But the German company is hoping the CC will finally allow it to join the elite group of manufacturers who dominate mid-size premium motoring across Europe.
Longer, wider and lower than its stablemate that’s been a fleet benchmark for more than a decade, the dashingly attractive Comfort Coupé looks to have every chance of making that wish come true.
Plush and wearing a distinctly upmarket air, the car is every bit as functional as the saloon it is based on but with totally different bodywork – even the wing mirrors and bootlid badge have been changed – it becomes the smartest Volkswagen yet.
And with a back seat strictly for two, it is also remarkably different on the inside.
“We have a new dimension with this car and I don’t think there’s anything quite like it.
The concept of a 2+2 with four doors and four full-size seats is certainly different.
“Despite the decline in the D-sector, we still sold around 30,000 Passats last year because the perception of Volkswagen is sufficiently above those of the volume makers for us to have an association with the premium sector.
There’s no doubt the CC takes us a little bit further in that direction,” said product manager Andrew Waite.
While he is confident the car will interest traditional premium buyers, Waite accepts the likelihood that 45% of Passat saloon customers will switch to the new model.
“But that’s not the point.
The 2,500 sales we expect this year and 5,000 in 2009 will leave us with net gains and – crucially – drive us further upmarket.
This is all about expanding the brand,” he said.
Two trim levels will be offered and three petrol and two diesel engines will be available at launch with 2.0-litre TSI and 1.8-litre DSG automatic versions arriving before the end of the year.
Specification promises to be rich, with even the lead-in car boasting sports suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, climatronic air conditioning, power front seats, touchscreen CD and a multifunction steering wheel. GT versions will add adaptive chassis control, 18-inch. wheels, carbon-look interior trim, tinted windows and front fog lights.
Price: £21,000–£31,120 (est)
Engines: 1.8-litre 157bhp, 2.0-litre 197bhp, 3.6-litre V6 297bhp; 2.0-litre diesel, 137bhp and 167bhp
Transmission: 6 sp man; 7 sp DSG
Performance: 0-62: 9.8–5.6 sec; top speed 132–155mph
Efficiency: 48.7–27.9mpg; 153-242g/km CO2
Rivals: Volkswagen Passat saloon, Volvo S80
Strengths: Style, innovative packaging, road presence