Review: Volkswagen Passat CC

I know what you are thinking-”Hm. Another attempt by VW to go upscale. Can’t they just leave that market for Audi?” For the better part of the past decade, VW has tried to move its brand upmarket. In North America at least, the results have been a catastrophe. Few buyers could be found for the pricey but visually indistinguishable eight cylinder Passat. The ultra-expensive Phaeton, designed to compete against the best from BMW, Audi and Mercedes, was a sales dud.

This time around, VW has nailed it. Partial credit goes to Mercedes-Benz. In 2005, the CLS class was introduced-a four door based on E-Class mechanicals, but styled and marketed as a four door coupe. In 2009, VW borrowed the same recipe-take an existing chassis and drivetrain (the Passat), and wrap it in a swoopy, sexy four door coupe profile. The Passat CC (the CC stands for Comfort Coupe) is born. It sounds simple enough, but as a package, the CC is simply the best mid-size car VW has ever produced.

The CC doesn’t overwhelm you with its appearance, and after a week with the car I cannot point to any one detail that especially impresses me, but taken as a whole, the CC is just stunning. The car reeks of class that belies its base price of under $29,000USD. For all the cars I have reviewed for The Garage, only the Chevy Camaro beats out the CC for people approaching me wanting to know more about the car. In an era where so much value is placed on utility, pulling up in a Passat CC announces loud and clear that it’s OK to trade in a little practicality for some style. There is a sense of occasion in the CC that is missing in the Passat, and the fact that VW can pull this off at this price point is reason to smile.

Our CC was the mid-level Luxury model, equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged inline four rated at 200hp coupled to a six-speed automatic. One look at the leviathan CC, and a glance at the spec sheet, I wondered if this car had enough power to get out of its own way. The CC, to my surprise, has plenty of pep off the line. Merging onto highway traffic and passing power was never an issue. Under hard acceleration, the sounds from the engine room did nothing to increase my heart rate, but was never harsh or intrusive either. Where the CC shined was highway cruising. Holding a steady 80mph, the CC is whisper quiet and solid as a rock, true to its autobahn upbringing. This is a car you could push all day at that speed and never tire of it.

The Passat CC is a true German sedan, so she can handle. While she doesn’t go like a Jetta GLI, the CC is composed through the corners, never sloppy. The steering had a nice weight to it, but a slight lack of road feel reminds you VW engineers tuned this a little closer to luxury than sport. Our tester was a 2009 with a six-speed automatic, but for 2010, that transmission has been replaced with a 6-speed twin clutch DSG that should prove as a definite upgrade.

VW has a reputation for outstanding interiors, and the CC gives credence to that. Everything you touch has a quality feel. The seats are not only gorgeous to look at, but they offer great support, adjustability, and hold you tight when you crank it up. Gauges and displays are crystal clear, and it only takes a moment to situate yourself in the car and go. At night, the center console is bathed in a soft, amber light, highlighting the alloy trim. This is an interior that can easily stand up to cars costing $10-$15,000 more.

Strangely, it was the options or  extra features on our tester that failed to impress, or took away from the car. The navigation system was on the clunky side, and at one time was actually directing me away from where I wanted to go. I joked that the voice commands were a bit stern-”Turn right…NOW!” The Park Assist feature was very intrusive, too sensitive, and seldom useful. For an extra grand, we also had the Dynaudio premium sound system. At normal volume sound quality was decent, but if you prefer to go loud once in a while, the depth and quality of sound I expected just wasn’t there. Also, I’ve never had a car with satellite radio that lost signal as often as the CC.

One final complaint, and this is no joke. I say this as a parent. With my 3-1/2 year old son strapped snug in his car seat, he had total access to not only unlock his door, but open it while I was doing 75mph on the highway. For what it’s worth, the VW has a child lock you can activate, but still…

Minor complaints aside, this car is one solid effort by VW. I am even tempted to say this car has the potential to be a future cult collectable. I am not suggesting in fifty years the Pebble Beach Concours will be filled with CC’s, but there is a beauty, and a romance of what a four door can be if you let your designers off the leash a bit, and the Passat CC embodies that spirit perfectly. For sure, some buyers will be turned off that this car only seats four, and the design loses some trunk space. But the Passat CC is not meant for everyone. For those who want the sexiness of the Mercedes CLS at a fraction of the cost, the VW Passat CC is the one, and only answer.

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Comments

  1. Adrian Balkham says

    I have had a Passatt CC for 10 months and although I think it is a great looking car I have been constantly dissapointed with the ride. From day one I have found that there is a tremour in the car through the suspension which spoils the ride. I drove another one at the dealers and it was exactly the same and with the sports button switched on to adjust the suspension it was like driving over rocks. I had the car check several times by the master technician at the dealers and they said it was how the suspension was set up. I then had the top technician from VW U.K. come on a test drive with me and he said the same. To me it seems that VW couldn’t make their minds up if they should have a stiff sports suspension or a softer comfort suspension and ended up with something in between that doesn’t work. Even today I do not enjoy the reaction of the suspension on the road and how it transmits through the vehicle.
    I would welcome any comments as to your experience and views on the ride.

    • says

      Adrian, unfortunately every vehicle has it’s own unique characteristics. Some of these characteristics are unacceptable to a very small number of drivers. These normal conditions may ruin the experience for those very few individuals. Because these conditions affect so few people, it does not make sense for a manufacturer to attempt to rectify it. Just like anything else in life, you can make most people happy most of the time, but you will never make everybody happy all of the time.

  2. Tom Horton says

    Adrian, The “S” on the transmission is a Sport mode for the transmission NOT the suspension. Depending on the type of roads you are driving on, the suspension is meant to have you feel the road. I have sold over 20 CC’s and all of my customers have been happy with the ride and especially the handling. Several of my customers traded out of their 3 & 5 series BMW’s as well as C Class Mercedes. One client two nights ago traided out of his Lexus and has put over 300 miles on it and reports comfortable and fun driving, something his Lexus did not give him.

    • Lyudmil L says

      Tom in UK they have different set up and you can actualy choose how the suspension reacts! I guess you dont know that much about the CC after all. I am VW owner of 2006 Passat and I will probably never buy the CC simply bcoz of how horrible my Passat is and how ignorant VW service is( apparently not only in US but in UK as well) and from what I hear from $45k(most expensive CC in US) owners the CC is no different then my Passas in turms of 15 repairs in the first 2 years! And Mr. Balkham I hope everything gets better for you and if it comes down to that SUE them! DO NOT hesitate VW have showen they can't care less about their customers why should you?

  3. Debbie H says

    I have a Passatt CC 201 and could not be happier. I have had no problems at all. Runs smooth, effortless on the highway with all the bells and whistles you'd expect in a higher priced car. I love the looks I get when driving by. Very elegant car, classy styling and so far quite reliable.

  4. Alex says

    Compre el nuevo 2010 cc r line 2 moths ago y estoy muy contento por el desempeo del carro, escuche muchas historias hacerca de los vw echos o ensamblados en america (most places like Mexico ) , el 2010 esta echo y ensamblado en Alemaia, cual me dio un mejor sabor de boca por lo avasado que esta la tegnologia europea v/s america. Me sorprendio la suspencion, muy adecuada inclusive cuando tiene rodada 18", la suspencion es muy adecuada y comfortable para ser a CC, el motor responde inmediatamente cuando lo nesecitas, son tantas las cosas que uno tiene que checar en el manual, no sera el carro perfecto , pero para 29k+ no me puedo quejar, para aquellos que desean un mejor suspencion o transmicion o lo que sea , porque no compran un carro like a Mercedes 50k+ y aun asi no estaran satisfechos por algo en lo absoluto.
    Me encanta en el CC , diseno , power 200hp , que solo es para 4 pasajeros (por eso es sport segun yo , que quede claro ok ), el estero 6 cd changer , satellite radio( en ocaciones pierde senal menos de un segundo pero si tiene que mejorar en algun futuro), puedo quedarme a qui y escribir la historia de mi vida , pero al final del camino es solo mia, cuando tes drive este carro , solo es por 10 mins. y te encantara, cuando lo tengas en tu garage, no bas a querer que lo toque ni el polvo o la ojas que se caen de los arboles, creanme , una pesadilla NO tiene un final feliz y esta historia no es una de ellas.
    i love my car….

  5. Alex says

    Compre el nuevo 2010 cc r line 2 moths ago y estoy muy contento por el desempeo del carro, escuche muchas historias hacerca de los vw echos o ensamblados en america (most places like Mexico ) , el 2010 esta echo y ensamblado en Alemaia, cual me dio un mejor sabor de boca por lo avasado que esta la tegnologia europea v/s america. Me sorprendio la suspencion, muy adecuada inclusive cuando tiene rodada 18", la suspencion es muy adecuada y comfortable para ser a CC, el motor responde inmediatamente cuando lo nesecitas, son tantas las cosas que uno tiene que checar en el manual, no sera el carro perfecto , pero para 29k+ no me puedo quejar, para aquellos que desean un mejor suspencion o transmicion o lo que sea , porque no compran un carro like a Mercedes 50k+ y aun asi no estaran satisfechos por algo en lo absoluto.

  6. Binoy A. Mathew says

    I've been driving the CC for about a year and a half and totally blown away by it. The driving experience has been great (I don't mean to say its a great handler in the same way as a s2000 or sports coupe). But everytime I drive it away from the lights, its just truly amazing. I think there is hardly anything around, for this price that could compete with such elegance and style, that genuinely makes people's heads turn.

    The Audi A7, which I believe is in the same vein, looks so dull and quite the opposite of the CC, only from the outside, the interiors of the A7 look great.

  7. vw convert says

    Have been driving my 2011 2.0TSI (petrol) DSG Passat CC for the last 2 months and I have to say that it's amazing! My friends who drive BMW 3-series and even a Mercedes salesman have been awed and impressed by its performance and ride, especially the comfort of the back seats. Heads constantly turn to look as I pass, and this is the first car I've owned that has actually made total strangers come up to me and ask me about it.

    As a previous Audi owner, I can say that the adaptive suspension in the Passat is definitely better than that in the A4, and ride smoother – and much better seats in the Passat too! Loving it!

  8. tony says

    These reviews have been really helpful…I love the look of the cc and have been thinking of buying one. Its between that and the c class. if anyone has a comparison , let me know.

  9. Kanesh says

    Hi, I just got one in January 2012, I’m facing the same problem of tremor from the suspension. It dissapoints me because I don’t feel comfort. I send it to the service Center and after 1 week I got back the car with the same sound. I thought the suspension is faulty until I read this article today. I’m sure VW have receive feedback from its customers but why there is no solution to it. Can someone help me to overcome it.

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