What is it?
The Passat CC is Volkswagen’s bold attempt at a stylish four-door coupe in the mould of Merc’s strong-selling CLS. Don’t let the name fool you – this isn’t a retractable hard-top convertible. Instead the CC is a lower and leaner version of the Passat saloon, sharing the same platform and mechanical layout.
Seen in profile the CC looks low and sleek. Every body panel is different from the saloon, and the ‘coupe’ is 31mm longer, despite sharing the same wheelbase. More importantly, it’s 50mm lower than its more practical sibling.
We’re told that the design was inspired in part by the chopped roofs of American custom cars in the early 1950s, and it’s certainly fair to say that the CC is the most visually arresting saloon that Volkswagen has produced for years.
What’s it like?
Not conventionally beautiful, to be fair – but the CC’s exterior styling is certainly audacious. Inside the cabin things are far more familiar, though – the frameless doors are pretty much the limit of the changes and the CC’s dashboard, centre console and instruments are pretty near identical to the normal car.
Rear seat accommodation isn’t exactly commodious, either – but there’s more room in the back than any similarly priced two-door coupe can offer. Luggage space is slightly down on the saloon, too.
The CC will be available with several direct-injection petrol engines, including the familiar 198bhp motor from the Golf GTI and a new 158bhp 1.8 TFSI motor, but the majority of UK sales will be fitted with the company’s new common-rail 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, which will be sold in both 138bhp and 168bhp states of tune.
The basic engine is no firecracker, but a solid 236lb ft of torque gives plenty of low-down urge. It’s far more refined than the old ‘pumpe duse’ engine, too – and the official 48.7mpg combined fuel economy figure is impressive or a car this size.
On the road, it feels slightly sharper than the standard Passat, although it’s nowhere near the BMW 3-Series for dynamic competence. High grip levels are bounded by predictable understeer, and although the damping works well at high speed the ride quality gets too busy in town.
Should I buy one?
Viewed objectively, the CC doesn’t make a great deal of sense. It’s larger, less useful and more expensive than the Passat saloon on which it’s largely based.
But the CC’s combination of style and practicality means that it will appeal strongly to people looking for something to help them stand out from the crowd.