Volkswagen CC 3.6 V6

House not included

“Wow it’s a Volkswagen?” was what I heard quite a few people say stopping next to it, looking at it in the parking lot or chatting about it over the petrol pump. “No ways, but it’s a Volkswagen” was the flip side of the coin when I told them how much it costs. No matter how many stats, the backing argument or hyperbole I gave them about the ride or handling, it was lost after they heard the price.

The CC is built on Passat platform. Now if you know anything about underrated middle class vehicles, the Passat is King of the crop. It stands head and shoulders above the rest as one of the most underrated but unexciting vehicles on the market today. The Passat isn’t a total disaster though, it’s actually far from it. VW used to sell quite a few of them way back in the day, but now it unfortunately prices itself into some very formidable competition, and the same can be said for the CC.

This current CC is an updated version of the original brought out in 2008. The original takes styling and interior queues from the Mercedes Benz CLS, with swooping rear C pillar, coupe like looks and 4 seats in the rear. This new update bring it in line with the new brand face as well as replacing the 4 seats with regular bench in the rear to seat “5”.

On test was the 3.6litre V6 top of the range unit putting out 220kW and 350NM of torque, taking it from 0-100km/h in 5.5seconds. Not slow at all, works very nicely in traffic (except it’s rather thirsty), but really comes alive on the open road where the V6 torque makes overtaking and keeping speed a dream. It is the last of the V6 generation, what with the double and triple turbocharging from its competitors. It’s also offered with a diesel and 2litre turbo engine now. The V6 CC also boasts VW’s 4-Motion 4wheel drive system, which is a similar system used by Audi for Quattro.

LED daytime running lights – the standard these days

The engine is an incredibly smooth unit and is probably the best fit for the CC considering the looks. It effortlessly moves the CC along, mated with VW’s DSG gearbox, gear changes do not interrupt the surge of power at any point. The entire package fits together very nicely, with the V6 having ample power to get the bigger body of the CC moving, and doing it so smoothly and quietly making it quite a dream to drive.

The DSG box works perfectly and its smoothness is highlighted mated to the V6. Another saving grace considering the amount of power going to the front wheels, is the 4Motion (All wheel drive) system. It is hugely confidence inspiring, keeping the power going to the right wheels without any drama or shunting of the mechanics. It reminds me very much of the Golf 5 R32 which had a similar set up. Throw the CC into the bends at speed (which is something it has no problem picking up) and it handles with the type of sporty confidence inspiring nature you’d expect from more expensive German saloons. You do feel the weight, and you point more than really handle the CC, but that’s also not really what it’s about. The CC is in incredible quiet and comfortable car to drive around in. It is in fact so terribly quiet you can hardly hear the V6 even when really putting the pedal to then metal. The suspension itself is also focused to a more comfortable drive. It’s soft but not wafty and also brings about a surprising amount of stiffness when you need it in the bends.

The interior is typical new VW only there’s a touch of wood…not the plastic Hyundai type, but rather classic trim, with a clock in the centre of the dash…things are looking classy already. Otherwise it was typical VW stuff, and was impressed with the quality of the switchgear and plastics in the CC. It’s not a Birthday surprise, but everything is simple in layout and easy to understand. The big surprise were the seats, which had an excellent balance of support and comfort, kinda like your favourite chair at home. They also featured heating, cooling and even massaged your lower back. Unfortunately that felt a bit like your gran rolling out some dough over your spine, throwing your torso forward as it worked, more nauseating than relaxing. That said, the interior is comfortable, feels big and has some nice kit – reverse camera, good quality sound, Bluetooth and Xenon headlamps with directional ability, and parking assist so the CC can slide itself into any parking bay you might find – without your help.

Even purdee from the rear

As a comfortable attractive cruiser the CC ticks all the right boxes. I imagine the 45 year old plus male taking a keen interest in this style of driving, but unfortunately there’s the problem right there. I doubt the 45year old male is considers VW at his age and this price bracket at all? The CC is beautiful, has a powerful engine, a confidence inspiring drivetrain and a comfortable interior, but at R500K including options like Bluetooth prep and electric rear blind you’re paying a lot of money…”No man, It’s just a Volkswagen!”. I struggled to persuade the folks I spoke to that it in fact was worth the premium above the usual R300K they’d expect to pay for a Golf. Drive it, and you’re semi-convinced, but half a bar for a VW sedan is a big ask considering the Mercedes C350 is R540K (equivalent kW & NM) the BMW 335i – R547K (same 0-100km/h) and very similar Audi 3.0T S-Tronic (Similar Quattro drivetrain) for R540. Notable the trio of Germans will cost above R600K if you’d spec them similarly but the fact that you can get into the German trio for similar pricing means most South Africans would go straight there first. Sometimes price also has to bring status, and I’m not sure the VW brand cache brings that status, even if the CC itself might do it VW badge or not.

It’s a beautiful superb cruiser, with considerable power and acceleration, a huge boot and comfortable interior, but the price and fuel consumption might deter potential buyers. It’ll continue to be one of the most underrated vehicles on the road today, and I’d persuade potential buyers to also have a look at the 2litre turbo or diesel for better value, but please do go and look at it.



VW Jetta 1.4 TSI Highline

And ... Zzzzzzzz

Think about a family car and the Jetta is no doubt one of the most venerable of our time. The most popular model to me was the one based on the Golf 4. The introduction of the incredibly popular 1.9TDI engine made it one for the history books. This is also where the Jetta took a huge leap up the quality ladder. The interior now rivaling Audi for quality materials, fit and finish.

That’s pretty much the last time I remember enjoying driving a Jetta. The 1.4TSI Highline I had on test is the 6th generation of Jetta, and sadly I think it’s all gotten a bit boring.

New VW Look for the rear. Nothing too exciting

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the new Jetta really has blended into vanilla-ness. It’s as unoffensive as Switzerland and about as boring as lard. The Highline is the top of the range (in terms of spec), with Trendline (base model) filling the cheapest of the bunch, and Comfortline smack in the middle. The Highline spec is only available in the twin-charged 1.4TSI (118kW, 240NM 1.4 litre engine) and the 2litre TDI. You should be familiar with the 2litre diesel, it’s been doing the rounds for years now, it’s the 1.4TSI that needs some introduction. Using a smaller capacity engine that’s assisted by a supercharger and a turbocharger to give some incredible performance and fuel economy. There is also a single turbocharged unit that delivers 90kW and 200NM.

This  1.4 litre unit is being used all across the VW group, to much success. It’s South Africans, especially old-school Jetta buyers that now need to wrap their slightly balding heads around a 1.4litre engine, instead of a V5, or turbocharged 2litre.

Relax, it does the job incredibly well. That said, if you are considering using your car for long distance holiday trips, towing, or loading up 4 family members and luggage, I might suggest you get the 2litre diesel with more torque. The 1.4TSI (118kW) makes easy work of lugging around, what looks like a fatter Jetta. Smooth delivery through the rev range and smooth shifting 6 speed manual gearbox makes it a easy drive.

Sadly my unit felt like it’s been through some harsh testing during the 2012 Car of the Year, (Exact same unit was used) and it has come off worse for wear. Warning lights, worn clutch and what is a slightly dead steering let the whole experience down. I had a Hilux on test at the same time, with 16000km’s on the clock, and it felt nowhere close to as worn as this Jetta did on 10000km’s. I was a bit surprised to be honest, I’m sure it was a abused a bit, but still a bit unacceptable.

Big enough for a grown man to sit in

Still, those that are looking for a family sedan will be looking for a car with a big boot (Tick, 448litres). It easily swallowed Trevor Vd Ven seated. As well as interior space for mom, dad and kids/teenagers – Tick again – The new Jetta improves legroom due to increased length. It is comfortable with optional leather seats (I’d fit those) however I was a little disappointed with the amount of standard specifications. The interior is a direct lift from the Golf 6, so it’s a very nice place to be. There really is very little to fault, everything is well put together, and easy to understand.

They will also be looking for a safe vehicle, and the Jetta has always, in my opinion, felt like an incredibly safe vehicle. With no less than 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, tyre pressure monitors and ESP as standard across the range, you’re in good hands. The Highline adds steering wheel mounted controls, Semi-Auto climate control, Auto lights and wipers and a fairly large audio display.

interior - Standard VW stuff

The family man also wants to save some money, and the 118kW version does an excellent job of marrying performance and economy. Even I achieved a respectable 8.6litres/100km. Manufacturer claims just below 8l/100km. You’d get out around 650km+ on a 55litre tank.  Another VW trademark is a stable, quality ride. The latest gen-Jetta builds on the last one, and produces a great ride. Even though you’ll fall asleep looking at the exterior of the vehicle, you certainly won’t fall asleep driving. Something that the competition CANNOT come close to. Unfortunately they’ve employed the new electro-hydraulic power steering, which is great when parking (it lightens the steering) but I found it terrible at speed. It unfortunately also takes away from the driver’s experience due to the electronic assistance.

For R275 000, including a 3year 90 000km service plan but no optional bits, it’s fairly good value for money. It’s definitely still the class leader in terms of quality drive and interior, but looks as dull as an episode of Antiques Roadshow.

That said, VW could definitely add in leather and bluetooth at the price,  considering the Koreans, and Volvo are doing a lot more with less money.