2011 Volkswagen CC

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Review: 2009 Volkswagen CC

This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By Tom Wilson of MSN Autos
Rating: 9.3

Bottom Line:

Volkswagen deletes a seat and adds chopped-top sex appeal to refocus the Passat on the entry-level luxury market. The result is an inviting, attractively priced near-luxury sedan.
Pros:
  • Attractive value
  • Superior aerodynamics, good efficiency
  • Huge trunk, quality materials
Cons:
  • Limited rear side vision, snubbed rear headroom
  • Numb steering mars fine handling
  • Paddle shifters would help

CC is an acronym for Comfort Coupe. Unfortunately, it doesn't make much sense in this case, since Volkswagen's CC is a stylish 4-door, 4-passenger sedan. But that's possibly the only thing about this car that doesn't make sense. Derived from the already enjoyable 5-passenger Passat, the CC offers rakish chopped-top looks and luxury trim to please buyers ranging from aspiring youth to empty-nesters. Its good looks, pleasing power and quietly assured driving dynamics are accompanied by the greatest luxury — affordable pricing.

Trim Choices
A junior luxury car with sporting intentions, the CC rocks a full house of finery in standard Sport trim. Soft leather greets the hands on the steering wheel and shifter, plus there's enough brightwork and sophistication in the design and materials to set an upscale coffeehouse mood. Meanwhile, the sharply sloping roofline and narrow windows suggest performance is on hand.

The Sport trim includes a 6-disc CD changer, an MP3 jack, three power outlets, plus 12- and 8-way powered and heated driver and passenger seats. It's a trim level that feels better than its equipment list would suggest. Much of this is thanks to VW's sharp design staff, but generous seat travel and a galactically telescoping steering column help say Volkswagen is truly interested in your comfort.

Selecting the Luxury trim improves life by refining the climate control to dual-zone, adding a navigation system, moonroof, rain-sensing wipers and other small touches. It's all good, but finger the abacus first, as the cost-benefit ratio may tilt towards the nicely equipped Sport trim. This is especially true of the moonroof. It tilts but does not slide open, in deference to the sloping roof, nor does its sunshade completely block all light. You could decide the better headroom in the less expensive Sport is more desirable.

Opting for V6 power allows choosing between VR6 Sport and VR6 4Motion trims. The VR6 Sport delivers all of the 4-cylinder Sport and Luxury trim amenities, plus 18-inch wheels, a power rear window sunshade and both high- and low-beam xenon headlamps. The 4Motion uses a different 18-inch wheel and adds the all-wheel-drive hardware.

Under the Hood
With two engines to choose from, CC buyers have a straightforward choice in powertrains. The standard 2.0-liter 4-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder is easily the sportier choice. Its 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque sparkle in the mid and upper ranges while minimizing front-end weight for superior ride and handling. The optional 280 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque in the 3.6-liter V6 is VW's narrow-angle VR design. More immediate torque right off idle is nearly its sole benefit in the CC.

Both engines may be paired with either 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions. The automatic offers the usual floor-mounted shifting, a more aggressive sport mode or Tiptronic manual gear selection.

For slippery winter pavement, VW's 4Motion employs full-time four-wheel drive using a viscous fluid coupling. Offered only with the V6 and designed to operate normally in front-wheel drive, 4Motion automatically shuttles power to the rear wheels when the fronts slip. While it's a big help in snow, heavy rain and other low-traction situations, 4Motion is not an aid to dry-pavement handling.

Inner Space
Athletically trimmed luxury describes the CC interior, which is pleasantly airy in front and cozy in back, especially so for tall folks because of the sharply sloping roof. In short, it's just right for a couple, with utility to take a second couple to dinner or the kids a longer distance. Long doors help rear access past the low roof, but hinder car seat operations in tight parking lots. A trunk pass-through, large armrest and nifty drink holder with sliding cover show the designers didn't quit at the front seats.

Everyone will enjoy the upscale materials — even the vinyl is inviting — and no one will fault the design. Fore and aft room is excellent for front seaters; tall people should check the headroom; and elbow room is close, but acceptable. The seats may prove thin in the bottom cushion to the bony; the two-level lumbar support is simultaneously aggressive and passive, but lateral support is great. VW's sensible glove-box-mounted MP3 connection and shelf are present, and the GPS navigation system uses a standard size touch-screen. We'd prefer dedicated audio controls, but admit the center console is nicely uncluttered.

In Sport trim the CC's interior is a strong contender.

On the Road
Impressive aerodynamics squelches wind noise and helps make the car an impressive freeway charger. Both engines provide plenty of thrust, with the V6 posting insignificantly better numbers, but the turbo-four feels sportier and in many cases faster. Interestingly, the 4-cylinder is quieter at idle and rips a sweet tune through the fast-shifting gears. With less front-end weight, the 4-cylinder is a little more precise in the steering, transitions faster on twisty roads, rides better and gets an additional couple of miles out of a gallon of gasoline.

The only mentionable downside to the turbo-four is occasional softness in response, typically the first few feet from a standing start or when asking for lane-change power on the freeway, yet even these are not frustrating.

Open road trips pass enjoyably in the CC, with easy city manners thanks to its size. Rear seaters are welcome, but can't miss that they came in second to the roof's sexy downward sweep, so the rear pew is ultimately best for children or occasional adult guests.

We preferred the 4-cylinder's sportiness and, curiously, its quieter idle. The V6 is smooth and hardly noisy, but simply has more presence at idle. All CCs are smooth, intelligent automatic shifters, quiet and plushly well-connected to the pavement.

Right for You?
Value and luxury are a difficult combination, but Volkswagen's CC manages the trick without straining. Starting at $26,790, the 4-cylinder Sport delivers the CC's rakish looks, if not a huge increase in luxury perks over a standard Passat. It's a good value and offers the maximum zip in the CC line. If rear-seat room isn't a major concern but appearance is, the Sport delivers.

Moving to the Luxury at $31,990 gains a no-excuses near-luxury coupe . . . er, sedan. It's well-equipped and about $2,000 less than the competition, making it a good buy. It's definitely the happy CC combination and the expected volume seller.

If the 6-cylinder is important, the VR6 Sport demands $38,300, a massive price jump for modest gains in smoothness, performance and equipment. Likewise, the VR6 4Motion is large money for winter security at $39,300, but on the other hand is a relatively rare combination of looks, luxury and grip.

Ultimately, the emotionally attractive CC peaks in 4-cylinder Luxury form, but backs up its appeal with the fully capable 4Motion 6-cylinder for those not stopping for winter.

Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson's credits include local racing championships, three technical engine books and hundredsof freelance articles.

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BB04 - 9/20/2014 5:04:43 PM