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Motoring: VW Passat CC: One “C” for Comfort, the other for Celerity

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | August 31st, 2009

The last time I test-drove a Volkswagen Passat, it was miles away from the best automotive experience I've ever had. While I scored its engine and ride quality highly in comparison to similar models, its drive-by-wire throttle system was enough to provoke madness in even the most patient of drivers. Because of its response lag in stop and go situations, sadly I was left concluding: “What a shame for a car with so much potential.”

Fast forward to this year, and I found myself behind the wheel of another. Call me a sucker, but I felt she deserved another shot. I'm glad I went with my gut on this, as I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. Clearly, I wasn't the only one giving the VW automakers hell about its previous throttle system, as this time around, I had no such complaints.

Christened “The CC” as a nod to its sports coupe-inspired design, by far and away, she was (well is) the prettiest Passat I've ever seen. More importantly however, as I learned from my own encounters with winding roads and rough terrain, this car handles as well as it looks.

While the base model comes with standard front-wheel drive, a V6 version, equipped with the VW's 4MOTION all-wheel drive system, and a beefy Haldex centre differential, is also available. The system featured in the latter design, in my experience, works phenomenally to further aid with the vehicle's handling. The V6's transmission layout allows it to vary its torque from front to back, sending power to the wheels that can make the best use of it. Thus, irrespective of what the weather is doing, the Passat CC remains composed under pressure.

The vehicle in question comes with a choice of two engine configurations: a 2.0-litre, turbo-charged, four-cylinder motor that produces 200hp is the standard, while the test car I was privileged enough to take for a spin came furnished with a 3.6-litre upgraded V6 engine capable of achieving up to 280hp. Suffice it to say, this car is fast, and by that I mean, it's properly fast. Thanks to its traction from its 4MOTION all-wheel drive system, the V6 version of the Passat CC can rocket from 0-100km/h in a mere 6.6 seconds and onto an electronically limited top-speed of 209 km/h. Of course, without the limiter, it can stretch up past 260 km/h, but who's keeping track right?

A major advantage to “The CC”, for the eco-conscious, is evidently its ultra clean design. With a drag co-efficient of just 0.29, The Passat easily beats out the Lamborghini Murciélago in terms of both fuel efficiency and exhaust production (while also available at fraction of the cost, mind you!). It stays quiet too, no matter how fast you're going, but most surprising of all is its overall degree of comfort and roominess.

Because its construction was modeled after that of a coupe-like sedan, I was expecting the typical lack of headroom and legroom. Instead, I found cushy bucket-style seating, in both the front and rear that not only proved to be well suited for travel, but also was quite luxurious in terms of the extra space it afforded. While the Passat CC's unique chair arrangement may make the vehicle impractical for families, it is absolutely ideal for a four person road trip. As for the trunk, here too, the vehicle naturally lends itself to globetrotting. Take it from me; packing lightly will not be required.

Finally onto what's really on your mind...what can I be expected to pay for a vehicle of this description? The Passat CC can essentially be considered a more affordable version of the CLS550, but just because it's less than half the price, don't think for a second that it's half the car. The average cost ranges from $33,000 to $46,000 depending on engine and options. If I were in the market to buy a set of new wheels, you can bet your bottom dollar “The CC” would make the top of my potential purchase list.

The quality of its fit and finish were excellent, its gadgets would keep anyone happy, and its ride would be appreciated by those who often go on long drives. But no car is perfect, and there was one minor downside. Though likely not a deal breaker for anyone looking to purchase a new ride, I must be honest in that I was not a fan of the steering column's function keys. Quite simply, they protrude out much too far, and are not as simple to use as the buttons featured on the Audi A4, for example. But, like I said, this is just a minor quibble, and from my own experience in burning a little CC rubber, I can clearly see why CAR Magazine awarded this incredible machine a 4/5 star overall rating.
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