2013 Volkswagen CC
When Volkswagen launched its sporty CC in 2009 it went head-to-head with its own Passat, which was then a dowdy midsize sedan that was in need of a restyling.
Now, Passat is coming off a face-lift last year to thin its body to blend more with the other midsize sedans that sell well: Toyota’s Camry, Honda’s Accord, Ford’s Fusion and Chevrolet’s Malibu. So the CC, which VW calls a coupe, but is indeed a midsize sport sedan, stands out as a distinct step up from Passat.
CC is sleek with a sweptback rear window and trunk lid giving the car a coupe-like appearance, despite its four doors. Its profile is low and lean.
It rides on a 106.7-inch wheelbase and weighs 3,367 pounds, just 200 more than the Passat, which aims for a mellower ride on a 110.4-inch wheelbase. The front-drive CC feels light and lively, with exceptional handling for a midsize sedan, with just a touch of understeer, less than you get with most midsize cars. There’s good steering feedback with the electromechanical power steering, so you feel in total control. The CC was steady in hard turns and remains flat as you run through corners at speeds up to 40 mph. Ride is well controlled with a multi-link rear sport suspension giving it a sporty edge.
Power is kicky at 200 horsepower and comes on in a hurry via a turbocharger that pumps up the small 2.0-liter I4 engine. In normal city driving you’ll hear a little growl from the 2.0-liter as it works a little harder to get things rolling until the turbo kicks in. There is a slight hesitation and I sometimes felt a slight shudder when I first got on the accelerator. That’s not a big thing, because once you stomp the pedal you rocket forward.
If you want considerably more power, there is the higher level CC with VW’s 280-horse V-6. Unless you plan to race, the turbo I4 will do you just fine and gets good fuel economy. I managed 26.3 mpg in about a 50/50 mix of city and highway. The EPA rates this 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
Brakes are strong four-wheel discs with ABS and both traction and stability control.
As much as I like CC’s performance and exterior styling, the interior is one of my favorites from the past several years. It’s simple, elegant and functional, with a luxury sedan look due to its two-tone dash and leatherette seats. The test car came with a black over tan interior and the leatherette seats will convince most friends you’ve splurged for leather, although it’s not. The front seats feature three-level heaters.
To accent that two-tone dash there’s a straight narrow band of matte chrome trim on the doors, dash and center stack. This creates a classy look, although the tan portion of the dash has little texture to it and appears and feels cheap. That doesn’t really fit with the rest of the car’s stellar interior.
Seats are incredibly well shaped with good side bolsters top and bottom and highly adjustable power settings. This one adjusted easily with power controls, including lumbar adjustments.
The rear seat is a standard bench with fold-down center armrest. The earlier CC model had split bucket “sport” seats in back, making the car suitable for only four passengers. This one will carry five adults and features good legroom front and rear.
What I love about the dash is how simple and accessible everything is, without the usual explosion of buttons and giant screens. The two main gauges are round and feature black backgrounds with white numbers. Between the gauges is a simple digital readout for the trip computer, a clock and compass. The CC’s center screen, which is only for a radio in this model, no navigation, has buttons on either side of it to select AM, FM, Satellite, etc. I wish all carmakers would imitate this system, although I might boost the size of the radio volume control knob.
Out back, under that attractive trunk lid is a deep 13.0 cubic foot trunk. This will haul your family’s gear on a long trip. On short ones when you need to carry longer items, the back seat has a pass-through and both sides of the rear seat will fold flat. I also like that the visors slide to block side sun, there are two cup holders and two triangular cubbies in the center console, for phones, pens, etc. The key fob also has a docking port in the dash, so you can insert it and push it to start the car, eliminating the problem of what to do with a large remote key fob once in the car.
The side windows lower themselves slightly when you open and shut the doors, relieving air pressure and allowing the four doors to close more easily. In the previous CC that I drove, the windows did not always go back to the full up position. These worked fine.
Pricing is a bit of a premium over the more sedate Passat, starting at $31,710 for this, the near base Sport with a lighting package. Add $820 delivery and the metallic brown test car was $32,530. A base Passat starts at $20,845 with VW’s 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine that creates 170 horses. Passat also is available with the 280-horse V-6 that comes in upper level CC models.
For drivers who want a bit more sportiness in both looks and performance, CC is a worthy step up from Passat and a good competitor for Toyota’s Avalon. VW says it is aiming at Acura’s TSX, Buick’s Regal and Infiniti’s G models. As tested, the CC aims at the value end of those lineups. Move up to the V-6-powered CC and the base price moves to $37,730. Add 4Motion, VW’s all-wheel-drive system, and the entry price jumps to $41,420.
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