2010 Volkswagen Passat CC Highline 3.6L V6 Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on June 08, 2010

Sweet ride. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

On a winding road the CC is exemplary. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

The layout is very nice indeed. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

Fabulous seats! (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

The CC comes packed with features. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

Rear accommodations are excellent. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

The four-place CC sorts an attractive armrest with a centre console divider underneath. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

Trunk space is very good. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

The CC is a car for those with refined tastes. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

Published on June 08, 2010

A few nights ago, while driving a brand new Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet al fresco down Vancouver's Robson Street, I noticed a particularly eye-catching car, its quad oval tail lamps glowing in a most uniquely attractive way and elegantly dark silhouette blocking the bright lights behind. The car was Volkswagen's Passat CC, and I was duly impressed.

I've had the CC before, and liked almost everything about it, but never appreciated just how fine it looks until experiencing the scene just described. Certainly I was impressed the first time I saw it in person at the 2008 Geneva auto show, and since that time when seeing them drive around on the street and then having it in my possession, but something about that moment two nights ago, possibly the lighting of the city backdrop, or lack thereof, the effect of the taillights and particular angle I approached the CC from, left me awestruck.

The CC, part of the Passat lineup in Canada and a standalone model in the US, is Volkswagen's North American flagship now that the Phaeton is history in these parts. Of course, the Touareg costs more and therefore is a flagship all on its own and worthy of such status for its premium-like furnishings and V8 performance, but normally flagship status goes to a car, not an SUV.

The CC is fully worthy of its flagship status, for an entry-level luxury brand, as Volkswagen has now become. Certainly it doesn't incorporate a V8 option, a reality we'll likely see more and more of as fuel economy and emissions issues take a front seat to performance, and is only midsize compared to most auto brands' full-size flagship models, but it can be optioned to drive all wheels via a powerful engine, is beautifully fitted with extremely high-quality materials, comes packed with the latest technology and looks fabulous, as noted.

The engine in question isn't the base turbocharged 2.0-litre four that makes 200 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and 207 lb-ft of torque at 6,200 rpm, an motor that, while up to the task of moving the 1,510-kilo (3,328-lb) base model along with reasonable vigor, doesn't audibly sound like it fits the performance-oriented look of such an elegantly shaped sedan, or rather, four-door coupe as the segment is now becoming known as. The 3.6-litre V6, mind you, sporting 280 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 265 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm, sounds fabulous and moves the slightly heavier 1,748-kilo (3,853-lb) CC along with the kind of authority expected amongst flagship models.

Enhancing the flagship experience is a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that's creamy smooth and silent in its operation, with shift points ideally matched to the V6. It snaps to attention when foot meets the floor, and either swaps gears automatically as programmed or allows driver input through its shift lever; a six-speed manual is available with the four-cylinder, although a truly modern six-speed double-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) is optional, new for 2010.

Other new features for 2010 include standard rear side airbags along with rear seatbelt pretensioners for all models, a premium six-CD audio system with Sirius satellite radio standard on Highline trim levels, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity plus a new steering wheel design standard on Highline and Highline V6, a sport suspension with 18-inch wheels and a digital compass standard on Highline and Highline V6 models, plus a new Technology Package consisting of a navigation system with a 6.5-inch touch-screen display, SD card input, 30-GB hard drive and Dynaudio stereo upgrade available on Highline, and standard on Highline V6. Other than the replacement of VW's 4-year/unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance program with a new 4-year/80,000 km Roadside Assistance package, which is added to the carryover 4-year or 80,000 km comprehensive warranty and 5-year or 100,000 km powertrain warranty, the CC continues forward as is.

When the V6 is purchased, the CC comes standard with Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive, leaving front-wheel drive for the four-cylinder model. 4Motion is one of the industry's more capable all-wheel drive systems, incidentally, and they're not all created equal. It's important to consider that Volkswagen shares many components with Audi, a luxury brand synonymous with all-wheel drive; Audi's quattro designation has become a respected brand all to its own. Where some competitors advertise that their all-wheel drive systems can move their vehicle forward if only one wheel has traction, 4Motion actually can when absolutely ideal laboratory conditions aren't needed to support the claim.

The CC comes in Sportline, Highline and Highline V6 trim, and even the base model offers a fairly high-end features list. Standard with the Sportline is an electronic parking brake (numerous premium brands don't even offer this upscale feature), 12-way powered driver's seat, heated "leatherette" seats, a 3-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction tilt and telescopic steering wheel, automatic headlamps, auto up/down windows all-round, heated remote mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated washer nozzles, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a centre armrest and pass-through, a removable trunk storage divider, a multifunction trip computer, cruise control, hill start assist, a sport suspension, manual climate control, a 6-CD/MP3 audio system with Sirius satellite radio, an auxiliary input jack, iPod interface, Bluetooth connectivity, 17-inch alloy wheels, and more.

If you want larger wheels you can move up to the Highline, where 18-inch alloys come standard, as well as some truly upscale features such as dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a powered panoramic sunroof, 12-way powered passenger seat, leather upholstery, driver's side memory, paddle shifters for the transmission's manual mode, plus brushed aluminum trim. Opting for the V6 adds a power rear sunshade.

Where the CC is only fractionally longer and wider than the Passat sedan, it's significantly lower mostly due to reduced ground clearance from 131 millimeters (5.2 inches) to 116 mm (4.5 inches), improving airflow and at-the-limit handling while visually enhancing an already leaner more athletic shape. Interestingly one might expect the CC to be less accommodating due to its wind-cheating profile, and while rear seat headroom is somewhat compromised, trunk space is identical at 402 litres (14.2 cubic feet); oddly the smaller Jetta dwarfs both for cargo hauling capability.

Continuing practicality issues, the two cars' fuel economy numbers are identical as well, as their overall curb weights are nearly the same and powertrains are identical. Four-cylinder CCs are rated at 10.0 L/100km in the city and a stunningly good (and optimistic) 6.6 L/100km on the highway in manual guise, or 9.6 and 6.6 respectively with the new DSG automatic. You'll pay at the pump with the V6, which achieves 12.7 L/100km in the city and 8.3 on the highway. Worse, premium is recommended for both engines, pushing running costs up significantly. Volkswagen should find a way to make its engines perform as well when using regular fuel, as some of its competitors offer higher output levels without the added expense of premium fuel.

The CC is German-built, and for what it's worth feels it. The doors close with that typical German feel and sound of solidity, and materials inside and out are premium-grade. On the road it's smooth and comfortable, yet fully capable of running through the corners with the majority of top-tier four-door models thanks to a well-engineered suspension, the previously mentioned very capable 4Motion all-wheel drive system, and standard electronic stability control. As mentioned, power off the line is impressive with the V6, standard traction control and 4Motion helps in this case too, and shifts via the six-speed automatic are smooth, yet snappy. Stopping power is good as well, with very little fade when applied repeatedly during assertive driving thanks to four-wheel discs all-round, enhanced with ABS and the expected electronic assistants.

While all of the aforementioned is impressive and, dare I say, expected from a near-luxury flagship four-door, what turns the majority of CC shoppers into buyers and keeps them enamored years after their initial purchase is the way the car looks over the shoulder when walking away, during the day and, as I learned, especially at night. This is one seriously stylish four-door coupe, and one that could easily fetch more than its quite reasonable $33,075 base Sportline price if branded with four rings or any other premium markings. As tested, a fully optioned Passat CC Highline V6 rings in at $49,100, still a fair price for a car of its quality.

Over the years Volkswagen has effectively pulled itself out of the economy car cellar and placed itself squarely into the entry-level premium market, and cars like the CC will be sure to keep it there.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Volkswagen, VW, 2011, Passat, Passat CC,

Organizations: Passat, Volkswagen

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