The Volkswagen Passat CC (called the Volkswagen CC in the U.S.) is by nearly all accounts a great-looking car. And now the smooth four-door coupe has won a prestigious red dot design award.
The top award for vehicles, officially "red dot Design Award 2009 – Best of the Best," in the product design category for 2009, is shared with the Seat Ibiza, from Volkswagen AG's Spanish affiliate.
Other vehicles to achieve a red dot design award—but not be called Best of the Best—include the 2009 BMW Z4, 2010 Honda Insight, upcoming 2010 Volkswagen Golf, and the European-market-only Ford Fiesta and Opel Insignia, with honorable mentions going to the Alfa Romeo MiTo, Toyota iQ, 2010 Kia Soul, and 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The red dot award is one of the world's most respected in the field of design. An international jury of designers and design experts reviews submissions and votes collectively for the award recipient. The awards are given in person each year at the Essen Aalto Theater in Germany, while the red dot design museum is nearby, housing the world's largest permanent exhibition of contemporary design.
Despite how well the design of the 2009 Volkswagen CC has been received, the U.S.-market response to the smooth sedan has been less than fervent. Volkswagen had planned to sell up to 25,000 CCs here annually, but its sales in the first five months of 2009, according to Automotive News, of 8,290, plus a few thousand sold in the last few months of 2008, are on track for a fraction of that.
For 2009, Volkswagen discontinued its VR6 models and 4Motion all-wheel drive models of the Passat and limited the more mainstream sedan to one simplified, well-equipped trim, the Komfort. Altogether, sales of the 2009 Volkswagen Passat and CC added together aren't close to what sales of the Passat alone were during the same five-month period last year.
So far it looks like the strategy hasn't worked so well.
Luckily VW sales numbers in the U.S. are being saved by the popularity of TDI diesel models. Raw sales of the Jetta are down only slightly versus last year despite the market slide; a whopping 81 percent of Jetta SportWagens were sold with the TDI engine this past month, according to VW, while 40 percent of Jetta sedans and 29 percent of Touareg SUVs were sold with diesels.
Why aren't people turning to the comparably priced Passat CC instead of the Passat? For one, there's no TDI option in the Passat, though Volkswagen of America president and CEO Stefan Jacoby recently told TheCarConnection.com that there will be one with the 2012-model-year U.S.-built replacement for the Passat. For a more complete answer, we've just spent a week with a 2009 Volkswagen CC, so stay tuned for our updated impressions. In the meantime, you can find our Bottom Line assessment, along with pictures, specs, and more here at TheCarConnection.com.