Volkswagen CC — Is this the best looking VW ever?

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Volkswagen CC is our kind of car. It makes a personal statement we agree with.

It’s a sleek, stylish four-passenger sedan — Volkswagen calls it the “Comfort Coupe,” hence the CC tag — that sets it apart from the standard Volkswagen offerings, and most everything else on the road with four doors.

It has four contoured bucket seats. Much like a recent special-edition Nissan Maxima, it has a center console in the rear giving riders a more individualized experience. And perhaps we like it because it looks a lot like the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz CLS, but at a fraction of the cost.

Purchased in the right configuration, the CC is also economical to drive and reasonably priced coming off the showroom floor.

This being said, the CC is not for everyone. In fact the CC, which is built on the mid-sized Passat platform and contains most of the Passat bits and pieces including engine choices, is probably for a very few.

For instance, families with more than two children need not apply. And if you need to haul more than four people at a time, look elsewhere. But for us empty nesters who only need four very comfortable seating compartments at any one time and enough trunk room for two golf bags or a half dozen assorted carry-on bags and suitcases, the CC is a very effective statement. And it looks great in the driveway.

The roofline flows in an eye-pleasing curve in a coupe-like manner. A dramatic side character line rises from front to back accentuating the car’s glossy appearance. The headlights neatly wrap around the sleek- looking front end.

This may be the best looking Volkswagen in the company’s history.

Like a beautiful woman, it’s easy to forgive some faults. Faults, in this case is part of the design just as it is in the CLS. You will have to duck your head to clear the radically sloping windshield in the front and alter your entrance into the rear seats because of the dramatically curving rear glass.

When we first encountered the CLS at its introduction we were frustrated with the entry and egress, although we’re not 6-footers we are blessed with long torsos. That made getting in and out a challenge. Fortunately the VW CC, even though it mimics the shape of the CLS, was much friendlier and allowed for a much better experience. We caution again that you will need to watch your noggin but you won’t have to bend like a contortionist.

Also be advised in tight parking situations that the doors, which open wide for easier entry and exit are very large and somewhat weighty so don’t hit the car next to you.

Once behind the wheel, the CC does not disappoint. In fact, we were rather awed at the thought of such an attractive car rewarding its driver and passengers with attractive and inviting living quarters. The leather-clad bucket seats in all four corners of our test car proved as comfortable as our favorite living room chair and the high- grade materials and impeccable fit and finish made for a relaxing environment.

We like the two-tone look leather chairs in some editions, but we had no quarrel with all black as found in our test sedan. We also had no problem with the polished aluminum look trim pieces as opposed to what some might consider more luxurious wood. Are we gushing with too much praise for this beauty? 

Perhaps, but it’s easy to become a cheerleader after spending a week behind the wheel.
Because the CC is based on the Passat sedan, it comes with the same decent legroom front and back as the Passat. The sloping roof, which is two inches lower than the Passat, makes headroom a bit tighter in back, but we found for passengers about six-foot and under headroom wasn’t much of an issue. It was, in fact, surprisingly generous.
The rounded configuration of the roof forces another compromise of sorts. The large glass sunroof does not open, but simply rises up in back for air flow. That’s no problem with us. We very seldom open a sunroof eschewing wind noise and unwanted hair disruption (as if we had hair!).

The front-driven CC comes with two engine configurations starting at $27,480 including destination charge. If your tastes run more toward a spirited V-6 and all-wheel drive, the CC obliges starting at $38,990.

The affordable base price will bring you the very lively and rewarding Volkswagen 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 200 horsepower and 207 pound-foot of torque. The engine is used extensively by VW, and it is indeed one of the sweetest four-bangers on the market.

Volkswagen has made a six-speed manual transmission available with the engine, which will appeal to only a small percentage of buyers. But we applaud Volkswagen for offering this choice in such a standout sedan.

In automatic mode, the 2.0-liter is rated at a frugal 19 mpg city and 29 on the highway and can complete a 0-to-60 run in just a couple ticks over seven seconds. In this configuration the CC accomplished all of its tasks with ease including back country roads and changes of elevation as much as 2000 feet and more. It absolutely felt more powerful and quicker than its powertrain might indicate.

Moving up, the CC VR6 comes with 3.6-liter engine producing 280 horsepower and 265-foot-pounds of torque. It offers exhilarating performance with 0-to-60 times of around six seconds and quarter mile times as measured by one auto publication of 14.5 seconds at 98.2 mph. And as with the 2.0-liter the VR6 didn’t miss a beat. It was tight, fast and had excellent handling.

The downsides to the V-6 are obvious; purchase price and gas mileage (18/27) compared to the four-cylinder.

If you want all-wheel drive, a desirable configuration in cold-weather climates, the CC VR6 4Motion starts at $39,990. Gas mileage suffers slightly at 17/25.

Our pick of the litter would be the CC Luxury with the four-cylinder engine starting at $32,680 including destination charge. In addition to considerable standard equipment on all models, the luxury package adds front and rear park assist, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, leather seating, the large tilt-only sunroof, automatic wipers, and satellite radio.

Standard features include alloy wheels, heated front seats, automatic up/down windows on all doors and an eight-speaker stereo with six-CD changer. Standard safety includes a full compliment of airbags, antilock brakes and traction and stability control.

Our top-line test car CC VR6 4Motion came with a $2,640 technology package that included navigation and rear-view camera. We found the navigation easy to use and we were delighted with the satellite radio read-out on the navigation screen. Bottom line on our test car was $42,630.

As noted above, we could live very happily with the 4-cylinder Luxury edition. We would be tempted to add navigation bringing the bottom line to $35,320. In fact, if our budget dictated a lower purchase price, we would have little trouble sacrificing the navigation system, content just adding the stand-alone premium 600-watt audio system for a thousand bucks.

We like the fact Volkswagen makes a very acceptable and equally attractive CC for less than 30 grand, but offers the best of everything to the person who doesn't mind forking over 40 big ones.

No matter how you go, the CC is a very alluring package.

Base price: $27,480 (2.0 Turbo); as driven, $42,630
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6
Horsepower: 280 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 265 foot-pounds @ 2,750 rpm
Drive: all-wheel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Seating: 2/2
Wheelbase: 106.7 inches
Length: 188.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,854 pounds
Turning circle: 35.8 feet
Luggage capacity: 13 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 25 mpg highway, 17 city
0-60: 6.1 seconds (MotorWeek)
Also consider: Hyundai Genesis, Nissan Maxima, Lexus ES 350

The Good:
• Sleek exterior styling
• Luxurious well-made interior
• Energetic and fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine available

The Bad:
• Styling is clear case of form over function

The Ugly:
• Very pricey at high end