Volkswagen Passat

The German company has now added a rakish four-door coupe to its sensible family car line-up.

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Choose a Passat CC, and you need to be confident that style is your top priority. There’s plenty of room for four and few will find themselves lacking boot space, but the standard Passat is much more versatile. Look elsewhere for entertainment, too – the CC is a cruiser rather than a sports saloon. Where it scores is with its bodywork. There’s no doubt it’s a more successful executive car than VW’s Phaeton – if you can live with the misleading name.

Sensible, solid and dependable – the Volkswagen Passat has long been a household name. But one thing it has never been is stylish... until now.

Having seen the success of the Mercedes CLS in the class above, VW has created a sleek new body for the Passat to offer a fashion-conscious model that will go on sale alongside the existing saloon and estate variants.

When the firm announced it was going to unveil a model badged the Passat CC at the Detroit Motor Show in January, jaws dropped at the thought of a coupé-cabriolet family car. However, the acronym actually stood for Concept Coupé – a tag that has now morphed into Comfort Coupé. The name doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but see the new car in the metal, and it’s clear that it is a radical move for VW.

Copying the CLS formula, the VW has a coupé shape, but a four-door body. In profile, it looks similar to the Merc, while the front has a bulging shape akin to BMW’s 6-Series.

However, don’t be tricked into thinking this is VW’s attempt at building another Phaeton limousine. Prices are expected to start at £21,000 – that’s around £3,500 more than the equivalent Passat saloon, but substantially below all of its premium German rivals. Climb inside, and the CC has a very similar cabin design to the standard Passat, yet the overall ambience is far more luxurious.

The narrow windows give the CC a glamorous air that the standard model simply can’t match, while the high-quality dashboard has a logical layout and feels robust.

Sitting in the rear is cosy and comfortable, rather than cramped. Passengers over six feet tall will struggle for headroom, but there are no compromises in terms of luggage space. The CC is 36mm wider and 31mm longer than the standard model, while the roofline has been lowered by 50mm. As a result, the boot offers 532 litres of space – that’s 47 litres more than the conventional four-door. Once out on the road, it’s clear that the CC is more of a cruiser than a sports saloon, although it does showcase some of VW’s latest chassis technology.

The flagship GT variant we tried comes with Adaptive Chassis Control. Not to be confused with the Magnetic Ride set-up offered by sister firm Audi, the Passat’s suspension uses valves to vary pressure in the dampers to make them harder or softer.

The driver has a choice of three modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. In the softest setting the ride isn’t class leading, but the benefits of the stiffest set-up are clear on twisty roads. Not only does the harder suspension limit body roll, but the electric power-steering also weights up to provide a more involving feel. In reality, Normal mode offers the best of both worlds, but the CC can’t match the dynamic abilities of Ford’s Mondeo.

Buyers have the choice of three petrol engines and two diesels. The top seller will be the 2.0-litre TDI driven here. As in the standard Passat it feels underpowered at times, but its relaxed delivery and frugal economy make it the obvious choice.

No matter what engine you choose, VW’s latest driving aids are available. As well as the automatic parking set-up already offered on the Touran MPV, the four-door has a lane keep system, which steers the car automatically if it drifts across the white lines on the road. The technology really works, and when coupled with radar-operated cruise control, takes nearly all the effort out of motorway driving.

But will the CC attract buyers to VW showrooms? The firm aims to shift 5,800 examples, as well as 20,000 standard four-door Passats a year. As long as you aren’t expecting a sports saloon, the CC won’t disappoint.

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