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 Mid-size execs

  • BMW 5 Series
    Superb engine and cabin, but ride and handling let the side down

    BMW 5 Series

    1
  • The second generation Jaguar XF

    Jaguar XF

    2
  • Audi A6
    The Audi A6 is a car that delivers in every area

    Audi A6

    3
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
    The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

    Mercedes-Benz E-Class

    4
  • Lexus GS
    The Lexus GS is unusual in the part of the market in not offering a diesel option

    Lexus GS

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Volkswagen Up 1.0 TSI review
    First Drive
    30 June 2016
    The Volkswagen Up becomes much more fun thanks to the addition of a turbocharger
  • Car review
    30 June 2016
    Volkswagen’s compact SUV bulks up for a bigger slice of segment sales
  • Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TSFI S-line
    First Drive
    30 June 2016
    Audi has given its A3 Cabriolet a mid-life refresh. We drive it for the first time on UK roads.
  • Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI SE
    First Drive
    30 June 2016
    A 1.0 TFSI seems a small and unlikely engine for an SUV, but then the Q2 is Audi's newest and smallest soft-roader
  • Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
    First Drive
    29 June 2016
    Ferrari's four-wheel-drive GT car has been updated. We drive the GTC4 Lusso, replacement for the FF, and find out if it's worthy of its famous name