SOMEHOW the Passat CC had passed me by, until I overtook one on the motorway recently and found myself doing a double take on what must surely be one of the most surprisingly stylish cars for sale in the UK.
Fast forward to this test drive. Firstly, despite its CC name, a Coupé Convertible it is not. There is no clever folding tin top here – in this case CC rather uniquely stands for Comfort Coupé. It’s a name that, teamed with the Passat badge, suggests the car is going to have rather more in common with its practical, dependable and somewhat dull namesake than the slicker, sports coupé that it actually is.
Up close, the four-door, four-seater CC really is quite a stunner. One can’t help thinking there must have been a moment when VW’s talented if conservative Passat designers may have taken a look at the final mock up for their Comfort Coupé and remarked “blimey, that’s gone well”. Just to say it’s more stylish than the regular Passat is doing it a disservice; all the corners are smoothed out, the roof rakes low and the car is considerably more muscular, as if the standard Passat had been going to the gym.
It’s so stylish in fact that, at the weekend, I spotted two Passat CCs in the high street in Knutsford, Cheshire – a town that is the northwest of England’s equivalent of Monaco in terms of car ownership, albeit with more black pudding and greater rainfall. The Passat CC is classy enough that it didn’t seem too out of place nestled between Bentleys and Porsches. It’s an economical choice for any motoring stylista who struggles to get excited about an everyday saloon but who is, nevertheless, restricted by some very real world practical considerations when purchasing a car.
With a nice, wide aggressive stance its look promises motoring high jinks. It’s broader and lower than the regular saloon, but sadly this engine fails to deliver quite as many thrills as its looks promises – for that you’ll have to get the GT or GT V6.
The CC has a similar side profile to the Mercedes Benz CLS. That includes the rear door rake that stoops so low even my diminutive wife had to crane not to knock herself out while getting into the back (her chief complaint about the otherwise much-admired – by her – CLS). In fact at around £21,000 you could call the CC a sensible man’s CLS.
On the roads the car feels far pokier than one would expect. The 1.8 litre TSI engine delivers 160ps and achieves 0-62mph in just 8.6 seconds. The engine sounds meaty enough, and on the motorway the CC is satisfyingly comfortable and suitably quiet. Sadly, in the bends there’s a far softer ride that its sports coupé looks belie. Our Passat CC came with the addition of Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) that allows you to tweak the suspension and steering depending on your mood. The ACC system has three modes – comfort, normal and sport. I found the comfort setting too soft even on the motorway, while the sport setting – which reduces body roll and is undoubtedly useful for short periods on the twistiest of roads – became uncomfortable over time. In the end I chose to drive on the normal setting almost entirely, suggesting that, for me, the additional £720 for the ACC option would have been unnecessary, with this engine at least.
Inside the CC, the ambience is one of conservative luxury, a combination of nappa leather and brushed aluminium elements which felt well-built and robust, albeit let down in a couple of places by some poor metal impersonations, in the doors in particular. A Park Assist system that allowed me to reverse using a rear mounted video camera and sensor alarms was extremely useful, not least because the corners are very difficult to see in this car.
Despite the rake of the roof, sitting in the rear is surprisingly comfortable for two, if not three for anyone under about six feet tall. There is no rear bench here. Instead, two seats, lounge chair-style are divided by a very useful clutter cubby with sliding door lid. No doubt, this will be deal breaker for some. This is no VW Phaeton and the provision of four seats instead of five seems a naive mistake.
But the boot is a revelation. Despite its low Coupé form and a short boot section VW has managed to increase the amount of luggage space available compared to the regular Passat. We managed two large suitcases and the required assorted baby paraphernalia with room to spare, confirming that the Passat CC is an entertaining, sportier and engaging option, even for dads, and without compromising on space. Unless you need five seats of course.