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Volkswagen unveils Passat CC

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The Volkswagen Passat CC might look like the bastard offspring of a shady encounter between a Phaeton and a CLS, but the German firm is hoping the new Passat spin-off will attract buyers after premium car style for a relatively affordable price.

When it hits UK showrooms in late summer 2008, expect the four-seat, four-door CC – it stands for Comfort Coupe – to have a sticker price starting at around £19,000. This will make it less than half the price of its most affordable rival, the Mercedes CLS.

Following a cheesy launch that included VW North America’s chief Stefan Jacoby extracting golf clubs from the boot with the help of a gratuitously pretty model, the car graced VW’s Detroit Motor Show stand in both grey and black. The shape, based on the regular Passat floorpan with which it shares its wheelbase, suits the bolder dark colour better.

Despite the high waistline and a new profile that’s 50mm lower than the regular Passat, there’s still more than enough headroom in the rear for a six-footer. And as Jacoby’s pantomime proved, the 31mm increase in length means the boot is still a decent size.

The Passat CC will come with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines. They include a new 1.8-litre TSI developing 158bhp, a 2.0-litre TSI pumping out 197bhp and the top model, a hot four-wheel drive 3.6-litre R36 version. There will also be the pair of 2.0-litre diesel versions currently on offer in the regular Passat with 138 or 166bhp.

Designed to appeal to enthusiastic drivers, the CC comes with VW’s Dynamic Drive Control. This features three settings for comfort, normal or sport and modifies the behaviour of the dampers and the electro-mechanical steering according to the driver’s preferences.