VW CC: Drive Review

19th October 2012

Reviewed by Michael Woodhouse

Television is full of reality shows these days: people either wanting to be the next big thing in pop music, on the catwalk or anywhere else that will make them some money. And why not? No one wants to be stuck in a drab life, merely going through the motions until the day comes when a very tall apparition in a black cloak holding a scythe comes along and takes you away for eternity. Much better to have a showbiz makeover and come out refreshed, reinvigorated and paint the town red.

It doesn’t just work for humans either. While the X Factor attempts to turn the great unknowns of the general public into the next singing sensation, Volkswagen has been trying a similar thing with its run of the mill saloon car, the Passat.

Just don’t call it a Passat any more; it’s the CC.

After selling many millions of the salesman’s favourite car, the VW management decided that it needed a new image: less drab and far sexier.

You’ve undoubtedly overtaken a Passat countless times on the road and never noticed. Why would you? Like all things pre-makeover, you wouldn’t be aware them even if they hit you from behind. They’re very good at disappearing into the mass ranks. But a nip here and a tuck there and things stand out a lot more.

VW, in its own words, has turned the Passat into something elegant and even exciting. And it’s worked. In X Factor terms think Leona Lewis, rather than Alexandra Burke.

The VW CC is a curvaceous coupé and, considering its heritage, is actually quite distinctive and refreshing to look at. Where its saloon forebear is practical but dull, the CC looks fun and frisky.

VW first launched the new vehicle in 2008, but mistakenly called it the Passat CC… thankfully it dropped the ‘Passat’ part of the name at the end of last year, when the car was given a refresh.

So now it looks as though it should be on stage, with a million lights dazzling down on it, hogging the limelight. I promise I’m not over-egging the pudding here; a quick drive to a country pub through the Kent country-side saw more heads turned to catch a second glimpse of the CC than I achieve driving much more exotic vehicles.

But everything isn’t completely rosy in the garden of England. While the CC looks good from the outside the drive is tedious; it smoothes out the bumps and does what you ask it when you turn the steering wheel but isn’t as much fun as the car’s looks suggest it should be. Even the 2-litre diesel engine which produces 170hp of power and 350Nm of torque doesn’t make you smile (although you can feel smug because of the fuel economy – a healthy 51.4mpg).

And the interior? It’s identical to the saloon, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I enjoyed the massage function in the driver’s seat, but it isn’t exactly pop-tastic glamour.

No, scratch below the surface of the CC and you find that the makeover hasn’t been a complete success. Like many who attempt to claw their way out of the daily drudge on TV talent shows discover, a change of clothes and a new hairdo don’t make you a superstar.

Price: from £24,395
Model tested: 2.0-litre TDI
Top speed: 137mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Power: 170hp
Fuel economy: 51.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 144g/km

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