Road Test Volkswagen's new CC 2.0TSI is a great compromise car as it has something for everyone.
The double life of the Consistently Convincing Volkswagen CC
Classy Car. Comfortable Coupé. Clever Casing. Creative Concept. Copied ... There are plenty of phrases that spring to mind for Volkswagen's new CC, but despite the firm's assurance that it stands for Coupé Concept, we have an inkling it could mean much more than that.
Originally unveiled in 2008, the CC was billed as the first truly affordable four-door coupé, its only real competitor being the more expensive Mercedes-Benz CLS. Since then Volkswagen has sold more than 320,000 units worldwide, showing that, despite being based on the humble Passat saloon, the CC captured plenty of people's imaginations. So when it came time to create the new CC, VW decided that, it not being broken meant there was little point in spending a lot of time and money trying to fix it.
Some may view that as a cop-out, a nod to money saving and the recession that has hit much of the world. And at first glance, where the new model looks incredibly similar to the old, that could be justified. But sit back and examine the shape and you'll soon realise that, despite its familiarity, this is a model that still stands out.
You see, this CC (the Passat moniker has been ditched) is no carbon copy, there have indeed been some comprehensive changes along the way. Up front, the once rounded headlights have been replaced with sleek straight-lined units, and the once plunging grille is now much more horizontal. Character lines from the bonnet now drop into the air dam, framing the fog lights before sliding back up the length of the car through the doors. It's these doors that are the most familiar though, the frameless units carried over directly from the previous model. Of course there are a few changes at the rear as well, the elliptical lights replaced with LED units more in keeping with the sharper front items.
The exterior isn't the only area to go under the knife though, with the cabin following the lines of the recently replaced Passat. It's all very familiar in there, with both the basic architecture and much of the detailing shared with the regular saloon. Still, as you'd expect, it's well-appointed, logically laid out and incredibly well-screwed together. There's plenty of space, both in the front and rear - the latter offering a choice of three-seat bench or pair of individually sculpted seats. Regardless of the option chosen, headroom does suffer because of that sleek roof line. Opt for the full-sized alloy wheel and boot space takes a tumble from 532 litres to a still practical 452, but all models get folding rear seats with new one-touch controls. Also standard is a great choice of engines, ranging in size and power. The best all-rounder is another familiar part, the 2.0L turbocharged unit with 210hp, closely related to the engine found in the Golf GTI. Smooth and keen to rev, it is able to entertain or calm in equal measure.
At light throttle openings and relaxed cruising speeds the extra sound deadening and thicker glass on this new CC ensure the engine note remains muted. Yet extend the revs to tackle your favourite corners and it takes on a sporty but unobtrusive snarl.
GT models benefit from standard fit adaptive dampers as well, the three modes (comfort, normal and sport) make your choice of response only a touch of a button away. Of course, don't expect even the most hard-core mode to transform this car into a giant-killing GT car; the CC always errs on the soft side of focused.
The standard fit XDS electronic differential does play its part though, tightening the line through a bend if you attack it too quickly, but those looking for real fun and involvement should look elsewhere. And it's the lifeless, but light, steering that is prime culprit for this. The easy-going helm makes in-town action easier, but at higher speeds it doesn't inspire confidence and dulls the whole experience.
As ever, the dual-clutch DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) is the star of the show. Every change is executed elegantly and efficiently.
But though it's smooth when left to its own devices, using the paddle shifters gives you fast reaction to driver input too.
So just what is the Volkswagen CC - is it simply a Coupé Concept or does its depth of talents extend further than the name suggests? Well, like the very best features of the automotive landscape, it is a car that can be whatever you want it to be.
For those willing to sacrifice a little practicality the CC's extra style simply adds to its appeal. Comfortable for the family and classy enough for the club, if ever there was a car that could live a double life the Volkswagen CC, or Consistently Convincing car really is it.
Base price Dh105,788
Engine 2.0L four-cylinder turbo
Gearbox Six-speed DSG
Power 210hp @ 5,300rpm
Torque 280Nm @ 1,700rpm
Fuel economy, combined 7.8L/100km