, it's lack of driver involvement, to a certain extent.

The diesel engines are well suited to motorway, and a tall sixth gear aids economy, with the official economy figure of 57.6mpg well within reach for the high-power diesel. The low-power diesel, predictably, is the running cost champion, with a claimed 60.1mpg possible on the combined cycle.

The interior is largely unchanged over the old Passat CC, so it retains that model's sophistication. The CC's dash is based on that of the standard Passat, but all touchpoints are bespoke. Equipment levels are good, with all models featuring Bi-xenon headlights and full-colour touchscreen sat-nav. Top-of-the-range GT models come with adaptive cruise control, leather trim, cruise control and front and rear park sensors.

There wasn't a lot wrong with the Passat CC before these mid-life tweaks, but it now has an identity of its own and is arguably the most desirable model in VW's range.

It still looks like nothing else in its class, and is hard to position directly next to a main rival. For these reasons, even four years after it first launched, it feels like an antidote to the usual formulaic approach the four-door saloon market, VW's own Passat included.

 

Top 5 Compact execs

  • BMW 3-series
    The 3-series remains strong in the areas it has always excelled but now it's more rounded than ever

    BMW 3-series

    1
  • Mercedes-Benz C-class
    The C-class shares a lot of its looks with the new S-class, furthering its desirability

    Mercedes-Benz C-class

    2
  • The Audi A4 saloon is bigger, roomier and more aerodynamic than its predecessor

    Audi A4

    3
  • The CC offers a handsome alternative to the staid Passat

    Volkswagen CC

    4
  • Volvo S60
    The Volvo S60 is offered with an impressive new D4 diesel engine

    Volvo S60

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volkswagen range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Lavishly-equipped, rugged-looking Peugeot 508 estate is a pleasant drive, but there are many more recommendable alternatives
  • 308 GT 1.6-litre petrol is priced from £24,095
    First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Peugeot's given the 308 the engine from the 208 GTi 30th and some chassis upgrades; we find out if the changes bring a bit of old-school Peugeot hot-hatch magic to this likeable family hatch.
  • Car review
    26 March 2015
    Does Suzuki's new city runabout have what it takes to succeed?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    Collins Performance has given the Fiesta ST 270bhp and 265lb ft, but has our favourite fast Ford been ruined in the process?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    The Seat Leon X-Perience is the closest thing to an SUV that you can buy with a Seat badge for now, blending estate practicality with off-road ability