14 June 2008

Forward Pass’

VW unveils Passat CC, a coupe-ish Merc CLS rival. Brave

VW Passat CC

With Phaetons selling as rapidly as norovirus smoothies, VW is taking a fresh shot at the luxury market with this, the Passat CC.

Despite the coupe-convertible name, the CC's roof is resolutely unfoldable. Instead, you're looking at a four-door saloon with a coupe-ish roofline and a huge sunroof. 

Though sharing its underpinnings with the Passat saloon, the CC has been stretched, widened and lowered - the roof's highest point is five centimetres lower - giving it a sleeker roofline and a more muscular stance. 

The Passat CC is a strict four-seater, with a pair of sculpted individual seats in the rear separated by a centre bin. There are plenty of luxury touches on the inside, including posh hot-cold seats nicked off the Phaeton. 

VW reckons the CC could compete against the Merc CLS, and has accordingly stuffed it full of technological gubbins. There's automatic parking à la Lexus LS, and something called Lane Assist, which stops the CC from drifting across motorway lanes. 

If that all sounds a bit sensible, you'll be glad to hear that the CC is available with VW's Dynamic Drive Control, which allows the driver to stiffen up the ride and steering responses.

That's something you might be thankful for if you opt for the top engine choice: the 3.6-litre V6 from the Touareg. Developing 295bhp, it'll power all four of the CC's wheels to 60mph in just 5.5 seconds, which puts it right up in CLS500 territory. Not quite CLS63 AMG territory, mind. 

More sedate engine choices include a 1.8-litre TSI petrol effort and two small diesels. But you don't really care about those, do you?

No word on prices yet, but we fear that unless the CC can undercut its premium German rivals by a hefty sum, it'll suffer the same fate at the Phaeton, destined to be forever dogged by its humble badge.

We'll find out when the CC arrives in the UK in the late summer.

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