The Volkswagen badge doesn’t tarnish easily these days. The brand is both acknowledged and admired around the world, and it produces an array of vehicles representing a comprehensive selection of segments. The Volskwagen CC is not only the flagship of the brand, but also boxes above its weight, as DEON SCHOEMAN finds out.
There are two ways would-be buyers may consider the purchase of a new car – with their head, or with their heart.
South Africans tend to be more emotional about buying cars than their more pragmatic European counterparts, perhaps because we are so reliant on our vehicles, the distances we travel are so great and those automotive steeds are considered a symbol of success – or lack thereof.
Against that backdrop, the Volkswagen CC (as in Comfort Coupé) has a tough task. It competes in the premium sector, yet wears a mass-market badge.
Of course, VW would like to think it’s a step ahead of other volume producers as far as image, quality and style are concerned. But in the context of the Volkswagen Group, it’s Audi that commands the premium ground.
That hasn’t stopped VW from targeting the CC squarely at the discerning car buyer. It argues that the CC offers the style, comfort, space and presence of a mid-sized luxury contender, but at a price comparable with entry-level sedans from the so-called premium brands.
In other words, it’s adding a powerful value proposition to the equation. In fact, those able to ignore the fact that this is a Volkswagen, and who consider the CC without any status-infused bias, will quickly realise that the this is a sleek, sophisticated – and yes, upmarket – machine.
Like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Audi A7 Sportback, the CC is a four-door coupé, which means it is supposed to combine the practicality of a sedan with the smooth styling of a coupe.
Compared to the rather more pragmatic Passat on which it is closely based, the CC certainly offers a lot more eye candy – even more so in this latest, recently updated guise. Both the front and rear have been comprehensively restyled, and now express the Volkswagen design language more succinctly than before.
The front looks more aggressive, thanks to a bolder bonnet, new grille, revised bumper and restyled headlights. At the rear, the treatment is visually cleaner, with new LED tail lights and a reshaped bumper.
In fact, as four-door coupés go, the CC is more aesthetically convincing than any of the more upmarket, and more expensive, players in this category. There’s an appealing flow to the lines, and the proportions express a perfect balance between sophistication and sportiness.
If anything, the sleek elegance of the CC’s silhouette understates is dimensions, which at 4,8m long and 2,85m wide, are substantial. That’s only slightly smaller than an Audi A6, and certainly larger than an A4. A low roofline emphasises the CC’s smooth lines.
As before, the CC is offered with a choice of drivetrains, including four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol and turbodiesel engines, and a petrol V6. Our test car was the two-litre TFSI turbo petrol unit, good for 155kW and 280Nm, and linked to a six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox.
The four-cylinder offers loads of low-down urge, and ample refinement at cruising speeds. Claimed fuel consumption comes to 7.8-litres/100km, although driving the CC with the enthusiasm it deserves will see that figure rise substantially.
That the DSG gearbox has six gears in this execution, instead of the seven found in many other VW and Audi products, means the ratios are a little further apart, which aids overall refinement and composure.
Like the rest of the CC package, the cabin exudes an air of sophistication. It’s surprisingly spacious too, despite that low roofline. This latest version gets uprated finishes, and an extensive array of standard equipment.
The sculpted front bucket seats are new, and offer good support, together with a decent driving position. The dashboard features revised switchgear and updated ergonomics, allowing an intuitive interface between car and driver.
Indeed, the touch-screen-based control system for the audio system, climate control and other functions is particularly impressive.
Less obvious, at least until you’re on the move, is the improved sound proofing, thanks in part to better insulation materials, a revised window system, and an acoustic film layer applied to the windscreen.
The convenience and safety features list is comprehensive, matching the CC’s flagship positioning. New on that list is fatigue control, which sounds an audible alarm when it senses that a driver is losing concentration. Yawning, it seems, will become an alarming act…
The rear accommodation now offers a conventional bench seat with space for three occupants. And talking of space, there’s plenty of leg and headroom front and rear, while the boot will swallow up to 532 litres of luggage.
While this VW’s turbo engine is eager enough, one can’t help but notice that the CC is a big, and heavy, car. At Reef altitudes, there is some initial lag on pull-off, and in-gear tractability isn’t as immediate as one would expect. Still, it’s frisky enough when pedalled with intent.
The performance figures suggest a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 7.3sec, which is brisk enough, if not downright rapid, while the top speed of 240km/h is more than ample. Progress is unruffled in most situations, while the ride is firm and poised without becoming too harsh or uncomfortable.
Attack a series of corners, and the CC feels competent, while disguising its bulk well when pressing on. But the overall emphasis remains on comfort and composure – qualities that suit its overall positioning.
With a drivetrain delivering ample muscle and slick refinement, together with a chassis focused on comfort, the Volkswagen CC offers a nicely balanced mix of dynamics and luxury.
Sharper looks, an updated interior and lots of standard kit make for an elegant and value-added package. But for the snobs, the VW badge simply won’t have enough shine.
In fact, the CC’s most potent enemy is the prejudice of the South African motoring public. In the minds of most luxury car buyers, the CC simply can’t match the likes of Audi, BMW or Mercedes in the image stakes.
But those prepared to judge the CC by its own, very real, merits, will encounter a satisfying luxury car that thoroughly deserves premium status. DM
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