The Stylish Alternative
VW CC 2013
In a world dominated by premium-badged compact executives there are very few cars which can really take the fight to the German Big Three. Usually the competition would take them on with cheaper alternatives, but with the obligatory downgrade in quality. Volkswagen is sticking its neck out with the CC. Will it succeed, or is the grim reaper readying the guillotine? Pieter Kotze reports.
The CC follows a similar shape to its predecessor, offering coupe-ish lines with proper seating for four. The trend was set by the Merc CLS back in ‘04 and many followed in its pioneering footsteps. Volkswagen was the first to produce a ‘four door coupe’ in the competitive D-segment and it’s a refreshingly different take on a segment dominated by traditional three-box saloons.
The latest CC is a good evolution of the older model, but now looks bigger and wider. The front features Bi-Xenon headlights with daytime running lights and fairly simplistic creases running from the big chrome grille across the bonnet. The side-on view continues the simple, but elegant lines and the roofline integrates successfully with the rear to create the impression of a coupe shape. The rising shoulder line and Scirocco-derived wheel design adds a touch of sportiness, though the rear (featuring neat LED lighting) is slightly anonymous. There is also just enough use of chrome on the sides and rear bumper which enhances the elegance of the CC’s exterior.
This elegance is continued on the inside where, for a change, things aren’t too dull and boring. The fake-wood trimming makes a good job of looking real and is seamlessly blended with other high quality materials. Toys are in abundance and include heated Nappa leather seats, dual climate control, a multi-function leather steering wheel, 12-way adjustable front seats (with memory), keyless entry, an infotainment screen and even park assist. The park assist will steer the CC into a parallel parking spot, with only brake and accelerator inputs required by the driver. I’m too much of a techno-sceptic to try that one out… Rear legroom is very good, but luggage space (452 litres with rear seats up) lags behind cars like the BMW 3-series by about 30 litres. The analogue clock built into the centre console is a contentious issue. Some say it adds a touch of class, while others argue that it is trying too hard to be a Rolls-Royce, which it is clearly not. Opinions aside, it’s definitely something different which sets it apart from the competition.
Our test model was equipped with the smooth-‘n-creamy 3.6 litre V6 which, when pushed hard, sounds even better than some reputable six-cylinder engines from Bavaria… This model is (surprisingly) not available in the UK and also comes with VW’s version of four-wheel drive, namely 4-Motion. This unit is good for a stonking 295bhp, though you have to push it to a slightly stratospheric 6600rpm to achieve maximum power. Luckily you do have a mighty 350Nm available from 2400rpm, so there is never a shortage of shove. The CC might look like a sedate family car to some, but this V6 will scare (and beat) some so-called sports cars in the dash to 62mph. This CC only needs 5.5 seconds to reach this mark. To put this in perspective, the BMW 640i is only 0.1 of a second faster!
With 4-Motion technology one would think that the CC would be as surefooted as a mountain goat when tackling some tricky sections with vigour. It is very stable through virtually any corner, but tends to drift to the outside of the corner through faster sweeps. The experience is not helped by the woolly steering, which conjours up thoughts of a fluffy panda. The lack of steering feel means that you’re never quite sure which way the front wheels are pointing, leading to constant adjustment through longer corners. On the motorway you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the cosseted ride of the CC while the V6 purrs in the background. The CC displays good compliance over most undulations, but isn’t as softly sprung as its Passat sibling. Whereas the Passat irons out everything which comes in its way, the CC offers something for those who enjoy to ‘push on’ when conditions are favourable. The six-speed DSG ‘box is as smooth and slick as always, and can be operated via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
With prices ranging from just over £23 000 for the base spec 1.8litre TSI manual, to just under £30 000 for the top-of-the-range GT 2.0litre TDI auto, VW has its German compatriots in its sights and has high hopes of stealing some sales off the Big Guns. The CC is a very good package for those who want something different and who don’t mind being seen in something other than a so-called ‘premium brand’ car. Perceived quality of the interior materials are good, it offers decent space for its occupants, and it also comes with a good variety of engine and gearbox combinations. VW’s greatest challenge will be to rid buyers of their badge snobbery.