By on November 26, 2008

The CC stood out like a swan amidst a gaggle of homely Jetta ducklings on the VW dealer’s lot, its aesthetic appeal undeniable. In contrast with the company’s marketing approach with the Phaeton, the CC is virtually badge-less and, at first blush, hard to identify as part of the VW family. I suppose it still looks vaguely Germanic since it shamelessly cribs from the Mercedes CLS it aspires to be. Comfort Coupe or Caustic Copy?

The version I tested was loaded with most of the available features including touch screen navigation, four wheel drive and the 280 horsepower VR6 engine. The price topped out at nearly, ahem, $43,000. VW is trying to take the high road with this car, reserving premium features like bi-xenon adaptive lighting, back up camera and cool looking bi-colored sport seats exclusively for the CC.

The Passat from whence it came, moves down market, I suppose to compete more effectively with Camrys and Accords. I don’t know about you, but spending $43,000 in a VW dealer seems like a dicey financial proposition to me, reminiscent of the bath I took when I bought and later sold a Phaeton.

Plopping down into the seat, I found the interior surfaces quite pleasurable, particularly the steering wheel and those sport seats, whose stitching cleverly apes certain famous Italian interiors. There is way too much faux aluminum brightwork on the dash for this reviewer’s tastes, but some might find it tasty. The vehicle’s start sequence immediately spoiled my mood- you must peer about for the receptacle and then plug the little key-brick into the hole and push till the starter engages. I suspect that one of the engineers who worked on the original iDrive must have been pressed into service for this. I did not find it to my ergonomic taste.

The driving experience was a pastiche of all my least favorite sensations: overly light steering, brakes which begin as touchy then quickly morph into unresponsive and an accelerator which initializes with molasses-like pace. In a heavier vehicle this limousine approach to the throttle tip in makes perfect sense but in this application, first there is too little reaction and then there is too much. Acceleration is similarly disappointing. Despite a 3.6 liter V6 under the hood, worth 280 horsepower, the CC can’t deliver on any sportiness assumed to be the trade off for the car’s squat profile. The exhaust note suggests robust acceleration and the manufacturer’s data reads 6.2 second to 60 mph, but the CC feels slow.

Part of the problem can be attributed to the ride quality, which is highly compliant but resists turning off center and wallows on broken surfaces. It is hard to believe that the curb weight is less than 3,700 pounds, subjectively it feels overly laden or perhaps overly sprung. The CC would really benefit from VW’s DSG, if only it were available. Although the DSG is available in other VWs with the 200 horsepower 2.0 turbo engine, it’s not an option in any of the the CC models. As a result, you’re stuck with a traditional six-speed automatic. And “stuck” is takes on special meaning: the transmission was reluctant to kick down. Some glaciers move faster than the CC changed gears.

Actually, my least favorite part of driving the CC was the incredibly poor outward visibility. The gun slit windows as well as the tight interior spaces are part of the compromises forced upon the design in order to achieve the aesthetic goals of the four door coupe. I felt entombed by the CC, like I was driving in my own coffin, appropriate given any dangerous activity like changing lanes. Everything about the interior felt tight, belying its nearly 190 inch overall length and if the front seats seemed snug and restrictive, the back seats felt like a gulag. Theoretically, the CC gives up only 1.2 inches of rear headroom to the regular Passat; it feels like much more. And while the rear bucket seats are sporty enough, they don’t bring the “luxury” and space you’d expect from cutting the rear bench down to two seats.

For whom did VW intend the CC? If you like the look, don’t need much space or performance and never heard of BMW or Infiniti, then this could be the vehicle for you. As for everybody else, there are a plethora of options. Maybe you’d want a regular Passat, or an Audi A4, or a curiously-styled Acura. I think I might prefer a 328i or perhaps even two Jettas for the same money.

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65 Comments on “Review: 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC...”

  • avatar

    Motorweek just “tested” this car and gave it the thumbs up. Yes, i know, they’ve never met a car, er- advertiser, that they didn’t like. Sounds like the car is reaching out of its comfort zone (argh argh) and the competition (A4s, 3 series, M35) are all much better cars. Thanks Jay for another concise and informative review. Phaeton II?

  • avatar

    Stop waffling, Jay. Did you like it or not?

    People forget, but GM was actually first with a “four door coupe” in this vein. The 1995 Aurora failed to sell well partly because people expected the interior of such a large car to be roomier, and because visibility was poor. But Mercedes managed to make a go with a similar formula, for a year or two anyway (CLS sales have since slowed greatly) and now we get the knock-offs.

    In TrueDelta’s Vehicle Reliability Survey, the closely related 2008 Passat has actually been requiring few repairs, while the 2006 and 2007 are about average. VWs seem to be doing better lately, at least during their first few years.

  • avatar

    I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with paying a lot of money for a non-premium badge, or paying premium money for a pedestrian chassis with added features.

    Where I have trouble is paying more than a car is worth. The Phaeton was worth it’s sticker, even if badge snobs have trouble reconciling that; this is a Passat with compromised rear headroom, and is not remotely close to the Phaeton. The Passat pushes the envelope of pricing sanity in base 2.0T trim, but you can overlook it because it really is a nice car. The 3.6 is definitely not worth it. At effectively double the 2.0T’s price, this car is in serious trouble. Even without all the options, it’s just not competitively priced.

    I mean, you’d have to walk past the Acura TL, which despite being ugly, is a really good car. Hell, you could probably bargain a desperate Acura dealer down far enough on an RL to make it a valid competitor. And then there’s the 800lb gorilla of the premium non-premium class, the Hyundai Genesis, which just destroys this car.

    I’m not envious of the VW marketing people who are going to have to sell this thing. Nice as it is, it’s dead on arrival.

  • avatar

    People had been commenting the appearance of the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer, that they don’t like it. This VW front end looks like the 08 Lancer.

    To tell you frankly it doesn’t look like a VW Passat.

    It really change its appearance, like being groom for the 21st century. But for that price I will buy 2 new cars.

    A 09 Acura TSX and Lancer GTS

  • avatar

    I agree with the comment that this will be dead on arrival. The market for $40,000 plus cars without the status of being a luxury car is dead in the US. Even the BMW and Mercedes sales are off now and everyone else in this price range.

    I don’t believe things are much better in Europe,but then again many cars in Europe are purchased or leased as company cars and this may fit in there for some lowly executives.

  • avatar

    I test drove out two CC’s-one loaded up with equipment like the model reviewed, AND a “base” model w/ the 2.0T and six-speed manual. Perhaps the $25,500 (invoice) turbo stick would have been a more compelling proposition. That one is seriously fun to drive, and a bargain for the money.
    Both the BMW (ugly)and the Infiniti of which you speak are AUDI competitors. The Hyundai Genesis (which I sampled at the Meadowbrook Concours) is a dullard’s delight POS.
    I always find it amusing to read the bile directed at anything with the VW logo on it (GTI excepted.) If you haven’t actually driven the cars, your comments are whimsical at best. Like when a child says they hate a food they’ve never tried…

  • avatar

    Thanks Jay, will cross this one off the list of “What I will be bringing to Germany when I move”.

  • avatar

    I like the looks of this car, but a $40000 purchase price is a bit much. Once again, VW answered the question that no one asked. God forbid they sell a decent pickup or a car smaller than the Jetta! I think the CC and the Routan will be heavily discounted in the near future, so if you want one, just wait a while.

  • avatar

    Good to see another Shoemaker review! The car looks sporty, but drives like a typical VW sedan. No huge surprise there.

    Michael Karesh, please don’t tarnish the memory of the original Aurora with that “four door coupe” moniker. While it was not a sales success, it was perhaps the last truly beautiful GM sedan, before the era of higher beltlines and squashed roofs took over.

  • avatar

    I’ll never understand the criticism people use like, “I could buy two of __cheaper car___ for price of this __expensive car____.”

    ok. go ahead and buy two of those if that’s what you want. People (or at least me anyway) buy the car they like that’s within their budget and fits their needs. For example, you wouldn’t buy this car if you were really that concerned that some rear headroom was lopped off. I do understand pointing out attributes of a vehicle because they’re different, but that doesn’t always have to mean it’s bad.

    I could have bought two Hyundai Accents for the price of my GTI, but I didn’t.

    Maybe I’m just a VW apologist?

  • avatar

    I’ll buy a GM before I buy another post 1993 VW.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    One minor quibble: I’m fairly certain that the Passat is not available with DSG here at all.

  • avatar

    Both the BMW (ugly)and the Infiniti of which you speak are AUDI competitor

    Yes, but they’re pricing this to the point where it’s competing with both cars, as well as the A4. Product overlap is always stupid.

    The Hyundai Genesis (which I sampled at the Meadowbrook Concours) is a dullard’s delight POS.

    All of these cars are being bought by people who will treat them as cruisers, and the Hyundai is just appropriately targeted. It’s like comparing the CLS or 650i on the basis of track times: that is to say, stupid, because these cars will be doing little except driving a image-conscious lawyers and executives between house, work and mistress/gigolo. Hardly anyone buys a luxury coupe and drives it at more than 4/10ths, even if the car is capable of much more.

    The kind of people who do that buy Mustangs, Evos or Civic Si’s.

    If you haven’t actually driven the cars, your comments are whimsical at best. Like when a child says they hate a food they’ve never tried…

    I don’t think it’s bile as much as incredulity. The standard Passat is a very good car with attractive styling, but it’s already very expensive. Asking more for what is effectively less car is never a good idea.

    This worked for the E- and CLS-Classes because the E was rather stodgy-looking to start and needed help as it was losing sales to it’s much sleeker competition, but couldn’t change without offending the legions of repeat E-Class buyers. The Passat isn’t nearly such a brick-assed fogeymobile and VW will have real issues convincing buyers to walk past the already-excellent-if-slightly-expensive Passat in favour of this car, let alone getting them to skip past the competition.

    This car is a poorer value proposition than the Routan, which at least isn’t cannibalizing anything else and it priced more or less on-par with the Sienna and Oddyssey. What does it offer above the “normal” Passat?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Brian E :

    One minor quibble: I’m fairly certain that the Passat is not available with DSG here at all.

    You’re right. I put that in during edit, not Jay – it’s corrected now. Thanks.

  • avatar

    VW is yet another maker that seems to be losing its way. In my book, VW means reasonably priced cars that are nicely trimmed and drive very well. They get decent fuel economy. Go to Germany, and the vast majority of VWs on the road are pretty basic stuff. 1.6 litre Golfs, Polos, Lupos, etc.

    There is one caveat of owning a VW: if you are used to Japanese reliability, do not buy one. Sure they handle great but they also break. There are recalls. After warranty is not the bullet proof experience of a Honda. This begs the question: why buy one? Well, they are different from the mainstream and for the improved cachet owners will usually put up with the trips to the dealer that VWs have and this is speaking from experience.

    So, while a few trips to the dealer a year for a $25k car like a Passat may be tolerable, I doubt that anyone who plunks down $40k for a ride wants to sit in a VW dealer. Going to a VW dealer for me was like having to voluntarily check into a concentration camp. Even the most simple warranty repair resulted in either an overnight stay or waiting for parts and at least one more visit, often two.

    As for VW not selling a smaller car here, there is no way they can compete with Honda and Toyota. Simply impossible given the exchange rates at the moment. That and said Honda and Toyota owners (such as myself) are too accustomed to the biannual oil change and tire rotation to put up with warranty repairs, expensive service, surly dealers and out of warranty repairs. This why VW plays in a higher market, above, for example, Corolla but below Lexus. It cannot compete with either for reliability and it knows it. What it can compete with is curb appeal and diving dynamics. Reading five year old magazines at the dealer the day the car goes out or warranty is only part of the deal.

  • avatar

    I don’t think VW’s issue is the price and comparison upward. Even the Jetta-sized V6 A4 will rocket pass the 40K mark and is similarly appointed.

    VW’s problem is its own mix and competition below. For example, a Jetta/GLI can have basically every feature the “luxury” level CC has minus the silly back-up camera. But you can have actual leather and the DSG in the former. Oh and the Jetta holds more people! If I had some extra coin, was looking for a VW sports sedan, why would I buy a CC when the only thing it has over the GLI is possibly looks, and it lacks the DSG.

    I guess the only reason would be if I already had one of those chrysler bread vans sitting next to it on the showroom floor.

    They are addressing this problem apparently by de-optioning the lower-tier Passat and Jetta. This is just putting more people in TSXs, and running down the brand.

  • avatar

    This begs the question: why buy one?

    Because, other than reliability, they really are very good cars. The ride/handing compromise is spot-on, the controls sensible, the safety level top-tier, the feature content good, the performance and economy excellent. Oh, and the seats are better than anything excepting the Saab 9-5. I’d buy a VW based on seat comfort alone. Hasn’t the Passat been the top-rated midsize car at Consumer Reports for the past ten years or more?

    But that reliability issue is hard to take. Leasing a VW (or better yet, getting someone to lease it for you) is a great idea. Buying one and keeping it past the warranty period is not so smart.

    Heck, even within warranty you’re risking it. Dealer- and customer warranty-claim-screwing is practically an institutionalized sport at VWoA. Maybe they’re better in Europe, but in North America their warranty performance is terrible.

  • avatar

    In a perfect world, this should have been the design of the 2009 Acura TL. Instead, they gave us a co-star from Transformers with a snow plow front end and an ass end that looks like a partial completed Rubics Cube.

  • avatar

    Funny enough VW has a quite good reliabilty image here in Europe. Probably because they are cheap to run, even if the electronics act up now and then.
    They have real good resale value because of it too, which means cheap leasing costs. I guess VW’s US image is severely tarnished by the crappy dealer experience, although from my anecdotal evidence it’s not that great here either.

    I saw a Passat CC drive by this morning. I thought the ride hight was quite high. However this was a dark blue example. I’ve seen light colored ones that look better. I would have probably said 3 stars. It’s a ripoff of a not so great car (CLS) but it’s definitely not a direct competitor of that if you look at the price, so it shouldn’t be judged as one.

    Btw, taillights of a Peugeot 607??? Really? I say no.

  • avatar

    The poor throttle response sounds exactly like the way my 02 Passat V6 performed. The electronic throttle was awful, and you’d expect much better from a (then) 5-speed auto with 190 HP V6. What a disappointment to see they still haven’t fixed this problem.

  • avatar

    Why all of this harping on the $43,000 price of THIS particular test car?

    Jay Shoemaker happened to review the top of the line $43,000 CC but lets not forget that this car’s price range does start at about $25,000, the price of just about any bread and butter family sedan on the maker today.
    A Jetta can be optioned out to about $35,000, but is does not make the Jetta a $35,000 car.
    Ditch the AWD, V6 engine, and Nav system and what you have a more economical (yet still a good performer), nicely optioned, leather lined, much sleeker styled , $30,000 Honda Accord alternative.

    Viewed another way the fully loaded CC at $40,000+ is an excellent alternative to a 4cyl stripped out Audi A4. Not for nothing but you can expect the same level of quality and reliabilty from both cars.

    This car is like a VW version of the Toyota Avalon. There is a good reason why Toyota offers Avalons for sale that cost more than some ES350. There are many folks that could careless about a fancy badge but do want all the goodies.

    If German cars are your thing to get a equally powerful and optioned Audi A4 or BMW 3 series you would need to pony up an addtional $10,000.

    IMO if you are not buying a 328i with a stick and sports package why bother! I have driven enough pleather seated, 3 series with blanks all over the dash to understand why some folks will buy an “expensive” VW that actually has all of the equipment they really want as opposed to what amounts to a stripped out, cramped, run of the mill, German family sedan with a “extra” fancy name on it.

  • avatar

    When my friend bought a brand new 2006 Nissan Sentra, it was dead within 6 months. Does that mean every Nissan is a ticking time-bomb? Didn’t think so.

    Apparently no one is listening to Michael Karesh and his TrueDelta results…New VW’s do not deserve all this “not reliable” garbage.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    Really? No DSG in the Americanized version?

    Why? I’m pretty sure there is a DSG in the Euro CC V6, as well as in both the TDI CCs. The only CC available with a conventional automatic is the 2.0 TSI, the 1.8 TSI is stick-only.

  • avatar

    What they’ve created is a car that rides softly. You might call it wallowing but after 400 miles the wallowing car is still comfortable – as long as it not wallowing unnecessarily (see luxo-barges from the 70s).

    I’ve got a late 90’s VW Cabrio and compared to other small cars it is sprung pretty softly but then it was aimed at pretty mild drivers. It does handle pretty good despite this.

    It’s alot like that throttle tip in. Maybe you like cars that snap hard when you take off but to me the fact that the VW doesn’t snap your neck but still manages a good 0-60 time says they are just doing a good job at isolating the driver and their passengers from the physics of driving.

    Yeah in some cars this is nice, and other cars it’s obnoxious. Your choice. In a touring car I’ll take soft vs hard if it still handles.

  • avatar

    Of course VW’s deserve the “not reliable” slam. They charge a premium for their cars and they’re not as reliable as cheaper, reliable, alternatives. It’s so well-known that nearly everyone knows someone with a “VW story.” This wasn’t the case in 1995.

    It’s the same with every other automaker that tries to climb the price ladder without fixing their quality and reliability issues. When the reality doesn’t come close to the dream you were sold, people remember that and the maker’s brand suffers.

    And, quite honestly, the VW’s that were coming to our shores in the 2002-2003 time-frame were hideously overly complex and dastardly expensive to fix. Ever hear of Toyota or Honda shipping over thousands of “suspension replacement kits” because they couldn’t keep up with dealer demand for individual parts? Didn’t think so.

    Anyway, this car looks great! Sorry to hear that in $40k trim it’s a bust. But if the 2.0T trim is $25k, comes with DSG, and drops in value similarly to the rest of VW’s portfolio, it may be on my radar in 4-5 years. That interior looks very nice!

  • avatar

    I also don’t get the whining about VW reliability. I’ve owned four of them, from 85-02, and have no complaints at all. Darned good cars, all four. Put 300,000 miles on the 84 GLI.

    We have two local dealers, one is average, one is great. For the one I bought new (02 Golf TDI), the dealer experience was outstanding, from purchase to maintenance to the one warranty issue I had. Clair VW in Saco, Maine. Good folks. Expensive service, of course, but that goes with dealer overhead.

    As to the Passat CC, well, if you go easier on the options, it’s a sub $30K car. If you load it to the gills, it gets close to $45K. Nice to have the spread, you can actually get one equipped to taste. Cars like this are pretty much bought for looks alone – no one is going to buy this for the back seat, and the owners aren’t really going to care. It has the looks of the CLS for a ton less money. I’m a station wagon guy myself, but I think the CC is pretty hot.

    I think any comparison of any Passat to a Camry is a little silly. I mean, have you driven a Camry? They drive like an 80’s Buick. Appalling on a good day. And every generation gets nastier inside.

  • avatar

    I’ll take a 328i, sport package, manual, instead.

  • avatar

    The author should learn that apostrophe’s are not used to indicate plural’s.

    Other than that, interesting review. I currently drive a 2001 Passat Wagon GLX, and would consider getting another VW. It has not been trouble free, but most of the problems have had to do with the nervous nelly sensors and messages (BEEP!STOP! Oil Pressure Low! Pull Over Immediately! – Terrifying, but erroneous, warning), but honestly the car still drives absolutely like brand new, and the leather interior also looks like day 1.

    I agree with the others above that Passats aren’t really about how they perform at 9/10s or even 7/10s, and shouldn’t be judged on that basis.

  • avatar

    While the appeal of a 4-door coupe is beyond my comprehension, it should be noted that the CC Sport at around $27K isn’t a bad proposition when compared to a loaded Altima or Camry. Like with most cars, the trick is to go easy on the option list.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    While the appeal of a 4-door coupe is beyond my comprehension, it should be noted that the CC Sport at around $27K isn’t a bad proposition when compared to a loaded Altima or Camry. Like with most cars, the trick is to go easy on the option list.

    Well yes, but then no also. For that money, you’ll get the Passat with the 2.0 liter turbo and 200 hp. It’s not slow (hell I’ve got the same engine in my GTI), but for the same money you’ll be in a V6 Altima with a stick and 270 horsepower.

    The Altima lacks the Euro appeal of the VW of course. But the CC is still not what I’d call reasonable.

  • avatar

    Justin – fair comment but since the “it’s too much for a VW” price tag was a major feature in this review and discussion I thought it only fair to point out that a much cheaper version on the CC does exist.

    As for the Altima V6 vs CC 2.0T comparo, it will depend on your priorities. In my 20s I would have agreed with you, but now maybe the appeal of the CCs superior aesthetics and interior design might win me over.

  • avatar

    I think you can sum up any VW like this…. Base models with no/few options make a compelling case against the Japanese/US/Korean competition. Bigger engine or loaded up models make no case at all.

  • avatar

    VW products of the 1980 would go forever. My dad’s 1986 Jetta GL Turbo Diesel went 500,000 + km. However, just after the warranty expired, every singe power accessory with the exception of the windows broke. The newer cars, after Carlos Gohsn, are not famous for being reliable. Trips to the dealer are part of the cost of ownership.

    A little anecdote: I had a German girls staying with me during the summer as an exchange student. She was shocked at the huge numbers of Japanese cars on the road here in British Columbia and the paucity of uber-engineered German cars. When she asked why, I gave the standard reply, “Well, they are a good buy for the money and they don’t break very often.” Still, she was convinced that Der VW was better and we were all misguided.

    Then she rented a Toyota Yaris 4 door automatic and drove it 10,000 km around The USA and Canada. When she came back, she said to me, “You were right about Japanese cars. Now that I have driven one, I know how good they really are.”

  • avatar

    I also don’t get the whining about VW reliability.
    I had a 2000 GTI GLX that I bought new. By the time I sold it with just 40,000 miles, I was completely fed up with VW.

    I can’t remember everything that went wrong with the car. Here’s what I can remember off the top of my head:

    – rear struts and shock top mounts twice. Needed replacement a third time when I sold the car.
    – starter motor
    – MAF
    – plug wires
    – coil pack
    – turn signal stalk
    – thermostat
    – A/C compressor
    – rear brakes at just 20,000 miles
    – countless light bulbs
    – they never did fix 2nd gear grind.

    Fortunately, I missed out on all the window regulator “fun.”

    I tried several different dealers. They all sucked. They usually did not have the parts, so I’d have to bring the car back a second time to get anything fixed.

    The dealer didn’t have rental cars on site, and Enterprise didn’t open until 8 AM. So they’d call Enterprise at 8 AM, Enterprise would arrive by 8:30 AM to take me to their office. I wouldn’t be on the road headed to work until about 9 AM, so I’d be way late to work.

    Between the unreliability of the car and the poor service at the dealer, I was done with VW. Perhaps VW quality and dealer service have improved. But I’m not ready to risk it yet. And if I was, it wouldn’t be for a $43k Passat minus headroom.

    I’m currently driving a 2003 4Runner. I bought it new and have put 75,000 miles on it. In that time, I’ve had to replace rear hatch striker plate and latch mechanism. I’ve done a brake job, and will need to do the front brakes again shortly. Nothing else other than regular maintenance. And the dealer has rental cars on site that I can pick up at 7:30 AM. There are lots of things I don’t like about the 4Runner. But it is reliable.

    I miss the lovely interior of my GTI. I don’t miss being at the dealership every month.

  • avatar

    The problem with VW, they are a pain in the behind to fix and expensive. I know a lot of Automotive technician don’t want to fix them, especially when it comes to the engine but simple brakes and tune up can be done.

    The price of this car is not $28,000 it starts at $30,000 to $40,000

    And buying 2 cars instead of this VW. That’s a typical consumer behavior. Why should I buy a car that just came out in the market and no history of reliability. Yes it is a VW but not their famous Model like the TDI.(by the way seen the TDI Challenge on Speed channel, crazy drivers)

    I rather buy 2 cars with a better quality and Cheaper to Fix, can survive a heavy snow storm and will not be rusty after 2 years of driving it in New England.

    I rather buy a Stop and shop ketchup for a dollar each than buying a Heinz ketchup that cost $3.50 or more. They all going to the toilet bowl anyways

    There is a saying in Asia: why buy an expensive product when you can buy a cheaper one with the same quality. just like buying a Generic drug you will you buy a anti-biotic that cost $100.00 each or buy a generic brand that is only $10.00 each and w/ the same effect.

    Yes your vw is still running because you took care of it but majority of Americans don’t really car about their cars as long it will run til the fenders fly off.

    To make it short 1.89 millions of Americans are jobless and 9.5% unemployment in Rhode Island.
    And how many people do you know have lost their houses.

    Now a days We have to be practical and buying cheap is better.

    I speak for the average American consumer.

    Because I really do care about other people.

  • avatar

    Gosh Jay – you can take a bath by buying and selling a Volkswagen for considerably less than $43,000. Or you could replicate the process by buying and selling three Rabbits.

    VW needs to pull its head out of its ass and figure out how to federalize something Polo sized rather than repeatedly producing answers to questions practically no one in North America is asking.

  • avatar

    I really like the way it looks. Much more than the mentioned 3 seres BMW which is still seriously ugly, and any lexus, which are mostly invisable. This is a flashy sexy car. I like flash sexy cars. I would buy it in a minute. Decontented of course. 25-28K is about right

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    It looks an awful lot like the new Opel/Vauxhall Insignia that is slated to replace the Saturn Aura.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    It looks a lot like the new Opel/Vauxhall Insignia that is meant to replace the Saturn Aura.

    If that ever materializes, you could probably get one with GM’s 3.6L V6 for $25K.

  • avatar

    I would have rather read a test of the base $27000
    The base model is the true test of a brand!

  • avatar

    What a shame. When I first saw pictures of it, I immediately thought it would be a great Mercedes Benz CLS for the masses.
    $27,000 for a base trim, four-cylinder CC is not a great starting price, given its underpinnings and powertrain.
    Its not really a drivers car, so if VW adjusted the price, it could have been the first four-door coupe alternative for the Camry crowd. Since the CC is Passat-based I cant see why there would be a problem with that.

    The CC would be a great seller if VW just stuck to its original (pre-Phaeton) demographics.

  • avatar

    The appearance of this car might be enough to make it win over the usual entry level luxury brand fare.
    WhatdoIknow1- I don’t see the point to the sports package on the 3 series. There probably isn’t any difference and BMW just uses marketing terms like sports and dynamic to get you to pay an extra $2K for nothing. I doubt the base model is any less in “driving ability”. Cold weather package would be more my choice because I live in NY

  • avatar

    its aesthetic appeal undeniable

    No, it’s not. I think it’s perfectly hideous. Granted, it’s not as hideous as the Benz CLS it’s aping, but it looks like a Hyundai Azera that’s started to melt in the sun.

  • avatar

    I have to agree with JJ. I find it interesting, that VW has such a bad reputation in America, when it has a great reputation in Europe. Resale values are extremely high for everything Volkswagen (except the Phaeton) for exactly that reason…people are just convinced that VWs don’t break.

    But there’s not only the reliability issue, but also what BEAT posted, saying that VWs are a pain in the ass to fix. Over here, it’s exactly the opposite (for all I know). Mechanics might not be happy to see a VW, but that’s mainly because they’re usually easier to fix, which means less time and therefore less money for the mechanic.

    Now I wonder, are the cars that are delivered to the US really that bad, or is there a massive perception gap going on on at least one side of the Atlantic?

    The thing about fixing the car could be due to the fact that VWs are just not very common in the US, while they are virtually everywhere in Europe. Hence European mechanics are way more accustomed with them.

    But the quality shouldn’t be that far off. So either Europeans overestimate them, or Americans underestimate them, or both.

  • avatar

    The best alternative to ANY VW is a used BMW.

    Now I am bracing for the VW fanboys to start throwing their murses (man purses) at me. :)

    If VW attacked quality, they would have to spend $$$. Sexy interiors and good marketing are much cheaper.

  • avatar

    But there’s not only the reliability issue, but also what BEAT posted, saying that VWs are a pain in the ass to fix. Over here, it’s exactly the opposite (for all I know). Mechanics might not be happy to see a VW, but that’s mainly because they’re usually easier to fix, which means less time and therefore less money for the mechanic.

    European cars have not traditionally been engineered for long-term love; they’re built be to great out of the gate. That’s changing, especially with Toyota, Honda and Hyundai gaining traction and making better cars; their products have always been more reliable, but compared to European offerings, they’re just not very good.

    Europeans will put up with crap that North Americans would never, ever stand for. VW is probably the best of a bad lot–Fiat and Renault are atrocious–but when the standard is so low, you’d be hard-pressed to notice.

    Now I wonder, are the cars that are delivered to the US really that bad, or is there a massive perception gap going on on at least one side of the Atlantic?

    A bit of both.

    They’re the same cars, usually. It’s not, as VW fans are wont to claim, the Mexico factor (the always-assembled-in-Germany Passat sucked, too) but VW did cheap out on quality control at their Mexican and Brazilian assembly plants.

    The other problem is VW of America. Whether it’s the head office putting the screws to them, or VWoA’s own malice, they’ve made a habit of the tradition European, ahem, virtue of screwing customers and dealers out of support resources. Parts are rare and expensive and warranty claims are fought tooth and nail. Dealers, of course, after having been boinked by VWoA for decades are in the habit of doing the same to their customers.

    I don’t mean to single out VW as all the European marques do this in North America. It’s the reason the Italians and French were chased off, and why, when they let their quality slip, Benz, Volvo and BMW suffered far more than might be expected: bad product and good service can work (Saturn), as can good product and rotten service (Mazda, pre-1995 Benz). Rotten product and rotten service are a recipe for customer perception shitstorms.

    People credit Toyota and Lexus based on their high quality, which is largely true, but their other innovation was setting up a solid logistics network and fair warranty claims process. The Europeans couldn’t see past their supposedly perfect engineering to the whole customer experience, and consequently VW et al have a sliver of a presence in North America.

    Which, this year, isn’t actually a bad thing.

  • avatar

    Hi Jay, et al.

    I’m late to the party, so I’m probably just re-hashing a lot of what has been said, but I’m quite confused by your take on the car… I understand you got the fully optioned one, which, I’ll agree, is hideously expensive. That said, the CC starts fully $1500 under the regular Passat. Assuming we agree on its looks (knockout, IMHO), the car you’re test-driving is a relative bargain. It sounds from your review like the interior holds up as well.

    Would you consider adjusting your expectations to suit the non-luxury tier of manufacturers and trying the entry CC with the 2.0T and the 6-speed manual? I think that you’d be looking at a very different car (for the price of one of your optioned up Jettas).


  • avatar

    Jay, my compliments on the succinct writing style of this review.

    It’s darn refreshing to read prose that cuts straight to the point (“I did not find it to my ergonomic taste”) rather than strained efforts to excite the snare drum.

  • avatar

    After my drive in this morning, this has been added to the list of cars driven by wankers. Stars of the list include

    BMW X5
    Audi Q7
    Any BMW 3-series, especially 318s
    Mondeo STs

  • avatar

    This could have been a fantastic car if VW had offered the 2.0t w/ AWD, mated it with DSG and perhaps added the trick magnetic suspension from the Audi TT (which rides on the same platform). Instead, the Passat CC is offered with perhaps the worst combinations possible from the VW parts bin. The only way to get AWD is the 3.6 which is irrelevant, and using an awful automatic transmission when you have the best one in the world available is nonsensical. Maybe someone at Audi didn’t want this car to cannibalize A4 sales? Or perhaps there are better Passat CC offerings in the pipeline? Either way, VW really missed the boat on this boat.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    In Europe you can get a TDI with DSG and magnetic suspension.

  • avatar

    Re: Mirko –

    And this is why I can’t bring myself to buy a VW – all the interesting engineering and designs stay in Europe, and never make it to North America.

    As for the CC, it appears that there was a surplus of 3.6 ltr engine manufacturing capacity as well as automatic transmissions – as the rest of world moves to smaller engines and DSG tranny’s.

  • avatar

    MikeInCanada said:
    In a perfect world, this should have been the design of the 2009 Acura TL. Instead, they gave us a co-star from Transformers with a snow plow front end and an ass end that looks like a partial completed Rubics Cube.

    Then I am in a perfect world already, because I like the new TL styling. The Passat styling is not bad, but too boring as compared to the TL.

  • avatar

    AUDI could get away with this car but VW?

    This car may die the same fate as the Phaeton.

    I think the $45,000 Genesis or the MKS will sell better in the overall lifespan.

    Compete with the Accord?
    That’s ridiculous. The Accord has no competition besides the Malibu, and STUPID GM didn’t include a Navigation system option for the dashboard.

    This car will compete with the M35, MKS, Genesis, BMW 5, C350 and Nissan Maxima.
    Thus far, I see nothing here worth spending that kid of money on.

  • avatar

    When I was selling airplanes, it was well known in our industry that europeans are much more forgiving of technical problems than we are over here. I suspect it may be the same for cars.

    Also, I am no branding expert, and I don’t put nearly as much stock in it as some of the other folks around here, but I also believe it’s a bad move for VW to try to go too far upmarket. I wonder if any of that demographic research really supported this move, or if it was the execs trying to stretch their demographic. Doesn’t sales of these come largely at the expense of Audi?

    Perhaps they will sell a bunch to MB lovers who can’t afford the original, and that would be good. However, I don’t think it will work that well. They should learn from GM and purposely move prestige buyers up to Audi rather than trying to keep them.

    They should concentrate on selling style and functionality on a budget. Clean up the reliability issues, sell a couple appliance cars with character (beetle, rabbit, microbus), as well as some budget euro cars (jetta, passat, cc?).

    Here is a question for the branding folks. Wouldn’t they be better off trying to sell a single car to every multi car family than trying to be a full line player? I remember when VW’s were very often the second or third car next to the family sedan or wagon.

  • avatar

    VW light bulbs…
    I have to smile at one of the previous entries regarding light bulbs.I too replaced so many soon after buying my Jetta that I Finally went to Auto Zone ,bought and installed all new..every last one and have never had a problem since!
    Guess what,I still see NEW VW,s with bulbs burned out…
    Where the hell does VW get these things from???and from the looks of it they are still using the same supplier….
    I replaced the bulbs in my 1989 SHO last year because they were dingy…by still worked!
    And as the ‘best and brightest’ will tell you”AMERICAN QUALITY SUCKS”
    Maybe Ford gets their bulbs from Germany and VW buys from US?

  • avatar

    Now a days We have to be practical and buying cheap is better.

    I speak for the average American consumer.

    Maybe you’ll disagree but isn’t buying cheap what helped America lose it’s manufacturing base? The race to the bottom? Not saying anybody needs to spend $40K on a VW to save a job. Am saying that buying cheap just supports Wal-Mart and China.

    If you are only referring to cars then I agree b/c I am a used car man myself. My used VWs have been fine. Not as good as my Hondas but the VWs have been okay. Plenty of budget aftermarket repair parts if you have the internet and alot of those parts are sold as OEM – somewhere.

  • avatar

    Joeaverage all products Now A Days are made in China.

    If you boycott Chinese Made products you are likely to lose. Sorry to say Americans has no option but buy Made In China.

    Even a Original DKNY or Tommy Hilfinger jeans are made in China but are original jeans by those name brands.

  • avatar

    Paying anything more than $30K for this is just idiotic. Around here you can get a CPO Mercedes CLS500, the real thing, not the Wal-mart knock off, for $37K.

  • avatar

    I don’t think VW is going after the “why don’t you just buy a BMW with a manual?” crowd with this at all. Honestly, I think they are going after ME… because I live just outside a city and manuals are a PAIN in the city, especially parallel parking on hills. I like automatics, especially w/ a manual override.

    I think this car will fail because at it’s price point, the interior isn’t special enough. I have a 2003 Passat GLX w/ leather and my father (a car nut) and my sister (a heterosexual female) both love that thing. The seats and leather are great and it drives suprisingly well for the underpowered 2.8l v6. I got in a 2008 3.2GLX (not the CC) and was flabbergasted at how cheap the interior materials were. I felt like I was in a Rabbit, from 1987.

    Lastly, the Jetta isn’t really a competitor, it feels quite a lot smaller on the inside, even in front.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    Great styling and reviews elsewhere rave about it instead of the rant here. Get over the non-VW pricing: It’s an Audi for less.

    Don’t forget that not everyone has convenient access to a luxury dealer. I would not purchase a brand outside of a 10 mile radius.

    I think the CC is a winner.

  • avatar
    Ryan Furst

    Say what you will but this car is the most beautiful VW in a long while. Jay your tastes are much higher than the target demographic for this faux luxury car. Although I must admit $43K is a boat load of cash for this model.

  • avatar

    Wow, how is the 6 speed tiptronic reluctant to downshift? You probably had it in D, in sport it downshifts in a blink of an eye.
    Inside line can even verify.
    I have a 2.0T CC auto and in S shifts are lightning quick.

  • avatar

    Nice looking car but simply too expensive. The V6 is in A4, 328i, C300, ES350 territory.

  • avatar

    I leased one in November 2008 as a 2009 model for 4 years. That was dumb – 3 year warranty.

    It is the bottom of the line “Sport” model with a 6 speed manual and the 2.0T four. The CC was the only acceptable looking VW on the lot. That “sheild” front end on every other model is just too doofus for me to get behind. I do love the looks of the CC (in light blue metallic) and the black vinyl seats feel great – don’t miss leather. The whole interior and ride reminds me of the purposeful early German cars like the ’72 Orange BMW 2002 I had after college.

    So far it was in the shop for a whole month before they could diagnose and replace the cylinder head with a leaking valve guide. The rear brakes needed new pads and ROTORs at 35k. It’s got rattles in the dash and elsewhere the dealer refused to hear. Now the “check engine” light is on and it stammers and stubbles with the pedal down. Maybe it was bad gas?

    I’m torn. Good driving experience, good milage, reasonable value, and great looks but I can see it being a money pit from now on if I purchase at the end of the lease next year.

    The top o’ the line versions are laughably expensive – pretenteous even. The only market value proposition is the base model although I think the wheels are purposefully ugly. The V6 puts too much weight in the nose compared to the turbo 4.

    Will I buy another VW? I been saying “no, no, no!” for the last 25 years but the CC is my fourth. Best of the lot was the ’85 Cabriolet built by Karman athough underpowered. Somehow, when I look around for a new car, VW seduces me with their good dynamics, reasonable pricing, and German design.

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