Volkswagen's sleek CC gains its own identity as it builds on the success of its predecessor. Jonathan Crouch reports on the frugal 2.0 TDI 140PS BlueMotion Technology version.
Ten Second Review
The Volkswagen CC shucks off the workaday Passat identity and steps into the limelight with even more confidence. With revised styling, better handling and more equipment, the CC looks set to continue its record of success. It may not have been the most original idea, but it's certainly hard to fault the execution, especially in green-friendly 2.0 TDI 140PS BlueMotion Technology guise.
By most conventional measures, a coupe needs two doors. One is not enough, four is too many. Volkswagen's Passat CC was a car that didn't abide by those rules. Sold alongside the original Passat saloon and estate, the CC was a car that seemed a non-starter to begin with. It was more expensive, less spacious in the back and had entirely too many doors to be a coupe. Most commentators felt it was just a half-baked crib of the rather lovely Mercedes-Benz CLS. The public disagreed and couldn't get enough of the thing, the Passat CC shifting over 270,000 units between its launch in 2008 and its replacement in 2012.
The replacement divests itself of the Passat badge, preferring the snappy and simple CC title instead, and although the silhouette looks much the same, Volkswagen has tweaked quite a few of the details. It's a formula that buyers seem to have loved and it's understandable that the changes have been subtle. Another thing that won't alter is the preference of British buyers for the 2.0 TDI 140PS BlueMotion Technology variant - and that's the car we're going to look at here.
The Volkswagen CC isn't a car you buy to drive on its door handles, so it probably won't bother too many potential buyers that the 2.0 TDI 140PS BlueMotion Technology diesel model we're looking at there doesn't come with the Wolfsburg brand's clever XDS electronic differential. This is there to put down the power more effectively coming out of tight corners, but if you're using this car as most will, then you're far more likely to be racking up the motorway miles.
Here, the CC delivers a driving experience as accomplished as many models (the Mercedes CLS-Class included) that will cost you twice as much. Refinement is outstanding and ride quality excellent. You can improve it further by specifying the ACC Adaptive Chassis Control system that's standard on plusher GT models. Via 'Comfort' and 'Sport' settings selectable with a button to the right of the gearlever, you can instantly change the ride from soft and syrupy to firm and feisty - or vica versa. If you do want performance figures, then 0-60mph in this variant occupies 9.8s on the way to 133mph, figures that are little affected if you choose, as many will, to equip your car with the 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
Design and Build
This CC rides on the same chassis as its Passat CC predecessor, retaining four doors, and while the silhouette looks familiar, many of the details have been brought up to date. At the front, the radiator grille has adopted the strong horizontal lines of Volkswagen's current family face, flanked by bi-xenon headlights and topped with a re-profiled bonnet. The bumper has been updated with an extra air intake and silver-coloured 'winglets' that frame the fog lights. The frameless doors are carried over from the previous model, but a bit more shape has been grafted into the flanks with sculpted sills and more curvaceous bumpers. The tail lights have been refreshed, with incandescent bulbs being replaced by LEDs. The numberplate lights are also now LED. As before, the Volkswagen logo doubles as the handle for the boot, and it can now optionally contain a rear-view camera.
The sacrifice for that swooping roof section is headroom. What's more, the CC is a strict four-seater compared to the Passat saloon's five berths. The CC is a little longer than a Passat saloon, however, and the boot measures a hefty 452-litres. The cabin is solidly built and the fascia design is a degree or two classier than that of the stock Passat model.
Market and Model
Prices have remained sensible, with the range starting at just under £26,000 for the 2.0-litre TDI 140PS BlueMotion Technology model we're looking at here, with the rather lovely DSG twin-clutch sequential gearbox tacking another £1,500 onto that price. The DSG is available with every CC engine variant and once you've tried it, you'll wonder why you'd bother with a manual again in a vehicle like this one. The standard six-speed manual box isn't a bad unit per se, it's just that it doesn't match the relaxed personality of the CC quite as well as the DSG transmission. Whichever box you choose, the CC looks quite good value, especially when cars like the Mercedes CLS and the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe campaign at far more rarefied price brackets.
While the name may have changed, a comprehensive list of standard equipment remains and expands to include features such as the standard driver alert system as found on the Passat, and front head restraints with four-way adjustment to reduce the risk of whiplash. Recently added options include High Beam Assist, which automatically controls dipping of the headlights; Side Assist, which monitors the vehicle's blind spot; Lane Assist and adaptive cruise control with City Emergency Braking function; front climate seats with massage function; and an electrically deployed tow bar. Standard specification includes touchscreen satellite navigation system, DAB digital radio, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, 2Zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights and brake energy recuperation on all models
Cost of Ownership
Volkswagen has access to some of the world's most advanced passenger car powerplants and there's not a weak link in the CC's engine line up. The real star though is the variant we're looking at here, the 140PS 2.0 TDI diesel in BlueMotion Technology guise. This car will manage to eke over 60 miles from a gallon of diesel although this takes a significant dive to 53.3mpg if you opt for the DSG transmission. Emissions figures are similarly impressive, with the manual BlueMotion model emitting just 125g/km.
What else? Well there's a gearshift change indicator on the dash to help ordinary owners get somewhere near to those kinds of returns on an everyday basis. Insurance groupings for the 2.0 DTI 140 BlueMotion Technology variants vary between 23 and 24. And maintenance costs can be kept in check thanks to a choice of two different servicing regimes. The 'Time & Distance' scheme will suit low mileage vehicles with scheduled garage visits required every 10,000 miles. If you use your car frequently though, you'll want to sign up to the Long Life/Flexible service programme, able to extend the interval between garage visits to as much as 18,000 miles or two years.
The Volkswagen CC isn't the most adventurous update on the old Passat CC but then it never needed to be. This is a car that sells on relaxed elegance and to try to change a winning formula too much would have been folly. All that was really needed was to modernise some of the interior fixtures and fittings and tweak a few of the exterior details. Leaving the basic shape, pricing and appeal much the same is the mark of a confident manufacturer at the top of its game.
You can see why so many CC customers go for the 2.0 TDI 140 BlueMotion Technology variant we've been looking at here. Though it doesn't get the clever XDS electronic differential, we suspect that most owners won't be bothered. They'll better prioritise the excellent ride (further improvable by specifying the neat ACC Adaptive Chassis Control system) and the low running costs. Overall, a very desirable car, on and off the balance sheet.