Can a new Passat CC match a used Merc CLS? We find out
11 June 2010

You'll notice the similarities between the Mercedes CLS and VW Passat CC, but which is the better buy?

The Passat CC looks suspiciously like a 2008 tribute act, covering Merc’s 2004 smash hit. Back then, the CLS quickly gained status as something of a style icon. It may be a simplistic guess, but surely Volkswagen’s marketeers must have noticed the similarity.

See all the VW Passat CC v Mercedes CLS test pictures

If we had £25k to satisfy the need for a swift, refined and well engineered four-door coupe, the CC would be top of the pops – not least because the chart’s a bit empty of four door coupes.

There is a new entry now though, a climber through falling prices. The CLS500 can now be had for Passat CC money. The question is how tempting a proposition is a fresh faced, un-creased TSI Passat when put face-to-face with the original 383bhp Bauhaus coupe?

The black 5.5-litre car we’ve got is from the used forecourt of Mercedes Kingston. It’s done a very reasonable 22,000 miles and is priced almost exactly the same as the CC. Financially, that’s where the similarity ends. The Merc will cost more to run, and not by small amounts. Insurance, fuel, tyres – the lot.

Surprisingly, the CLS feels a touch baggy, with a driver’s seat of matured comfort and an autobox which slurs first-to-second in a very relaxed manner. The air suspension compressor is vocal too.

That said, the slim-windowed Merc still stands out (even with this car’s slightly incongruous multi-spoke wheels). The CC suddenly looks more Mamma Mia than Abba. The Passat is, in its own right, suave and elegantly proportioned, but the Merc looks lower and meaner.

Inside, the CC is lighter and brighter with touch-screen multimedia, two-tone leather and a brushed aluminium console. Four at a time can experience both cars; the Passat has slightly more rear headroom, the CLS more cosseting seats. The appeal of freshly-minted quality over slightly tired and shiny gives the nose to the VW.

See all the latest VW Passat reviews, news and videoSee all the latest Mercedes CLSreviews, news and video

In nearby leafy lanes, the CC shows its dynamic character and holds up well in terms of refinement. Performance is strong, too, with lag-free pick-up and a slick six-speeder. Of course, the optional dual clutch 'box would have been a fairer comparison for Merc’s traditional auto.

Meanwhile, the 500 starts to raise its game and blow away the forecourt cobwebs. The changes get smoother, and whilst the softest of its three suspension settings is suspiciously floaty, the fabulously supple ride in other settings betters the Passat. The Merc’s pacey, sonorous V8 is a definite Number One smash hit.

Neither is a sports car, but the CLS has the greater capacity to entertain, to cosset and to feel more special. Mercedes should feel flattered that VW has gone to the trouble of making such a stylish and capable copy, but copy it is. If you can afford to run it, the CLS will give the greater rewards. The impersonator Passat must practice its act.

To read the full comparison test buy this week's Autocar magazine, on sale now.

See all the latest VW Passat reviews, news and videoSee all the latest VW Passat reviews, news and video

Join the debate

Comments
13

7 June 2010

What a lame article.

7 June 2010

[quote inthebin]What a lame article. [/quote]

It's not a lame article. It is just a fact that a lame copy cannot compete with the original whatsoever.

7 June 2010

Yeah, you're right. VW should have been developing an all-new Passat instead of the CC. A big mistake on their part.

7 June 2010

Which lazy hack described the CLS as 'the original Bauhaus coupe'? Does Bauhaus simply mean designed in Germany now? That baroque monstrosity has nothing to do with the pared down industrial minimalism of the Bauhaus school, but the Mk1 Audi TT possibly deserves the title.

7 June 2010

Autocar : You should have given an estimate of the running costs to compare. I wouldn't be surprised if three years down the road, the CLS was worth more than the Passat, especially a tidy 320 CDI, negating some of the higher running costs.

7 June 2010

Isn't this dilemma faced by every prospective new car purchaser? Myself for instance; do I spend £17,000 on a nice shiny new Ford Focus, with it's warranty and cheap(ish) servicing and running costs or blow the lot on a 3 year old 70,000 mile BMW 535D and the subsequent higher running costs.

 

7 June 2010

[quote Dave_Targett]Which lazy hack described the CLS as 'the original Bauhaus coupe'? Does Bauhaus simply mean designed in Germany now? That baroque monstrosity has nothing to do with the pared down industrial minimalism of the Bauhaus school, but the Mk1 Audi TT possibly deserves the title.[/quote]

+1000000

7 June 2010

[quote JacobE]

Autocar : You should have given an estimate of the running costs to compare.

[/quote]

Totally agree with that. No wonder someone described this as a lame article.

If you're paying £25k for a Passat then on the face of it, the running costs of the merc over 3 years will win hands down. I'm only too aware of the running costs on that Merc but depreciation will be the Passat's downfall.

However there is something else to consider - reliability. Neither car benefits from particularly good reliability (I've owned both VW and Merc albeit it not with a V8) and I think this is were the deciding factor lies. The VW will come with a full 3 year warranty so no need to worry. The warranty on that Merc will have just expired so lets hope there are no nasty surprises because those could prove to be mega expensive.

PS regarding depreciation: It's a common mistake to believe all these motor journalists when they say Merc residuals are rock solid, best in the business. For anyone who's done the sums, Mercs depreciate just as fast if not a lot faster than other marques. £57k new, and 3 years later it's worth approx £23k in good condition with average miles on the clock. Less than 40% depreciation? that's not very good. That CLS lost almost £1000 a month in depreciation alone! No wonder Janice Joplin asked the Lord to buy her a Mercedes Benz, she'd have been mad to pay for it with her own money.

7 June 2010

As nice as the Merc is, I'm surprised it's feeling a bit 'baggy'. Vocal air compressor and relaxed changes from 1st to 2nd sound like possible expensive repairs in the future. Plus after 22,000 miles the drivers seat has 'matured'??? I wouldn't expect that in a £10k supermini let alone a £50k Mercedes.

As a very left field suggestion, I think I might save myself quite a few thousand pounds and buy one of the last of the previous generation Honda Accords with the 2.4 litre petrol engine and 5 speed auto instead.

7 June 2010

[quote ronmcdonald]However there is something else to consider - reliability. Neither car benefits from particularly good reliability (I've owned both VW and Merc albeit it not with a V8) and I think this is were the deciding factor lies. The VW will come with a full 3 year warranty so no need to worry. The warranty on that Merc will have just expired so lets hope there are no nasty surprises because those could prove to be mega expensive.[/quote] I agree with u the VW is the one I would go for . Have never liked Mercs and never will think they are ugly with a big horrid grill on the front and have always thought the CLS looks fussy and oddly propertioned . If I was going to by a big german car it would be a BMW 5 series .

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