[Review] Behind the wheels of the #Volkswagen CC R-Line

Happy new year to all! The 2013 year of the snake is gone in the blink of an eye and we’re now transiting into the year of the horse! And so, while you’re munching and feasting away on pineapple tarts and bak kwas, allow me to power you into the year of the horse with this new review of yet another technological wonder in the car world.

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Many of you would remember the Volkswagen Passat CC – one of Volkswagen’s better selling sedans among it’s fleet. The Passat CC identifies itself as one of a kind – a sleek, sporty, yet luxurious car that provides you with both adrenaline and comfort at the same time.

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In a twist of names and technology, the Passat CC reverted back into two different models – the original Passat (leaning on it’s long history since 1970s), and the all-new CC. And to add on to the touch of sportiness, Volkswagen now only brings the CC R-Line into Singapore. Tailored for performance, they say. *swoons*

Random fact: Did you know that CC actually stands for Comfort Coupe?

Designed by Volkswagen R GmbH, the flashy CC will not fail to capture attention on the roads. Perhaps not as much as when you rev down the streets with a prancing horse, but subtle enough to still make heads turn.

I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the CC R-Line for a couple of days – and I must say I was indeed awed by this lean 210 bhp machine.

Exterior

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Similar to the rest of it’s siblings in the R-Line family, the CC R-Line boosts an equal amount of fierceness and sportiness as the Scirocco R and the Golf R. Take a glance and you’ll notice the new and more aggressive front air intake, giving it an “open-mouth” instead of a gentler and sweeter image.

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The R package also allows you to enjoy the 18″ R-Line “Mallory” rims which aids in the stability and looks of the already menacing car.  These add-ons, as compared to it’s rather plain-looking normal-ranged variants, are exactly what made heads turn during the 3 days I had this beauty (let’s not go into power first shall we :P).

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While the CC R-Line packs a 2 litre engine beneath it’s hood, the car does not feel any bigger, especially for young adults like myself. While it might be on par and level with that of an E-Class or Honda Accord, this is certainly no “uncle” car, but rather, one that youngsters can identify themselves with. But of course, by that, I don’t mean 18-year-olds who just passed their driving.

Perched just beneath Volkswagen’s flagship Phaeton in it’s line-up, the CC R-Line impresses both in the aesthetic as well as the quality departments. Frameless windows allow for a more sportier look, and the car also comes with intelligent features and technology such as the Keyless Entry and Start-Stop System (KESSY). A grip on the door handle unlocks your car, and a touch or swipe again locks it – all without the use of a button or a key.

Another feature I felt was extremely useful was the “Easy Open” sensor-controlled boot compartment system. A swipe of your foot under the boot activates a sensor which then springs open the boot lid, allowing easy access without having to put down your barang barang and manually open the boot. Came in particularly useful when I went shopping and had my hands full of bags. Swipe foot, dump bags, and we’re done!

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And while we’re at the boot, golfers would be pleased to note that it’s capable of holding 3 full golf bags (and perhaps even your small clothes bags for a bath!).

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As the top of range CC, the car also comes standard with one of my favourite features – Bi-xenon headlamps for both low and high beams, as well as a separate daytime running light system, which I felt greatly added to the look of the car. Like other more prominent DRLs around (e.g. Mercedes Benz and BMW), one look in your mirror and you’ll know it’s a Volkswagen behind you. :)

There’s a panoramic sunroof too, although it’s confined to just tilting up and down because of the curved roof of the car. You can’t slide it fully open to enjoy a starry starry night, but you certainly can tilt it to help cool down or air the car, especially nowadays when the winds are so cooling (and yes, dusty too).

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The car also comes with quite a bit of exterior technology and features, though it’ll probably be too long to feature all here. But of course, what’s an R-Line without the badge?

Interior

Now if you think the exterior’s features are awesome, take a step into a whole new level inside. Personally, I don’t really like the black Nappa leather colour scheme – you also have the option to opt for a desert biege interior trim, which I feel is a little more luxurious compared to their black schemes. But that aside, you’ll soon realise that their attention to detail inside the car is impeccable.

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The R-Line steering wheel gives you a more sporty feel compared to the rest in it’s class, making for easier cornering and turning. As usual and similar to other continentals, the signal’s located on the left, and the aluminium trims on the wheels and dash fortunately do not make the car look cheap (I know of cars with aluminium trims and yet do look cheap).

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The CC R-Line comes standard with Volkswagen’s RNS 510 navigation system, complete with a 6.5″ touch screen. It apparently has a 30GB hard disk drive as well as MP3/DVD playback capabilities. The system needs a little bit of getting used to (especially the nav part), but once you’re familiar with it, it’s almost like you have it at the back of your fingertips.

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Fret not if you’re also coming in on a very hot day – both front seats now offer ventilation cooling with adjustable speeds – probably a feature you won’t use much in Singapore, but a good to have in case your butt heats up too much from the scorching Singapore weather.

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Just in case you’re also aching from a game of tennis, you’d be amazed to know that the driver seat also includes a massage function. Only for your lower back though – and it’s not as comfortable as your OSIM chairs haha! Yet another “won’t-use-but-won’t-kill-to-have” feature.

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KESSY also comes with a “Press and Drive” starting function – giving you ease while starting your CC R-Line. Depress the brake, push a button, and you’ll instantly fire the 1,984 cc turbocharged engine to life.

If there’s a feature that would awe quite a number of drivers, the CC R-Line comes standard with “Park Assist”aka auto-parking. Yes you read it right. A push of a button and you only control the pedals – the car does the turning for you. Quite scary though – the first time I tried it, I wasn’t very confident about it – but I guess as they say, learn to trust your car. And yes, it’s parking estimation is definitely way better than most of us here. :P

Here’s a video demonstrating the Park Assist feature:

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And because of it’s framless windows, the CC R-Line suffers from what other coupes and roadsters share in common – increased road noise. Vibrations and road/tyre noise are quite evident while cruising (especially on some of our not-so-good expressways), but perhaps this is inevitable – the price you pay for the 4-door coupe.

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Speaking of coupes, the CC R-Line seats 4 comfortably, but 5 might be a tad squeezy, especially for the poor one right at the centre. If you’re taller above perhaps 1.7 metres, you might get a little bit claustrophobic in the rear. And if you’re intending to take more than 2 tall adults on frequent road trips, perhaps the Passat would be a better and more comfortable choice.

The drive

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Volkswagen has a history and capability of producing kick-ass technology which incorporates power and fuel efficiency together. My previous test with the Golf Mk 7 left me dumbfounded when my fuel gauge didn’t move at all after a day of revving.

With the CC R-Line, it’s no different.

The 210 bhp engine propels you from 0 to 100 in 7.3 seconds as what the paper says, but I’d give it an additional 0.3 seconds leeway according to my own test. The 6 speed DSG gearbox is a tad scary, especially with the recent DSG problems faced by other Volkswagen owners, but I still say this is really a matter of heng-suay (luck). This car, I felt, could do better with the new 7 speed DSG, and might even be more fuel efficient if you put that in.

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280 Nm of torque kicks you off from any traffic light at just 1,700 rpm, and you’re easily ahead of others by the time you look back into the rear view mirror. This proves the same when attempting to cut lanes, a blip of the peddle and you change seamlessly – not afraid of any acceleration lag you may have as a result of your downshift.

And because of the size of the car, you’d often think that you’re travelling at 80 when you’re in fact already past what seemed to be the speed limit.

Cornering was awesome on this front-wheel drive car. I wouldn’t say there’s zero understeer, but instead, negligible. The car, with it’s low height profile at slightly more than 1.4 metres, compensates for any body roll especially on tight corners such as on South Buona Vista Road.

And for a 2 litre turbocharged engine, it drinks surprisingly little for a performance car it’s class. It might not be as efficient as it can be, given that it’s an R-Line and also that it only has 6 gears, but if my calculations do not fail me, I got an average reading of 7-8 litres / 100 km, which is impressive for a car it’s class.

(Note: 7-8 L/100 km was based on an average RPM reading of 4,000 and above. You figure it out yourself :P)

Conclusion

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Ever since the Passat CC was launched, Volkswagen entered into the realm of sporty yet luxurious cars. I feel the CC R-Line amplifies it’s standing in that realm. The upscale adjustments to it’s features and technology packs it well above it’s competitors.

But cool looks and sheer performance does come at a price. At S$203,300, the CC-R Line comes dangerously close to an Audi/BMW/Mercedes territory, where some of the hardcore luxury fanatics would prefer over any Volkswagen car. However, if you’re less picky or bent on luxury details, or one who’s more keen on legroom, aesthetics, features and power, the Volks would perhaps be the perfect car for you.

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What I like…

  • Loaded with features and the latest technology
  • High performance engine beneath the hood
  • Looks impressive with a tinge of both sportiness and luxury
  • Responsiveness of the engine coupled with the fuel efficiency (how often do you get power + fuel savings in one combination?)

What I don’t like…

  • The price tag – it’s too close for comfort to an Audi or Beemer
  • Road noise

The Volkswagen CC R-Line is currently priced at S$203,300 inclusive of COE. All information and prices are correct at time of publication of this review.

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