SINGAPORE – I doubt anyone but the near-geriatric (and that includes yours truly) will spot the reference above without referring to Wikipedia, but the basic message is that Volkswagen’s latest range-topping version of the CC four-door coupe is pretty darned good.
Once known as the Passat CC, it shed the moniker of the regular VW big sedan the better to distance itself as a more shapely, emotional product although we think the best way of describing a four-door coupe is still ‘A sedan that’s lower and sleeker than normal and isn’t for really tall people’.
But segment obfuscation aside, the CC first appeared in 2008, then got a facelift last year which was very much along the same lines as the normal Passat, with improved refinement and reduction of NVH (that’s noise, vibration and harshness) a few interior tweaks and LED running lights.
You might notice that the CC looks a little different here: The thing about this particular model is it’s the racy model, that is, the R-Line edition. Like Audi’s S-Line, BMW’s M Sport kit, and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG Sport package, R-Line models are aimed at giving normal cars a high-performance look but without the ‘and your first-born child’ price tag.
Which isn’t to say it’s not cheap – at close to $200,000 it’s about $10k more than a BMW 316i (which is quite a bit slower, though no less tidy), but it does come packed with a boatload of stuff.
For starters the exterior is more extroverted, with a full body kit, R-Line badge and grille, active xenon headlights, LED DRLs and tail-lights, special 18-inch ‘Mallory’ wheels and to cap it off, a panoramic tilt sunroof that gives a nice contrast to the bright white paintwork. It doesn’t turn the CC into a rampant street-sweeper (far from it, actually, considering the target audience) but it will draw curious looks that certainly aren’t glances of disgust.
What’s more pleasing is that VW has kept the driving experience intact. A CC with VW’s new adaptive suspension option (DCC, or Dynamic Chassis Control) is a real joy to drive, ever since the newer versions of the system have proven much more effective that the first-gen iteration which debuted on cars like the Golf GTI Mark 6.
It lends a truly all-season (well for Singapore/Malaysia, rainy, dry, hot, very rainy etc) capability to the CC, you can feel the dampers change character as you scroll through Sport, Normal or Comfort settings. The car’s pleasing and accurate handling doesn’t change much while ride quality does, as well, which is an added bonus, while the high level of refinement means the CC slips through the atmosphere quietly and like a much more expensive vehicle.
VW’s sparkling 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and six-speed dual-clutch drivetrain pulls the same great quality of duty as it does everywhere else – it’s torquey and effortless and sounds good too. Against the latest German 2.0 turbos though, it’s starting to show a bit of age with slight turbo lag, and the CC is relatively thirsty at 7.8L/100km.
If the driving is easy and do-anything as they come, the CC’s up to the challenge of practicality too, somewhat. Typically driving a four-door coupe means taking a hit in terms of practicality, but the old CC’s two-person only rear has been replaced by a three-person bench, plus there’s 532-litres of boot space and 60/40 split folding seats and you can do the ‘magic kick’ to open it when standing behind the car.
Very tall people will still be brushing the roof liner, but there’s enough on the inside to distract you from that. Extra goodies include an R-Line sport steering wheel, scuff plates, 12-way adjustable electric seats with heating/ventilation and a massage function (bravo for long distances). VW’s RNS 510 system with navigation features here too, but also gets an excellent 10-channel/speaker Dynaudio premium sound system. Given the low roof line and small green house do impinge on visibility slightly, it’s just as well that the car can parallel park itself thanks to the Park Assist system.
So the CC R-Line is really like buying a triple disc Best Of compilation from Creedence Clearwater Revival. Instead of getting less by buying single albums, or even a single best of compilation, you get a huge amount of stuff for your money and even if you dislike CCR, will end up humming to something or the other eventually.
Volkswagen CC R-Line
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 1,984cc, turbocharged, 16V, in-line 4
Power 210bhp at 5300-6200rpm
Torque 280Nm at 1700-5300rpm
Gearbox 6-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 240km/h
0-100km/h 7.3 seconds
Price $197,800 with COE
Also Consider: BMW 316i, Skoda Superb, Volvo S60
Photos by Derryn Wong