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Volkswagen means in German language People’s Car. Adolf Hitler had a keen interest in cars even though he did not like to drive. In 1933, shortly after taking over as leader of Germany, he teamed up with Ferdinand Porsche to make changes to his original 1931 design to make it more suited for the working man, thus founding Volkswagen. Hans Ledwinka discussed his ideas with Ferdinand Porsche, who used many Tatra design features in the 1938 "KdFWagen", later known as the VW Käfer— or Volkswagen Beetle. On 22 June 1934, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche agreed to create the "People's Car" for Hitler.

Changes included better fuel efficiency, reliability, ease-of-use, and economically efficient repairs and parts. The intention was that ordinary Germans would buy the car by means of a savings scheme ("Fünf Mark die Woche musst Du sparen, willst Du im eigenen Wagen fahren" — "Save five Marks a week, if you want to drive your own car"), which around 336,000 people eventually paid into.

It was the beginning of a history the lead VW to be the single biggest car manufacturer in Europe. It’s the brand of the legendary Beetle and the Golf (see issue 297 for the test drive). The Beetle was produced in 22 Million (!) units between 1938 and 2003 and the Golf passed the 25 Million units in 2007.

The Passat model appeared in 1973. The body types offered originally were 2- and 4-door sedans and similar looking three- and five-door versions.

Externally all four shared a modern fastback style design, styled by the Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. In essence, the first Passat was a fastback version of the mechanically identical Audi 80 sedan, introduced a year earlier. It was such a good car model that it became the flag for VW for the saloon automotive sector..

Today, Volkswagen has introduced a new generation of this successful car, the Passat CC. The suffix CC stands for Comfort Coupé. It falls between the Passat and the Phaeton in VW's range — while based on the Passat and sharing its wheelbase, the CC is longer , lower and wider than the smaller sister. It sits in a niche segment in which I cannot see any serious competitors.

It looks really good especially from the side and the front. I like the 18 inches wheels which give the body an athletic character and elegant at the same time. It has a proper coupe’ shape with the presence of four doors and the comfort of a top class sedan. I am expecting a VW standard interior but I realize I am wrong. In fact you can find some fresh, detailed quality which brings this car to a level of at least the best Audi, as far as atmosphere while driving and the cure for details. All the modern features are offered and the commands are very rationally allocated in the cockpit. The seats are very good too with all the required adjustment you would expect from a higher class saloon. You feel like someone has thought about you and the time you will spend in this commuter.

We test the 2.0 Ltr turbo engine, capable of 197 bhp at 6,000 rpm. Again I am wrong since I expect poor performance from a relative small engine on such a fully loaded saloon. In fact the car is immediately expressing some young yet mature dynamics. It accelerates as if it was a Golf and it’s agile like a much smaller car. Power is available immediately when requested and the DSG gearbox is the usual perfect tool to manage torque and gear selection. The flawless gear shifting is so quick that I would never ask for a manual box on such a machine. Everything works as per the well known German standard. You cannot really find anything bad on this special saloon.

It also handles remarkably well. Yes, it is a long wheel base car which in theory means poor agility and great stability but again the engineers have found the right balance. The CC turns in reasonably quick in the bends even at a serious pace and then it keeps the trajectory helped by the generous size of the 18 inches tires. At the limit it becomes slightly under steering, which is completely normal and easy to adjust just by coming off the throttle for a second or two. I just would like a more sensitive steering but I am asking too much, I know.

This Passat CC has passed our examination without a doubt; it actually has surprised us for its maturity and its dynamics. It’s available now and it is a very interesting alternative to the usual Mercedes, BMW and Audis. Think about it.


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