2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen of Canada

Review and photos by Tony Whitney

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2009 Volkswagen Passat CC

Munich, Germany – One of the more interesting additions to the world of automobiles over the past few years was the 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLS – mainly because it was claimed when launched to be “the world’s first four-door coupe.” There was much controversy and discussion over whether any coupe could have four doors, regardless of styling, but the car was widely acclaimed when it debuted and today, it is one of the best-selling cars at the upper end of Mercedes’ luxury sedan range.

To many industry observers, including this writer, it was something of a surprise that the stunningly beautiful CLS (updated for 2009, incidentally) wasn’t immediately imitated by rival luxury car manufacturers. It was as though these rivals thought that Mercedes-Benz had done such a good job with the car, it couldn’t be bettered.

2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC; top photo courtesy VW. Click image to enlarge

Until recently that is.

The response has come not from BMW or Audi as expected, but from Volkswagen, which is bringing us the Passat CC for 2009. With a roofline some 50 mm (two-inches) lower than that of its sedan equivalent plus very sleek and swoopy curves to go with that, the CC certainly has coupe-like lines, but like the CLS, retains the convenience of four doors. To enhance the look even further, the new car is also a little longer and wider than a standard Passat.

The CC looks so different from its Passat stablemate that media people at the world launch in Munich were saying that it should have had a new name altogether. Be that as it may, the car will be sold here (and in Europe) under the Passat CC banner, though in the U.S. it will be plain “CC.” In case you’re wondering, VW says that CC stands for Comfort Coupe. Whatever designation it carries, most people are likely to agree that is probably the best-looking VW sedan ever built.

Despite that lowered roofline, it doesn’t look as though it’s been “chopped” like the late and stylistically disastrous Volvo Bertone. The proportions are very attractive and the 4.8-metre long CC has a nice stance on the road with its 17-inch alloy wheels. I’d doubt that many body panels from the standard Passat made it to the CC, it looks that different. Perhaps the only enhancement VW could have made would have been to somehow disguise the rear door handles the way Alfa Romeo did with its coupe-like 156 model, which cleverly hides the handles in the C-pillar.

2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC; photo courtesy VW. Click image to enlarge

At any event, this is a handsome car that might well attract buyers to the VW brand who have looked on its products as being rather bland from a styling standpoint. The nose certainly presents VW’s current “corporate face” but that’s going to be fine with most buyers. Perhaps the whole front end design effect is a little more unified with the CC than it is with other models in the VW range.

For the Canadian market, there will be two engines to choose from, both familiar to anyone who’s looked at buying a VW product, or owns one already. The base unit is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder putting out 200-horsepower. This proved to be a very satisfying power unit in the foothills close to the mountains of southern Bavaria and surprisingly torquey for its size. It’s very economical too with a combined European fuel economy rating of 7.9 litres/100 km. VW says it will top 100 km/h in around 7.6-seconds and top speed is given as 237 km/h. A CC I drove with this engine left me with the feeling that this should be the top seller, given today’s emphasis on economy. After all there wasn’t much of a performance sacrifice really.

2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC; top photo courtesy VW. Click image to enlarge

The other engine we’ll get is the 3.6-litre V6 which is understandably more potent than the “four.” With 280 horsepower, the zero to 100 km/h time is given as 5.6 seconds, which is certainly serious performance territory. Top speed, if you can find an Autobahn, is claimed to be 250 km/h – and it’s automatically limited to that, so it’s probably even faster. On one run on the Munich Salzburg Autobahn (which has stretches with no speed limit), I found that this top speed was certainly within reach. The bottom line here is that VW has striven to create a car that not only looks good, it goes and handles too. Average (European standard) fuel economy for the V6 Passat is 10.1-litres/100 km, which really isn’t too bad at all.

As far as transmissions go, in this country the CC will come with a six-speed manual or six-speed auto in four-cylinder turbo form and a six-speed automatic if you opt for a V6. Incidentally, all V6 CCs come with 4Motion all-wheel drive in Canada. Other markets get a TDI diesel, but there’s no word that this will ever make it here.

As with any new upscale car or SUV/CUV these days, the CC boasts a wide range of electronic stability control and safety features. New for Volkswagen is a lane-assist system, a feature which seems to have found wide popularity in recent times. There’s also a parking-assist system available and “front assist” for braking distance reduction. Several vehicles around the world have these systems in one form or another, but this seems to be the first time VW has packed so much advanced technology into one product.

2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC; interior photo courtesy VW. Click image to enlarge

Other innovations include a huge electrically-powered transparent sunroof, which is very wide end extends from windshield to B pillar. It can also be pivoted upwards. This large sunroof is 750 mm long and 1,120 mm wide and when it’s open the car seems almost like a convertible. As is now becoming quite common, there’s an interface for iPods and other MP3 players. Title information is shown on the dash display and the player is actuated by controls on the steering wheel.

The CC rides on a suspension similar to that of the basic Passat, but some interesting engineering touches seem to have improved handling quite a bit. Most impressive, though, is this car’s refinement. It’s surprisingly comfortable and smooth, even on poor road surfaces and had me thinking “Lexus” as soon as I took off on my first CC drive. In recent years, even the least expensive VWs have become very refined and even silky, but this new model takes that a stage further.

Volkswagen has been doing excellent things with vehicle interiors for years and I’ve always admired the choices its designers make with regard to materials and textures. It’s a no-nonsense cockpit and refreshingly gimmick-free – an environment people who really love to drive their car will appreciate. There’s liberal use of (now almost obligatory!) polished aluminum – or something that looks like aluminum – and some interesting and attractive wood grain trim, but this is applied in excellent taste with no excesses. The seats are comfortable and supportive and I thought that there was more room in the back than there is with the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz CLS. There are just two individualized seats in the rear of the CC, so this is not a five-seater sedan. Despite the reduced roof height, interior headroom doesn’t seem to have been affected at all so most likely the seating has been lowered somehow.

This is a very interesting car and should find lots of appeal for people who already own a “lesser” VW model and would like to move up. Because of its fresh and original styling (and VWs unique attributes) it’s also likely to attract buyers from other import nameplates. It’ll be some time before VW announces prices for the CC, which arrives later this year, but this is an upscale car and will likely cost a little more than a fully loaded Passat sedan, which is currently in the $50,000 range.

Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen of Canada

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