Of all the superlatives which the broad-based product line up of the VW Group attracts, you’re not often going to find “seductive class” mentioned all that much. Yes they do sultry and sporty with the Scirocco, and the Passat at least takes a passing swipe at classiness, but that’s about as far as VW take it preferring to leave the real fight in this segment to sister brand Audi.
Except, that is, in recent years with the introduction of the VW CC. This single model represents the company’s half-hearted attempts to break out of a mould it really doesn’t want to break out of – why would it really when this mould represents a general market impression which VW do very nicely off of thank you very much. The CC is an anomaly, a VW striving to separate itself from the pack through styling alone rather than engineering integrity. For this boldness, it ought to be a car which those of us who prize something different should applaud.
However, although pretty enough from the outside, it doesn’t exactly scream to grab anyone’s attention. It may have frameless window glass and a more flowing profile than a Passat, but it’s not likely to stop passersby in their tracks. Certainly compared to more conventional VW products it stands alone, but considering how almost deliberately bland the in-house competition is that isn’t really saying all that much.
I must say it’s a shape I quite like, the new CC, but it hardly sets my heart a-racing at every glimpse. Yes the executive-saloon space it fills in VWs product spectrum isn’t the place for severely extroverted or showy cars it’s true, but there is some room for aesthetic experimentation beyond a distinctive wedge shape and clean lines.
Of course, my test car was of the new 2.0 TDI BlueMotion variety, which at R373 800 is the cheapest CC available. For this outlay you get a car with a healthy amount of tech inside, but echoing the exterior the architecture of the cabin is only very mildly elevated from the crushingly tedious and mundane stock VW efforts. It’s still a very square-dominated space heavily featuring the artistic influence of the straight line more than anything outlandish like a gentle curve.
There is, despite the sloping roof, ample space for all passengers. As well as a positively monumentally enormous boot. In fact for practicality and ergonomic functionality it scores very highly indeed, but these aren’t exactly the core ingredients of unbridled passion here, are they?
Although my feelings towards diesel engines aren’t all that positive, this somewhat cold character isn’t let down that much by this particular power plant. In 125kW form this TDI is really more than adequate, with strong torque available from low down in the rev range right up to the 5000rpm limiter and, very surprisingly, even an adequately purposeful engine note especially on full throttle openings. It even emits the characteristic VW prrrap as the 6-speed DSG shifts cogs with the accelerator still jammed into the bulkhead.
Mated to this seamless transmission the BlueMotion CC shifts along quite admirably. I wouldn’t say it was quick, no, but it’s nothing like as dangerously ponderous as the A6 with this same motor and a set of fake CVT gear ratios. Leave it in auto all day and you tend to forget that cars need to shift gears at all, the DSG software always serving up the power when you demand of it yet striving for optimum fuel efficiency all the remainder of the time, with the transition between the two taking mere moments and without so much as a miniscule jolt marking the shift.
When it comes to the actual driving bits, the CC sticks rigidly to its guns, and delivers yet another middle-of-the-range performance which won’t win any accolades but is also well rounded enough not to detract from the experience. It grips, turns, steers and goes pretty much exactly as you’d expect a high-grade economy-focussed Passat would do. There’s enough of each quality to not leave the driver in the lurch if they’re desperate for some fun, but absolutely not enough to encourage said driver to go looking for entertainment on the road.
The one and only thing which did wow me about the CC, was the projected cruising range when I first took delivery of the car. A full tank, it claimed, would get me 984km. That’s a lot of driving on one reasonable-sized tank of diesel. Of course, by the time I hit home some 130kms later, this optimistic projection had tumbled by around 400kms, down to 576km remaining, although it must be said my journeys home always include a healthy deal of above-200km/h running to get to know the high-speed traits of the car.
Which, in the CC, are pretty admirable if not exactly inspiring. It sits very well indeed and deals with bumps with unflustered aplomb, although there is a touch too much wind and road noise intruding into the cabin for the tastes of most of the customers of this flavour car. A healthy proportion of which is generated by the peculiar plastic mask applied over the tailgate, where the rear screen comes down to meet the hinges. For the sake of more coupe-like looks alone, VW has all but wrecked the aerodynamic efficiency of this area of the car, which is a bit counterproductive particularly when you’re tagging your supposedly highly-efficient BlueMotion label to the result.
Still, despite not once ever offering an experience which could in any way be termed gob-smacking or a petrol head essential, the CC is capable of enough and comfortable enough and unobtrusive enough every day to actually start to become quite likeable. You start to appreciate the subtle humours of the VW engineering team every time you take note of the one standout feature – those frameless windows – because you realise they’re so small a touch that only the most astute of spectators will actually notice them.
And the remainder of the CC impression is pretty much utterly forgettable. It is quite simply the essence of generic comfortable, spacious and superbly-built German exec saloon. And while I don’t have anything against a car delivering on that, at all, one can’t help but feel that the standard Passat also delivers admirably on these mundane considerations, for a healthy amount of Rands saved over the “smarter” CC.
And if it’s a little bit more flair you’re after, or a tangible impression of additional class or luxury, well you’ll likely be happier stretching your budget towards one of the other German brands. Which incorporate this premium classiness into their very core DNAs, and therefore understand and execute on it much better than VW has managed here.
Fun Value: 8/20
DSG – TDI combination.
Nothing really, apart from the fact that there isn’t more “special sauce” in the CC recipe to like more!
Key facts: VW CC 2.0 TDI BlueMotion
Pricing: R373 800
Engine: 1968cc four-cylinder turbodiesel.
Power: 125kW @ 4200rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1750 – 2500rpm
Top speed: 220km/h
Kerb weight: 1501kg
Transmission: 6-speed DSG
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