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Monday, April 22, 2013

Volkswagen CC

The Volkswagen CC is a mid-size four-door sedan with a coupe-like profile. The first car to bring the stylish four-door coupe body style to the more affordable mainstream market, the CC does sacrifice some practicality for its handsome look. Competing with a broad range of cars from the Nissan Altima to the Audi A4 and Volvo S60, the Volkswagen CC is now in the middle of its model run, recently updated for the 2013 model year.

Introduced for the 2009 model year and known initially as the Passat CC, the CC shared the underpinnings of the then-current and more familiar Passat sedan counterpart. The two share no body panels at all, however, with the CC's swept-back front end, sculpted body, and smoothly flowing roofline setting it apart. Today, against the larger and more square-cut Passat launched for 2012, it stands apart as even more distinctive--giving buyers of VW's mid-size sedans two polar opposites to choose from.

The Volkswagen CC is powered by a familiar engine used in many Audi and VW vehicles. It's the 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder known as the 2.0T. A six-speed manual gearbox (a rarity among mid-size sedans itself) is standard. Through 2009, the option was a six-speed automatic transmission; starting in 2010, that was replaced by VW's excellent Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automated manual.

Also available is a 280-hp VR6, a V-6 engine designed with a very narrow angle between its cylinder banks, for compact size. It comes only with the DSG. In practice, though, the VR6 doesn't feel notably faster or more powerful than the turbo four. If you want VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive, you'll have to opt for the VR6 first--and it'll cost you substantially more.

Overall, the CC is a capable, nice-handling sedan, with great ride quality—firm yet absorbent. To some, the steering a bit too light in feel, but overall, the CC typifies Volkswagen's firm, "German engineered" handling and rides and drives well.

The sleek lines of the CC do come at a price. As you might guess just looking at it, headroom is quite limited in back. But the interior is quite distinct from its last-generation Passat roots, with the appointments and trims of a much more luxurious vehicle and upgraded materials throughout. Taller adults will have trouble in the rear seat, even though the bucket seats back there are great, and the seating position will feel odd to some—with the low position causing visibility issues for some shorter drivers.

The first significant upgrade after the 2007 launch was in 2010, when the six-speed automatic was replaced across the board DSG automated manual. Bluetooth and an enhanced audio interface were made standard that year as well.

Then in 2013, the Volkswagen CC got a more significant update. It gained a new grille and front air dam, LED running lamps, and standard bi-xenon adaptive headlamps on the outside. Inside, VW refreshed the trim and cabin decor, and replaced the old two-position back seat with a three-position bench containing a fold-down armrest. Prices also rose appreciably.

Our favorite VW CC models remain the Sport, Sport Plus, and Lux four-cylinders, although many of the most desirable features, such as leather upholstery and premium audio, remained unavailable with the smaller engine. Of all the different CC variations, we recommend the base CC Sport, which comes well equipped with automatic climate control, heated seats, and an eight-speaker sound system. Though the VR6 and 4Motion models give you luxury levels of features and equipment, you'll face a sticker price of more than $40,000. For that money, you could get the additional dealer service that comes with an Acura, BMW, or even Mercedes-Benz.

Safety ratings for the CC haven't been perfect on all counts, but it has received all "good" scores from the IIHS and comes with stability control, side bags, and all the features good shoppers would look for in this segment. Rear side bags—one feature that's still quite rare—are optional.

A shooting brake version of the VW CC has been rumored, but not confirmed.

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