I can’t understand the fascination the Germans have with everything styled like coupes. It all started with the Mercedes-Benz CLS that’s shaped like a banana, but it’s shapely nonetheless. Then there’s the new BMW X6 that can’t make up its mind if it wants to be in the slush or parked inside a club porch. And now, it’s Volkswagen’s turn. They have taken the no-nonsense Passat, stretched it like Tyke would stretch Tom (with Jerry laughing at the sidelines) and called it the Passat CC.
It’s strange that Volkswagen would inject so much style into something that’s best known for its ‘anonymity’. The Passat in Europe is still more of a repmobile, a family car and a practical choice, unlike here in India where only a few can spend to the tune of 25 big ones to own it. Since its anonymity also disallows it from enjoying better brand equity, Volkswagen added the CC (coupe-cabriolet) in its Passat lineup to infuse some much needed panache. Let me admit, at first glance I didn’t like it. But if your first view has the hindside smack bang in your face, it might leave you a bit disappointed. Though it’s easy to forgive that rear end, because in profile, the CC is so dramatically different looking from the Passat that any resemblance between the two, well, is down to the thickness of the sheet metal. It’s just 31 mm longer than the standard saloon and about the same in width as well. I don’t have the wind-tunnel figures with me, but I’m sure if the Passat had the aerodynamic efficiency of an A-10 Thunderbolt, the CC would match those of an F-16. It looks more expensive than it actually is, and VW have ensured that the wheel options start from 17-inch. And go upwards.
We were actually allowed a rather short spin in it to gauge VW’s new lane departure system. To let you in on the lane departure system, it’s actually an intelligent piece of kit. In case a driver tends to wander out of his lane, without warning, the steering will apply some torque and therefore some opposite lock to steer back on its original path. The technology was developed to prevent accidents that occur due to fatigue, sleep or drowsiness, causing drivers to veer out of their lane. At this rate though, we are looking at cars that can steer themselves, making us hapless drivers mere passengers in an electronically nerved monster. However, the Passat CC is capable of bringing out the monster in you. Choices include a plum 3.6-litre V6 that also powers the R36 estate and as well as the more sober 1.8-litre turbo petrol and the 2.0-litre diesel that powers the Indian Passat. As the stars aligned, I found myself behind the wheel of the mad 297 bhp V6. Giving it some stick on the autobahn released 36 kgm of sublime smoothness, followed by the whirling of a V6 engine working hard. On the empty stretches outside Wolfsburg, the Passat CC got into its element, exhibiting the kind of waftability that the current-gen Mercedes-Benz S-Class can only dream of. Seriously. The engine feels very relaxed while cruising while the ride was so comfortable, you would actually start clamouring with Volkswagen India to retrofit it on the Passat sedan.Acceleration is in Audi S4 territory, and according to company claims, it can hit 100 kph in just 5.7 seconds.
As special as the car feels on the outside, it’s bit lukewarm on the inside. The expanse of the dashboard is larger and the seats are a touch sportier, but the rest of it feels like a mildly tweaked Passat saloon. It’s bright, but not as special and a touch more chrome, metal inserts and colourful dials would have made it awesome. But then awesome interiors would have meant an awesomely large price tag, because most of the R&D expense was spent on making the front end of the cabin more spacious than the rear.
You might bump your head on the roof when you try to access the rear, though legroom appears no different from the regular saloon. So, you spend the extra money over a Passat saloon to just look special when you get out of it, not in it. And if Volkswagen were to offer it here, that special treatment would cost in the region of Rs 30 to 35 lakh for the four-cylinder engines, frankly a bargain when you consider the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are available for similar money with no more space and definitely not so much style. And it’s half the price of the original four-door coupe - the Mercedes-Benz CLS. So will VW create a Jetta CC? With the Germans, you just never know.