Volkswagen Passat CC TDI - motoring.com.au | Catalog-cars

Volkswagen Passat CC TDI

21 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Volkswagen Passat CC TDI

Volkswagen Passat CC

TDI

Handsome and refined, the Passat CC appeals to more than just the usual Volkswagen fans

Volkswagen Passat CC TDI

RRP: $54,990

Price as tested: $62,490 (includes metallic/pearl effect paint $1000, satnav $2500, rear-view camera $600, Park Assist $900, Adaptive Cruise Control/Front Assist $2000 and Active Climate Control front seats $500)

Engine/Drivetrain/Chassis: 4.0/5.0

Price, Packaging and Practicality: 2.5/5.0

Safety: 2.5/5.0

Behind the wheel: 3.0/5.0

X-factor: 4.0/5.0

Never mind the Mercedes-Benz CLS, the car most closely approaching the Volkswagen Passat CC TDI for form and function is Volvo’s fairly ancient S60. The only reason the Volvo isn’t listed as a competitor to the VW is because it’s soon to be history and doesn’t offer a diesel engine option. But in its style and presentation the Volvo might have been the very inspiration for Volkswagen’s slinky variation on the Passat theme.

Straight up, the Passat CC is one of the most finely concocted blends of style and practicality we can recall. Of the competitors suggested above, a few are cheaper and most are not as modish, but none can hold a candle to the Volkswagen for tying together the conflicting design criteria. That doesn’t mean the Passat CC is flawless, of course.

While the styling of the car is its greatest virtue, there are some concessions to be made in exchange for the Volkswagen’s looks.

For one, the boot doesn’t seem as useable as it might be (although it does extend forward quite some way). It’s a little narrower than you might expect and the curvaceous rear flanks seem to have eaten into the boot space — plus the floor is shallower to accommodate AWD drivetrain components.

While the styling does away with what some might consider the slightly ill-proportioned looks of the mainstream Passat, the CC’s rising beltline makes it harder for the under-height testers to see out the side windows. In a ‘pincer movement’, the lower roofline requires most (not just adults) to duck their heads while entering the car.

Fashion also obstructs the driver’s view of traffic lights at pedestrian crossings. Nor is the field of vision to the rear beyond reproach and the (optional) reversing camera and acoustic parking guides are almost imperative.

There’s decent leg and knee-room in the two-seater rear, provided the driver’s seat is set at a reasonable distance from the wheel for average-sized drivers, but taller drivers’ requirements will encroach on the available room in the rear. And headroom in the rear is borderline for adults and taller teens.

By contrast, the amount of headroom for the front-seat passengers is surprising, given the lower roofline, but we’d be wary of specifying a sunroof if you’re a bit taller. The test car wasn’t fitted with one, so we can’t comment further on that.

For fit and finish, the Passat CC TDI pushes the envelope for a car of this price and value — in the right direction. The Volkswagen gets the sort of fixtures that just beg you to reach out and touch them. There’s the cloth on the roof pillars and the very soft leather of the seats, to give two examples.

Volkswagen’s designers have accomplished something really remarkable with the seats; they’re enveloping, comfortable and supportive. They’re like the best of both worlds; somewhere between American and European preferences.

Overall, the Passat offers a very ‘clean’ dash layout but not one that’s stark. The design is familiar and most of the jiggers are easy to use. Learning how they work won’t take much time out of your day.

Generally speaking, the driving position is quickly adapted to suit a wide range of driver physiques and the instruments and controls — despite being a little Eurocentric — are clear to read and operate.

One becomes aware very quickly, particularly when using the optional Satnav and trip computer, how much one comes to rely on the central display between speedo and tacho. With the satellite navigation working, the readout will provide such useful information as ETA, distance to destination, next destination along the route, etc. This LED display also frequently flashes up warnings if you’re using the (optional) Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and approaching a car at a speed that leaves insufficient braking distance.

Gotta make a couple of mentions concerning the satnav and the ACC at this point… On a long trip up the country, we quickly discovered that the Victorian ‘town’ named Sidonia is not incorporated in the navigation system’s mapping data. No big deal, since nobody’s ever heard of Sidonia anyway — including the bloke running the motel in Kyneton, barely ten minutes drive away!

Another consideration with the navigation system was that the voice prompts may not always align with the route displayed in the LCD located in the centre fascia.

Instructed by the satnav voice prompt to bear left on to route C318, we prepared to continue straight ahead, because a road sign indicated that route C318 continued in a straight line. The map display, on the other hand, prompted us to turn left on to what the road sign indicated was route C793. Either the voice prompt was wrong or the road sign was.

The adaptive cruise system is fantastic. There’s no other word for it. With the system set to a cruising speed of 100km/h, the car progressively reduced speed behind a truck as it left a freeway, turned at the end of the exit ramp onto an arterial road and then moved across into a right-turn lane.

The Volkswagen maintained station behind the truck, with the DSG shifting down gears as and when required. As the truck reached standstill, so did the Volkswagen, without the driver using the brake pedal once! Granted, there are other cars that offer this type of feature, but how many for the same price as the Volkswagen?

The Passat CC TDI came with other gadgets which impressed with the way they went about their duties. The cornering lights that dimmed progressively as the car straightened up from its turn, for example.

The bi-xenon headlights cast a powerful and well-adjusted beam on the low setting, and there’s not the disparity between low and high-beam settings you experience in some cars. You don’t feel blinded after on-coming traffic has passed and the lights are still on low.

The frameless windows electrically seal when the doors close and unseal slightly when the car is unlocked.

A few features achieved their intended ends with varying degrees of success. The electronic parking brake is a useful thing to have, although the placement of the button to operate it is slightly at odds with convention, being on the dash to the right of the steering wheel.

Owners will appreciate the MP3-compatible audio system and the LCD touch screen to change radio stations, but might not be so keen on the ignition key that has to be held in place until the engine fires. It’s not a major design flaw; you just have to develop the habit of holding the key in place. A one-touch system would be better.

Once the engine is up and running, it’s quiet, but pleasant-sounding by diesel standards. Of the noise sources entering the cabin, wind, road and driveline were equally ‘at fault’ — the Passat CC is a very quiet car, actually.

Hardworking and willing to rev to 5000rpm, the turbodiesel also returned an average fuel consumption figure of just 6.5L/100km. That included two or three days of city commuting, some first-gear stop/start traffic in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton during the first Saturday of the Avalon Air Show, faster open-road cruising on 110km/h-limited freeways and some performance testing. This seems like an outrageously good figure for a car that presents very much as a stylish family car for the executive type who’s still two or three decades away from retirement.

The 2.0 turbodiesel is matched to the six-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission.

We’re fans of VW’s clever trannie but there’s a couple of traps for young players. If you really want it to work like an automatic, you better enable the Auto-hold facility to ensure the brakes hold the car on hills until one of the clutches lets torque from the engine slip through the transmission to the drive wheels. You can manually enable the electronic parking brake on every hill, but Auto Hold is just that much easier.

And because the clutch separates the engine from the transmission at idle, torque isn’t quite immediately on hand as is the case with a conventional automatic and its torque converter. As a consequence, the DSG box hesitates from a standing start. On the move, the Passat CC TDI appears to offer the sort of performance potential to take a 4.0-litre Falcon, but the Ford would get the jump for the first 20 metres or so.

Volkswagen offers a seemingly endless variety of different transmission modes. You can use the car as you would a conventional automatic — just leave it in Drive with occasional changes to Neutral, Reverse and Park. If you’re a bit more adventurous, you can occasionally change gear manually with the lever left in Drive, but shifting courtesy of the paddles on either side of the steering wheel.

If you’re more committed to the whole DIY concept, you can shift the lever to the left and shift up or down sequentially.

To top it all off, if you like your DIY shifting to offer the ultimate in sporting response, you can pull the lever back from the Drive position to Sport and the transmission will act as a sports-enabled auto.

Oh and you can still use the paddles!

Once off the straight and narrow, the Passat CC’s steering feedback can be inconsistent; acceptable at higher speeds in flowing corners, it’s occasionally missing in action in the tighter stuff. As compensation though, the Passat CC has very good turn-in, even with power applied. The car’s handling is what you might call viceless and there’s plenty of grip.

Volkswagen has equipped the Passat CC with Adaptive Chassis Control, a system that adjusts the car’s damping electronically and also modifies the level of power steering assistance, although it has to be said, that’s less apparent than the similar system offered by Audi in the A4.

It’s an adaptive system, which means that whatever the manual setting selected by the driver (there are three of them), the system will optimise and balance ride comfort and handling to suit the prevailing conditions. The three modes are ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Comfort’. Changes to ride comfort are offset by roadholding and body control, depending on the mode selected and — as already mentioned — if the driver attempts to take a corner at high speed while the car’s still in comfort mode, the system will tighten up the damping adaptively.

At no point during our test of the Passat CC TDI, other than on one section of road when the car’s Adaptive Chassis Control was running in Comfort mode, did the Volkswagen’s body control feel less than poised in corners. The system’s Normal mode is and will almost always be the ideal balance for most drivers.

In Sport mode the Passat CC is a very competent car from point to point, but Normal mode will achieve 99 per cent of what the car can do in the harder-riding setting.

That’s the one drawback of the Sport mode — and why you’d most likely stick with the Normal setting; there’s not that much gain, but the Passat jiggles a bit, even on freeways, when it’s set in Sport mode.

By comparison, in both Comfort and Normal settings, the car will just glide over secondary-level road imperfections. If you want the ultimate comfort over larger bumps and holes, the Comfort mode is the setting of choice.

The Passat provides high levels of active safety. On just one occasion did the ABS and stability control intervene during the seven days the car was in our possession. ABS stirred on a downhill section of bitumen with a hard left-hander at the bottom and braking left a bit later than ideal.

It was apparent right from the moment we picked up the Passat CC that people are attracted by its sleek styling. To Volkswagen’s credit, while you may need to make some concessions to live with the styling, the concessions are not typically major ones. Combine the look of the car with the way it performs, and the fact that even a leadfoot will squeeze 500km out of half a tank of fuel (in pretty fair comfort and safety) and you have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t you buy it?

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Published. Friday, 1 May 2009

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