I test drove a '13 CC Sport DSG followed by a '13 2.5 SE auto Passat, back to back.
First I hopped in the CC. The CC was nice and sporty as expected, but I was kind of surprised at the amount of noise that came through to the cabin; I LOVE the look of the CC, and maybe it was just the particular one I drove, but it didn't feel as well-built as it looked. It did handle nice, but it seemed almost fragile in terms of long-term durability/reliability. The 2.0T was decent, but I've come from American V8s so a 200 hp 4 isn't much to get excited about, but it was nice and plenty adequate for the car with good passing power at 75 mph. I know the 2.0T is one of VW's better engines. Overall I felt just a tad bit underwhelmed with the car as a whole, which almost seemed like a case of never meet your heroes. I walked away feeling like it's a really elegant car with a lot of curb appeal and great features, but it just didn't get me excited behind the wheel, for over thirty grand.
Then I hopped in the Passat. Roomier as expected (although it doesn't really matter when you are 5'5" like me, everything is roomy and comfortable and I suppose you could even say a car as big as a Passat is a clown car for someone my size), and great visibility all around. Easy to find a comfortable driving position even for a little guy like me. The seats seemed only so-so; I don't know how they would be on a 4 hour road trip, they just didn't feel that supportive, even with lumbar. The 2.5 is perfect in my wife's '12 Beetle, but in the Passat I feel like it's just a sandwich short of a picnic basket. It's like it just needs a bit more power all around, especially down low (I know the answer to this is a TDI). I found that off the line seemed to be where it struggled the most--just getting the car moving seemed like work for the engine, almost like you push the gas an inch before the car actually starts rolling ahead. But for an everyday tool around town car, it's a reliable engine for the masses and will serve most people just fine. Handling was not as good as the CC, a lot softer and more body roll through curves. Overall though I was impressed with the quality. I hate to say it but it almost seemed tighter and better built than the CC, without as much noise inside. This one did have Continental tires on it and not the Hankooks everyone moans about. FWIW I have Hankook Optimos on the wife's car and zero complaints?
One thing I couldn't shake though, was that when driving the Passat, I just couldn't help but feel like it was the textbook definition of transportation; if there were pictures in the dictionary, a picture of the Passat would be right next to the definition. Maybe that's attributed to being a 2.5 model which I know is the volume seller, but the reason I'm limiting myself to an SE is because at the price point of a TDI or a V6 car, I may as well buy a CC. An SE with sunroof can be had for around $23.5k, a good several thousand less than a CC. Then again that feeling may also be attributed to the fact that let's face it, the Passat (particularly the front) is a bit on the plain or understated side, depending on how you look at it. I do like the look of the car from the rear 3/4s in the sun with a nice metallic color highlighting that nice body line though.
I guess I was kind of trying to see if the CC was worth the added price tag. I love the looks and features of the CC (dying for a car with Xenons/LED tails) but the seemingly lower quality of the CC really surprised me. Equally as much though, the lack of power and feeling of basic transportation in the Passat is tough to get over. I also don't like how they nixxed the dual zone climate control on the '13 SE. Another thing with the Passat--I like the interior, but for some reason it seems really plain, almost like it doesn't have as many features as my wife's Beetle, when it pretty much does. I don't know if this is a placebo affect of the outside being kind of plain and therefore seeming like the inside is plain and lacking features when it's not, or if it's simply because the cabin is so large that there just doesn't look like as much stuff since it's not all cramped? I don't know, but I have no complaints with the interior either way. Just seems devoid of features even though I know that's not the case.
Thoughts? I'm really trying to like the Passat, and I'm really trying to like the $23.5k price point. My ideal Passat would be a TDI SE with sunroof and navigation, since I would get the diesel, the chrome trim and 18s on the outside, and still keep the aluminum trim inside, but like I said that's getting into the territory of lots of other cars. The test drive in the CC made me question the value at $30k+; it certainly seems hard to justify that much more coin over the Passat after today. Maybe neither the Passat nor the CC are the right car, I don't know. Kind of on the fence. I need a car though.