Sector: Upper medium Price: £24,200 – £30,100 Fuel: 36.2 – 60.1mpg CO2: 125-182g/km
It’s not so long ago that the idea of a coupe version of the Passat would have sounded like a complete misnomer. Though the four previous generations were unquestionably well-built, comfortable and reliable family carriers, Volkswagen’s saloon had never been a car that really turned heads. And then the first CC model arrived in 2008, and things changed.
Styled with more fluidity than the rest of the range, it was very well received. Ironically, having done such a good job of holding its own, it was only ever a matter of time before it got brought in line.
Though it sounds like a predominantly private-sector buy, its real success has been in fleet. Some 82.5% of the outgoing car’s sales were in the corporate sector, almost identical to the 83.5% of saloon and 83.9% of estate models. The difference is, it undoubtedly netted plenty of image-conscious drivers who wouldn’t otherwise have considered a Passat.
But even Volkswagen admits this did present it with a problem of identity. Whereas the Scirocco has its own niche within the range, instead of being badged as a Golf Coupe, the Passat CC felt closely linked to the common Passat. Yet, like the Scirocco, there was visually very little similarity.
This has been rectified with the new car, which is now simply badged CC – as the old model was in North America and South Africa. The Passat badge, meanwhile, is saved for the more utilitarian standard car and its forthcoming AllTrack soft off-road sibling.
Although now more serious looking, there is more Phaeton than Passat in the new car’s styling thanks to the thick-slatted grille and straight-cut front and rear lights. Though it’s not quite as distinctive as the old car’s there’s a neat subtlety to the overall look that retains its desirability, and is a well-executed attempt at moving the car upmarket. The launch test route included a brief drive through Monaco, and amid the high-rise hotels, stretch limousines and designer handbags the CC felt totally at home.
Where the family resemblance comes through most is inside. The dashboard is lifted straight from the saloon, but with better designed door cards and higher quality trim inserts it still has that high class feel. Supportive leather seats and a high level of standard equipment – now including a touchscreen sat nav unit with DAB radio and Bluetooth – all contribute too.
This is to say nothing for the options list, which includes clever headlamps that automatically adjust to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic but without dipping completely, heated and cooled seats and the same low-speed accident avoidance system as the up! city car.
But perhaps the best bits that it brings across from the saloon are its choice of engines. There are no 1.6-litre diesels, but the familiar 2.0-litre units are carried across. In 138bhp form, this allows the CC to nudge just over 60mpg, while the 168bhp unit has a noticeably wider power band than the old version. Both emit less than 130g/km of CO2, at 125 and 129g/km respectively, and are available with a DSG gearbox which now features steering wheel paddles for the first time – an odd omission from its predecessor.
So, like the Scirocco, the CC now feels like a model in its own right. A car which no longer needs the Passat name to place itself, and one which provides an affordable upmarket option for fleets.
The outgoing model was an unexpected corporate powerhouse for tying that Passat dependability and efficiency into a sharper-driving and better looking coupe. This refresh does little to deviate, simply taking the concept further upmarket rather than revolutionising a formula that alre