Drive to boost CC s market share
VW Passat CC. Supplied picture

_BEING _ a VW connoisseur from way back (my first car was a 1192cc Beetle with four exhaust pipes - rolled it), it was a given that I was sent to Tasmania to drive the new Volkswagen CC.

The Passat is at the head of VW's passenger car line and the CC variant was previously the premium version.

Now the maker has split the car line and it's known as simply the CC, with the Passat range selling into its own market sector.

Released at the 2008 Detroit Motor Show, 320,000 CCs have hit global roads, 2700 of them in Australia.

But the volume has been steadily declining and the plan is to restore the CC to a prominent position in the mid-luxury medium market.

The CC is built at the main Volkswagen plant in Emden in northern Germany and has been completely restyled. It's probably the most coupe-like sedan on the market.

At first glance, I thought it would be impossible to get enough rear seat headroom under that low roof line, but a closer look revealed that the actual roof height is concealed by very clever side window lines that lead the eye to believe it's swoopier than it really is.

Sitting in the back, there's not much room for a middle person but plenty of comfortable space for two adults.

Both driver and front passenger face a slick dashboard with easy-to-reach buttons and dials.

The info screen is crystal clear, even in sunlight. Everyone is cradled in Nappa leather and the optional massage front seat is a ripper.

Two engines are available, a 2-litre TDI turbo diesel and a 3.6-litre V6 petrol. The diesel engine develops 125kW of power, 350Nm of torque and drives the front wheels.

The petrol engine has 220kW with the same torque figure and drives through all four wheels.

As with all four-footed passenger cars, the VW 4MOTION system is all-wheel drive aimed at bitumen rather than dirt. So you can't climb most mountains and ford most streams, but on the roads and highways it sticks to the blacktop like a leech.

Both are more fuel-efficient than their predecessors, but the oiler wins hands down in the economy stakes with 5.7L/100kms versus 9.7 for the petrol model.

Both have the marvellous DSG six-speed automated manual transmission and that's it - no transmission options to complicate things.

And with the DSG box, you don't need any anyway.

Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are in the front with LED lights used for the rear and the licence-plate illumination.

Volkswagen has filled the CC to the brim with safety and driver aid features that are bewildering at first, but very quickly become part of your driving.

Side Assist and Lane Assist doesn't just warn you if you're wandering, it links up with the XDL diff lock and gently tugs at the wheel to get you back in shape.

The new Park Assist program will recognise perpendicular park spots as well as parallel ones now.

The sills at the sides of the car are quite high and the centre pillar is almost 15cm wide. With a thick windscreen surround, it appears the car's rollover strength is extraordinarily high.

The 4MOTION all-wheel drive system on the V6 normally sends 90 per cent of the power to the front wheels, but when performance or road conditions require it, an electrohydraulic all-wheel-drive clutch operates to instantly send more drive to the back axle.

Various weight-saving methods are used in the front suspension set-up, dropping nearly 14kg off the unsprung weight.

The two CC models are separated by $10,000. The diesel is $54,990 and the petrol $64,990.

It's a short options list, and I think only the Park Assist 2 would be on my non-negotiable list.

However, the full benefits of the driver assistance package need to be weighed up carefully as they'll add a substantial 6 per cent, or $3300 to the price of the diesel.

By the way, if you see a CC owner aiming a kick at the rear of the car, don't pull over and offer counselling. They're just using the auto boot opening function that spots a well-aimed size 6-10 and pops the lid immediately.

The West Australian

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