The Volkswagen Passat has always been one of Volkswagen’s most successful models. While it may be sensible, Volkswagen felt there was a need for a more exciting alternative to its family sedan. After watching the success of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Volkswagen saw an opportunity to produce a mainstream four door coupe. Volkswagen launched the Passat CC (Comfort Coupe) in 2008. The Passat CC intended to give buyers a German, stylish, and affordable sedan. Even though the Passat CC sold lower than Volkswagen’s expectations, the Passat CC influenced the family sedan market. Other family sedans such as the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion started adopting the swoopy roofline and a sportier look. Refreshed for 2012, the Passat CC underwent a name change to CC as well as exterior and interior updates.
The Passat CC never faltered in the styling department, and the 2012 refresh does little to dispute that. It is elegant with a shapely body and attractive lights. You literally note how detailed the CC is in terms of design. One detail that caught my eye was how the trunk molds slightly to create a tapered rear. The rear and the side profile are well done. My only gripe is with the front. The grille is slightly too fussy for my taste. Other than that, the CC is upscale and sleek. The interior has a sporty feel to it. The analogue clock and the use of chrome give it a classy decor.
Despite being softened for America compared to the European models, the CC barely disguises its German roots. The steering is direct, and it has a good heft to it. The CC is more agile than you would think. It understeers a bit at the limit, but it is balanced for a front wheel drive sedan. It remains composed in corners thanks to restrained body lean. The steering is quick enough for twisty roads, but not to the point that it becomes twitchy on the highway. The ride is supple. It is not as floaty as the Passat sedan, but it is still comfortable.
The R-Line version comes with the 2.0 turbocharged four cylinder engine. With 200 horsepower on tap, the CC feels quick. Turbo lag is nonexistent, and power delivery is smooth and linear. The six speed manual transmission helps the turbocharged four cylinder make the most out of its power. The gear ratios are well spaced, and the shifter is light. Despite its long travel, the clutch is one of the best I have experienced. It has excellent feel. On the drive, I came to a stop on a hill, and I was able to rely on the clutch’s feel to prevent me from rolling back too much and stalling. With the manual transmission, fuel economy is decent at 21 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
The R-Line version upgrades the standard 17 inch wheels to 18 inch wheels. These bigger wheels let in some road noise. It is very quiet with virtually no wind noise, even at highway speeds. The engine grumbles at low revs, but the turbo lets out a satisfying whine when floored.
Typical for a Volkswagen, fit and finish is flawless. There are soft touch surfaces abound, and there is meticulous attention to detail. The doors close with an assuring thunk, and the controls feel well lubricated and solid. The gauges are simple and easy to read. The touch screen can appear to be daunting initially, but it is actually very intuitive. It responds quickly, and it is accurate. The climate control system is separate from the touch screen, and it is logically laid out. One notable flaw that I noticed is the blank buttons. The blank buttons located on the center console by the shifter remind you of the features that you missed out on. The seats are comfortable, and it is easy to get comfortable. Visibility is good out front, but in the rear, it is marred by the sloping roofline. The rear is somewhat roomy, but headroom is lacking. The trunk is large. Cabin storage is adequate.
To sum up, the CC is stylish, fun to drive, and classy. I always value subtlety over flash, and the Volkswagen delivers on that note. Whenever I drive a Volkswagen, I am always reminded of what it is like to drive European. You feel like you are driving a different car than the norm. Whereas German cars are becoming more complicated and focused on technology, the CC is refreshingly simple. It is genuinely good to drive, and coupled with the smooth manual transmission, the CC is a car that you drive just to drive. The fact that it is good looking, and well made adds to its appeal. It can also accommodate a family in reasonable comfort (If you want more room, look at the Passat). It makes you proud to drive a Volkswagen.