x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Road test: 2014 Volkswagen CC V6

The latest version of VW’s coupé is an impressive proposition, writes Kevin Hackett.

The Volkswagen CC V6 may be based on the slightly more ordinary VW Passat, but it’s a sleek, lithe coupé with plenty of plus points. Courtesy Volkswagen
The Volkswagen CC V6 may be based on the slightly more ordinary VW Passat, but it’s a sleek, lithe coupé with plenty of plus points. Courtesy Volkswagen

Before you say anything, I know. This isn’t exactly a new car, but seeing as though every single plan I’ve had to drive it has been thwarted for one reason or another, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to finally get behind the wheel of a car that has, since the day it was launched in 2008, bowled me over by its sheer gorgeousness. Seriously, swap that VW badge for one with a roundel or a three-pointed star and you’d never, not in a million years, think it was actually a Vee-dub.

Little wonder, then, that its maker dropped the “Passat” from its moniker in 2012. The Passat, as decent a car as it is, is just too ordinary to be associated with this sleek, lithesome coupé, yet that’s exactly what the CC is based on. (Comfort Coupé is what those two letters stand for.) When the styling was (brilliantly) refreshed two years ago, Volkswagen stated that it offered the dynamics of a sports car – something that journalists at the time scoffed at. So I’m not expecting an involving drive, despite the on-paper promises of its appetite-whetting specification.

Yes, that engine is a creamy V6. A V6 that displaces 3.6L and puts 300hp onto the road via a full-time four-wheel-drive transmission and a twin-clutch sequential gearbox, getting the car from rest to 100kph in just six seconds. Normally those sorts of facts and figures are enough to get enthusiasts frothing at the mouth, but the CC is probably going to be more relaxed tourer than out-and-out sportster.

The CC’s interior certainly ups the touring-vibe quota, being elegant and simple in its design and layout. Lots of nice, soft-touch plastics and quality leather cover practically every surface, although there are unseemly areas of nasty, hard stuff on lower levels, such as on the front passenger-side glovebox. An analogue clock sits bang in the centre of the dashboard, which is a nice touch, and a slim swath of timber breaks up the mass of the dash and the door caps. It’s an unashamedly luxurious cabin, there’s no denying it, and there’s plenty of room for rear occupants, despite the lower roofline, but it still seems a bit too generic VW to me. I recognise many of the design cues from my own Scirocco, and, with the CC’s exterior being so distinctive and different, it’s a shame that approach could not have been extended to its innards.

Thankfully, the dashboard incorporates a slot for the hefty key fob, so it isn’t rattling around in the centre-console storage box. Press it in and hold it, and the engine starts with a rather muted growl. If only, I say to myself, I could shoehorn this motor under the bonnet of my own car – so much potential and power in such a small package would surely be riotous. Back to the matter in hand, though, and the CC is able to pootle around city streets in total silence and comfort, further distancing itself from any sporting ­pretensions.

What initially disappoints, once I get the CC onto a decent stretch of open road, is its rather ponderous feel. Surely 300 horses should feel more urgent than this – the torque curve peaks at just 2,400rpm, when 350Nm of twist is being deployed, but it just doesn’t feel all that quick, perhaps because that peak power is at a heady 6,200rpm. Still, it sounds really nice when the taps are opened, with a pleasing soundtrack that’s unmistakably V6. It sounds – how do I put this? – strong. However, it’s only when I knock the gear shifter down into Sport mode that the performance matches the aural witchcraft.

In this driving mode, there’s a huge difference in the car’s responses to throttle inputs – much more so than in my own car when I do the same thing. It’s more urgent across the rev range and holds onto gears until the bitter end, making for properly rapid movement when the hammer is down. It also manages to shine on roads that have actual bends in them, with spring rates that are just the right side of firm to afford impressive and confidence-inspiring levels of grip, although it’s still no sports car. It doesn’t need to be.

What the CC is, is an accomplished, well-appointed and supremely well-engineered slice of classic style. It doesn’t actually need four-wheel drive – especially in this part of the world – and this does, indeed, rob it of some fleet-footedness because of the incurred weight penalty. What it needs is an open road, where the impressive punch from that silky engine can do its stuff.

It’s a relief to me, after all these years wanting to experience one, that the CC doesn’t disappoint. It’s not perfect, naturally, but it makes an extremely strong case for itself as a glamorous motor car that rarely puts a foot wrong. Beauty isn’t always skin deep and the CC V6 proves that beyond doubt. When I grow up, I might consider buying one myself.

khackett@thenational.ae

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