2009 Volkswagen Passat CC - First Steer
Just what is a CC - in Volkswagen language it's a Comfort Coupe.
It’s also Volkswagen’s latest rendition of the ever growing Passat range. Recently bestowed with the R36 moniker, the Passat range is awash with diesel, petrol and performance petrol variants, tailored to suit all needs.
The Passat CC introduces a revolutionary design, similar to Mercedes’ CLS. Passat CC is a ‘four door coupe’; it features the flowing lines of a coupe, while offering four doors and four seats. The idea behind the design is to carry the looks of a sport coupe, while also catering for people after the versatility of a sedan.
When it comes to the exterior design, barely any of the design cues are shared with the Passat sedan. Revised headlights and a sportier grille make the Passat CC look sufficiently different from its sedan sibling. There is also no exterior badging to indicate that it’s a Passat alternative.
The pack of motoring journalists at the launch were generally pleased with the front-end design, but I, much like a few other journalists didn’t think much of the rear. In my opinion, the Chrysler Sebring look-a-like rear light cluster detracts from what is essentially a stunning looking car.
Vehicles fitted with the reversing camera get a cool feature that flips up a Volkswagen symbol on the boot to reveal the reversing camera. This innovative feature doubles as a boot release when the vehicle is not in reverse gear.
Keen onlookers will also note that each door is pillarless, meaning that there is no surrounding to the glass elements of the doors. This reduction in door integrity is replaced by a chunky B-pillar and stronger window surroundings.
The windows also lower slightly when opening the door and return to their upright positions when the door is closed to help with longevity and sealing.
Front and rear leg room is quite impressive. One of the drive stints we did, I spent in the back seat absorbing the car’s ambience and nature. Being a strict four-seater, there’s none of the cramped feeling you get in a conventional sedan. The storage bin in the centre of the back seats provides cup holders and storage holes for your belongings.
To increase boot room, the seats can also be folded flat to aid in versatility.
Australia will receive two engine offerings in the Passat CC. We will be graced with the 125TDI and the 4MOTION V6 FSI.
Built in northern Germany, the Passat CC vehicles we drove felt very solid and well built, indicative of the quality you can expect from a German milling operation.
4MOTION V6 FSI
The first car I drove on the launch was the V6. One of the very first things that jumped out at me was the sensitivity of the brakes. Although they’re not abnormally sensitive, they take a few kilometres to get used to.
Most importantly though, it’s perfectly easy to jump into the car and start driving. Within a few kilometres of the Melbourne CBD, we were sailing along with great ease. Stop start traffic to begin with was the perfect testing ground for the six-speed DSG transmission.
Billed as one of the fastest gearboxes in the world, it sometimes stutters when moving off the line until the car is off and rolling. Coupled with the V6 engine though, there was no such event, with the car taking off without hesitation or neck shaking judder.
Once on the open road though, it was time to put the V6 Passat CC through its paces. The acceleration of this engine coupled with the Passat CC chassis is very impressive.
The engine freely revs out to the redline, where it grabs the next cog and continues to pull with no sign of slowing. Our short acceleration burst during an overtake was more than indicative of the relentless ability of this re-tuned motor. It could just as easily be seen pottering around the city, as it could tearing down the autobahn at speeds well north of 200km/h.
Gearshifts are either taken care of automatically by the gearbox or by paddle shifters attached to the steering wheel. They provide instant downshift and upshift response. It is annoying that the car upshifts automatically at redline though (around 6800rpm).
Featuring the same engine as the recently released R36 range, the Passat CC sounds much better inside and outside the cabin. There is a deeper engine note, one which should have featured far more prominently in the R36 range to match the benchmark R32 Golf.
The ability to accelerate must also be matched with the ability to stop. In the V6’s case, stopping is one of its extensive fortes. Although the 125TDI version is fitted with 16-inch brake rotors, the V6 gets a decent 17-inch set which pull the Passat CC up in phenomenal speed.
During a simulated emergency stop, the Passat’s clever Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) system combined with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) to brake each wheel to its potential maximum. The deceleration force is impressive, as is the level of body composure during and immediately following a maximum braking effort.
Standard across the range is Volkswagen’s all new suspension system. A user configurable system attached to the gear shift mechanism allows the driver to select between Comfort, Standard and Sport modes.
Individual computers attached to each suspension member control the rate of flex and movement in the suspension arm and dampers. Traditionally, a system of this description would vary dampening rates across the entire vehicle, where this system (quite noticeably too) varies the damping based upon what each wheel is doing. It works quite well, especially in sport mode when the vehicle is thrown through a few bends.
Although the drive route was relatively mundane, there were a few corners that allowed the car to stretch its legs. An initial feeling of understeer is felt before the car settles and begins distributing torque to the rear axle.
If the car is in sport suspension mode during cornering, the steering tightens up to assist in getting that sporty feel. Body roll is kept to a minimum during cornering when the sport mode is selected, again assisting in providing that sporty feel.
Unfortunately, until I get a chance to road test the vehicle through our regular test route, it’s hard to tell how it really feels through a set of tight bends. If the limited launch program is anything to go by, it will be a tale of the all-wheel-drive system keeping up with the power being delivered, opposed to the chassis and engine being inadequate for the task.
With a 3.6-litre, 220kW, 350Nm V6 on board, you can expect a fuel efficiency figure of 10.6-litres/100km, along with 254g/km in carbon emissions.
A quick dash from 0-100km/h takes just 5.6-seconds, verified with a launch control start to the speed limit on a quiet back road.
Next on the test schedule was the 125TDI which produces 125kW and 350Nm. I know what you’re thinking and I was thinking the same thing before I stepped in to drive. Surely a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel would be against the ethos of this car.
The story changes after you begin driving though. Again, coupled with the six-speed DSG gearbox, the 125TDI is prepared to move if you proposition it.
Moving off the line causes a slight stutter while the diesel gets moving and hits boost. This becomes a bit frustrating if you are stuck in stop-start traffic, but can be managed with conservative throttle input.
At highway speeds, it is astonishing how quiet this engine is. Even under partial throttle, it’s hard to pick it’s actually a diesel engine under the bonnet.
Lay down the commanding foot and a long third and fourth gear move the car with a wave of torque until each following gear is selected. The end result is surprising mid-range urge from a small capacity turbo-diesel engine.
The only problem lies when attacking a few corners. Powering only the front wheels, the Passat CC tends to fly into a corner with great urge, but struggles to exit the corner with the same urge. More body roll and the lack of a limited-slip differential inhibit the front-wheel-drive oil-burner from really making its mark.
In fact, it would have been great to see the V6 diesel out of the Touareg plonked into the Passat CC, then linked to the all-wheel-drive system to create an Audi A6 stalking luxo diesel-cruiser.
Fuel efficiency and carbon emissions favour the diesel with an amazing 6.3L/100km and 166g/km respectively. The test vehicle read 1100km+ when we left our second stop, meaning the diesel variant of the Passat CC is the perfect option for frugal buyers.
Getting from 0-100km/h takes around 8.6-seconds – not bad for an oil-burner!
Volkswagen Australia’s CEO, Jutta Dierks, told the congregated media pack that the new Volkswagen Passat CC is being released with an unprecedented amount of features as standard fit. On top of the standard equipment, there’s the options list which features things unseen before across the Volkswagen range.
One of the most impressive features of the new Passat CC are technologically advanced tyres from Continental which laugh in the face of nails and other nasty road objects that destroy tyres.
The new Continental Mobility rubber fitted to the Passat CC has an inner material which can mould around a nail (for example) inserted into the tyre. Once removed, the inner material seals the hole with the inner pressure of the tyre to create a seal which won’t leak and allows the driver to keep driving the vehicle.
Demonstrated to us with a drill, the Continental Mobility tyres can withstand an object of up to 5mm in diameter. A hole was drilled into a conventional tyre and it began hissing in a fit of leaking air, flattening the tyre within minutes.
The Mobility tyre on the other hand did nothing when the drill was removed from the tyre. Upon physical inspection, you could see where the internal resin had created a seal around the pierced hole.
This type of tyre negates the need for a conventional spare tyre in most circumstances and also reduces the sometimes unbearable ride of run-flat tyres fitted to most BMW vehicles.
Volkswagen was also very keen to introduce their radar cruise control to the media, available as an option on the Passat CC. The radar cruise control system varies the distance between the vehicle and the vehicle in front, adjustable via the cruise control stalk in the cabin.
Also on the option list is climate controlled front seats which emit cooled air around the buttocks and back, helping infinitely on hot days.
Individually heated front and rear seats on the other hand help keep the leather warm on cold starts, fitted as standard equipment.
Introduced on the Tiguan last year, Park Assist is also available as an option on the Passat CC. Park Assist works with sensors attached to the car to literally park the car with no driver steering input, perfect for drivers inept with parking. It's so good that I took a couple of quick videos of the technology in action at the launch.
Safety features include electronic aids such as ABS, EBD, BA and ESP. A total of eight airbags are fitted, including dual driver and front passenger airbags; driver and front passenger side airbags; rear passenger side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags.
Although it’s yet to be officially tested, the Passat CC is expected to receive a five-star EuroNCAP rating.
What’s it worth? I’m sure you’re wondering!
Surprisingly, the Passat CC is very affordable. Priced from $54,990 for the 125TDI and $65,990 for the V6 4MOTION FSI, I expect these things will sell like hot cakes.
Around half way through writing this article, I realised that not only does the Passat CC use the same engine as the Passat R36; it weighs less, is marginally quicker, looks better and has more features.
Why on earth would you buy the R36 when you could possibly own this for the same price?
Without doubt, this is one of the best cars from Volkswagen yet and is a positive indication of things to come. Bring on the performance variant of the Passat CC, on all counts, it’s sure to be ballistic.