Volkswagen's four-door coupe, the CC, gets even better looking with the sleek R-Line trim. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The CC four-door coupe has delivered for Volkswagen since its 2008 launch. This second generation car is now offered in R-Line trim, adding 18-inch wheels, a body styling kit, LED running lights and an R-Line multi-function steering wheel. Choose between a 210PS 2.0-litre petrol engine or a 177PS 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
Who would have guessed that when Volkswagen launched the CC version of its Passat back in 2008, it would prove to be the cuckoo in the nest. Almost overnight, the conventional Passat four-door saw its sales nosedive as buyers were more than willing to pay a premium to turn their Passat from sales hack into supermodel. Yes, it appears that where styling is concerned, we really are that shallow. Between its launch in 2008 and its replacement in 2012, the Passat CC shifted over a quarter of a million units, many of which scavenged sales from the regular Passat. With its replacement, Volkswagen tried to change things a little. In a bid to differentiate it from its forebear, the Passat name went, Volkswagen instead preferring plain and simple 'CC'. Since then sales have held up extremely well and the addition of a stylish R-Line version shows the CC in its very finest light.
The mainstream Volkswagen CC range targets efficiency quite seriously, appealing as it does to a split between business and private buyers. With the R-Line model, the company has instead concentrated on the more powerful engines. Buyers get a choice between a 210PS 2.0-litre petrol unit or a 177PS 2.0-litre turbodiesel powerplant. Both engines get a choice between a six-speed manual transmission or the acclaimed DSG twin clutch sequential. Both cars feature the clever XDS differential, an electronic cross-axle traction control system. This is probably the biggest change to how this second-gen CC drives In moments of fast cornering, XDS doles out the right amount of power, providing pressure on the inside wheel to prevent wheel spinning. The result is better traction and a reduction of any tendency to understeer. The 210PS petrol engine is no slouch, getting the car to 62mph from standstill in just 7.3 seconds and that slippery shape will punch right through to a 149mph top speed. The diesel models aren't quite so quick off the mark, but the 177PS car manages the benchmark sprint in 8.4 seconds and will make it to 141mph. Its peak torque figure of 380Nm pummels the 279Nm of the 210 PS petrol car and it's summoned from just 1,750rpm which means effortless overtaking.
Design and Build
The R-Line looks a good deal more purposeful than the rest of the elegant CC range, largely due to its distinctive front grille with round fog lights, revised front bumper, R-Line logo in the radiator grille, sill extensions, LED daytime running lights and 18-inch 'Mallory' alloy wheels. It doesn't turn it into a pugnacious-looking thing, instead working harmoniously to offer a cohesive grand touring look. The sacrifice for that swooping roof section is headroom. What's more, the CC is a strict four-seater compared to the Passat saloon's five berths. The CC is a little longer than a Passat saloon, however, and the boot measures a hefty 452-litres. The cabin is solidly built and the fascia design is a degree or two classier than that of the stock Passat saloon.
Market and Model
Due to the fact that R-Line trim is only offered with the top petrol and diesel engines, you'll need to put your hand in your pocket for this one. Still, around £30,000 for the 210PS petrol model doesn't seem bad value for money compared to the best part of £50,000 for the entry level and less powerful Mercedes-Benz CLS. Go diesel and you'll have to fork out just over £30,000, which may well nix it from the shortlists of some business customers. Standard equipment includes features such as the standard driver alert system as found on the Passat, plus front head restraints with four-way adjustment to reduce the risk of whiplash. Standard specification also runs to touch screen satellite navigation system, a DAB digital radio, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, 2Zone climate control, those handsome 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights and brake energy recuperation. There's also an R-Line multi-function steering wheel and trim, but otherwise you get what you'd find in the already very well equipped GT trim.
Cost of Ownership
The diesel engine is a bit of a star insofar as it offers the sort of performance that can keep a GTI hot hatch honest while, as long as you endeavour to drive it a bit more sedately, retaining the ability to return a fuel economy figure of 58.9 mpg if you choose the manual or 54.3mpg if you let the software of the DSG do the gear shifting for you. Emissions for both cars are 125 and 137g/km respectively. Obviously the more powerful 210PS petrol engine isn't about to match those figures, but 38.7 mpg isn't catastrophic. It's impossible though, to ignore the fact that it's not quite as good as it ought to be, especially when 225PS worth of all-wheel drive Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI will manage 41.5 mpg. Residual values of the CC have always shone and the R-Line looks set to continue that theme.
In making an already handsome car look better, the Volkswagen CC R-Line must be judged a success. It's a well-judged suite of changes too. The CC has never been a hard charger and to attempt to style it as one would have run counter to the mature feel of the car. While the R-Line body styling does give it more presence, it doesn't go so far as to detract from the fact that this remains an elegant grand touring car rather than a street brawler. You also get two of the best engines in the CC line-up in the shape of the 177PS diesel and the 210PS petrol powerplant. Both are 2.0-litre units and both rely on turbochargers to plump up the torque curve, but beyond that, the similarities end. The petrol engine is quicker and while fuel consumption might be deemed a tad disappointing, refinement and response certainly aren't. The diesel is the more relaxed all-rounder and looks the better buy if you're keeping track of the pennies. In some ways that's the very appeal of the Volkswagen CC. It's a car you can buy with both head and heart. Perhaps that why it's continued to do so well and why this R-Line variant will probably only bolster its success.