Currently reading: New Passat CC v used Merc CLS
Can a new Passat CC match a used Merc CLS? We find out

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.

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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

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moe360 7 June 2010

Re: New Passat CC v used Merc CLS

I like the CC but its starting to lose its charm now compared to when it first came out, The CLS is still one of the best cars Merc have made and the design still looks modern and fresh.

If I had a spare 25k and did not need to save up for weddings and houses I would go get a CLS 2nd hand in good nick and waft all day long knowing I am driving a future classic

Rich_uk 7 June 2010

Re: New Passat CC v used Merc CLS

I don't mind the comparisons as Autocar have been running this theme for a while (in their Mag anyway).

I agree with the 'lame' tag though. There's no point point being vague about the running costs (inc depreciation) without giving at least some of the detail. I would also guess that if someone thinks about a 386bhp Merc, they would go for the 300bhp Passat rather than a 200bhp 4-pot turbo.

As it happens, I like the Passat and would prefer it to the Merc. However, I would never buy new and with £25K to spend I wouldn't buy either of them anyway!

crashbangwallop 7 June 2010

Re: New Passat CC v used Merc CLS

A bit of a non-article. Why single out the £25k VW as not as good as a £57k used Merc?

You can have the bottom of the range Ford Mondeo for around £17k or a BMW M3 Cabriolet on 55 plate for the same money.

Pick any expensive car and compare to a half price of less new and its a clear win for the expensive car, unless you want to save money on repairs, insurance etc.