Overall rating: 4/5
Expect a sea change over the old model, and the new Volkswagen CC will likely disappoint. However, enter the partnership with your eyes open and you'll find a car that is indeed better than its already impressive predecessor.
In the Metal:
Not much of the major sheet metal has changed from the old car, the doors for example being fully retained. However, some clever changes to the front and rear, with sleek new lamps and Volkswagen's horizontally dominated family face make a refreshing update, and it retains the previous model's neat stance, proportions and sense of style.
It's a similar story inside with the architecture if not quite all of the fine details shared with the Passat saloon and estate models. It's incredibly well constructed, easy to use and thanks to the standard rear bench and 452-litre boot plenty practical as well.
It's the 140hp 2.0-litre TDI engine that will remain the big seller in Ireland, partly due to this model's low emissions and tempting purchase price. Performance feels stronger than the on-paper figures suggest and a free-revving power delivery.
Of course the 170hp model gives more punch at the top end, but for us the cheaper, lower output diesel is where we'd put our money. We also tried a 2.0 TSI petrol model, which is not sold in Ireland, but it comes with effective adaptive damping as standard, and it's an option worth having.
The CC is a relaxed and refined car at all speeds, while town driving is made easier thanks to the light gearshift, excellent ergonomics and decent visibility. But while the steering weight is consistent, there isn't much feel to the helm. There's also no vast chasm of difference between a Passat and the CC in terms of driving dynamics, which means, while it's overflowing with competence, this is not a car for those seeking driving thrills.
What you get for your Money:
It's actually pretty well-equipped, with the entry-level versions featuring iPod connection, climate control, 17-inch alloys, auto wipers, cruise control and bi-xenon headlights as standard, as well as stop-start to increase efficiency.
Meanwhile, opt for the Sport model and you can add heated seats with an Alcantara section, 'Vienna' leather trim, parking sensors and a few other niceties. Prices start at €35,660 for the model tested and finish at just over €43,000 for the CC Sport 2.0 TDI BMT 170 with the dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox.
Whatever you do, don't call this car a Passat. Yes, like the last model it shares plenty with the not-so-rare saloon, including much of its underpinnings and interior. However, Volkswagen is keen to push the model upmarket, hence the standalone name, with suggestions that the CC should be viewed as a younger brother to the Phaeton luxury model rather than a posh Passat. And with 270,000 examples of the old model sold worldwide so far, it's a trick it hopes can only bolster the car's appeal.
If you're in the market for a four-door saloon, but would happily make a small sacrifice in practicality for a large leap in desirability, then the Volkswagen CC could just fit the bill. Not only does this impressive all-rounder look great, but with the frugal and efficient 2.0-litre TDI 140 engine it drives well too.