The updated Volkswagen CC brings a fresh face to the more affordable four-door coupes segment, which it has largely dominated since the Passat CC launched in 2009.
The new Volkswagen CC, which has dropped the Passat badge but still starts from $54,990, carries over many of the same technical details of the model it replaces. Nonetheless, it has been visually enhanced with a modernised interpretation of Volkswagen’s original design and given a boost of additional standard features.
The CC stands on its own in this category, with the only competitors challenging its market position costing significantly more and sitting in a different league altogether.
Compared to the old car, the CC is more defined in both front and rear styling. There’s a sense that Volkswagen designers have attempted to convey a look that is unique to the Volkswagen Passat range (which also explains why the name was dropped). The front-end styling, though, is easily recognizable as a member of the Passat family, given the distinct (and standard) LED daytime running lights. As for the rear, it’s slightly less obvious, thanks to the lower roofline and sharp tail-lights that convey a “CC” shape (at least for the left side).
Volkswagen Australia will continue to offer the CC in two engine variants: 125TDI diesel and V6 FSI petrol. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel front-wheel-drive 125TDI puts out 125kW of power accompanied by 350Nm of torque. The all-wheel-drive (4Motion) 3.6-litre V6 FSI matches the torque output but improves the power rating by 95kW.
Both engines are coupled to Volkswagen’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG) with no option for a manual. The dash from 0-100km/h takes a good 8.6 seconds for the diesel while the more powerful petrol (which costs an additional $10,000) manages the same feat with three seconds to spare.
If fuel economy is critically important to you than the diesel’s claimed fuel usage of 5.7 litres per 100km (our rear world test showed 6.7L/100km) is hard to look past, especially given the petrol sips a good 4.0L/100km more fuel (real world figure of 11.7L/100km).
On the road the V6 petrol is easily the more engaging of the two to drive. Be it the additional power or the way in which it delivers it to all four wheels, it’s a sensational package for the money. Engage the sport mode mode and the V6 petrol behaves more like the Passat R36 of old, tighter springs and a better steering feel instantly come to life, which means you can throw it into a corner and it will come out the other end asking for more.
In the process, the V6 emits a beautiful engine note that, if you listen closely, somewhat resembles the long extinct but much loved Golf R32. The six-speed DSG gearbox is also more at home coupled to the petrol than the diesel, with instant gearshifts in the right rev range and a smooth link-up in traffic. The V6 CC is not the sort of car you’d buy just to drive with enormous enthusiasm, but the fact is, you could.
Despite all of this, more than 70 per cent of buyers are expected to pick the diesel. Reason being, it’s $10,000 cheaper for a start but also because for the type of car the Volkwagen CC is, the diesel makes perfect sense. Not only does it cost less, it uses less fuel and comes with all the same standard features.
There’s no difference in the packaging of the two variants, except for the engine and all-wheel-drive underpinnings. On the road the diesel can feel a little underwhelming compared with the petrol but on its own it’s a fine car to own. You will never be left wanting more if all you expect to do is drive it sedately in suburban environments. In saying that, we put it through its paces around Launceston's hilly roads and founds it grip and refinement level top notch for a car its size.
There are the rare moments of hesitation from the gearbox as it tries to work out what it’s trying to do but overall it’s smooth and easy to drive. When pushed close to its limits there were hints of moderate torque steer but, again, unlikely to faze you if you simply want a sophisticated car for the daily commute.
Jump inside and you’ll quickly recognise the familiar Volkswagen look and feel. Be it a Polo or a CC, it’s easy to tell when you’re inside a Volkswagen. This is potentially good if you’re buying a Polo but perhaps a deterrent if you’re spending big on a CC. There are sof-touch plastics throughout the cabin and all the contact points (the bits you’d actually touch as part of everyday driving) are genuinely a pleasure to touch.
Volkswagen has added satellite navigation as standard equipment to the new CC. This means the all-too-familiar RNS510 is slotted right in the dash. Although the addition of standard sat-nav is always welcome (and should almost be mandatory in this price category), the RNS510 unit, which is also in charge of audio, is a let down in nearly all regards. From the low screen resolution to the poor display of roads and surroundings, or the long pause between track changes, the unit can certainly do with an upgrade. The current range of sat-nav and audio systems found in cheaper cars easily outdo the RNS510.
The rear seats can now fit three passengers as standard, but you wouldn’t exactly be going on many long drives with three average-sized adults in the back. Rear headroom is much better than you’d expect and you’ll have no issues with four adults inside.
One of the new features available on the CC is a safety assistant package that can be optioned for an arguably justifiable $3300. The package includes side and lane assist, which use sets of radars and cameras to warn of vehicles in blind spots or warn and assist (via steering intervention) when the CC is leaving its lane unintentionally.
Adaptive cruise control (being able to automatically slow down and speed up with traffic - up to a predetermined speed) and front assist and city emergency brake function (warning of a frontal collision and applying brakes in emergency situations) are also included. Overall we found the systems to be well tuned and easy to deal with, though after a few hours of driving we turned off the lane assist as the consistent steering intervention was becoming a bit of a nuisance and at times a little too trigger happy. There's also the smart opening rear boot, which just needs a little kick to get it open.
Overall, the Volkswagen CC remains the only legitimate four-door coupe offering in its price range and brings a sense of European sophistication to the segment that is otherwise financially unattainable for many.
Volkswagen would do wonders if it spent more resources on individualising its interiors some more and upgrading its infotainment systems, otherwise it’s hard to fault the CC for what it is. A beautifully styled and premium, but affordable, four-door German built coupe.
- Volkswagen CC 125TDI – $54,990
- Volkswagen CC V6 FSI – $64,990
- Walnut Ornamental Wood Inserts – $500
- Metallic/Pearl Effect Paint – $700
- Active Climate Control Front Seats with Massage Function – $750
- Park Assist 2 – $900
- 19-inch Lugano Alloy wheels – $1900
- Dynaudio 600W Premium Audio System – $2000
- Panoramic Glass Roof – $2000
- Driver Assistance Package – $3,300