Short Take Road Test: 2009 Volkswagen CC 3.6 4MOTION
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By Tony Quiroga of Car and Driver
Are Volkswagen's moves upmarket in complete contradiction to the brand's populist roots? The now-defunct, expensive VW Phaeton sedan is often viewed as a radical move aimed away from the masses. But if the Phaeton had worn a more prestigious brand name, it conceivably could have been deemed a value. In fact, the Phaeton forms the basis for the Bentley Continental lineup, which starts at $180,395, a sum that is rarely questioned. If we regard the Phaeton as a Bentley for the masses, then the car makes sense as a Volkswagen.
Like the Phaeton before it, the CC 3.6 4MOTION drew its share of raised eyebrows when our test car's $42,630 price was revealed. But the CC's superficial similarity to another German car had us wondering if Volkswagen had created a Mercedes-Benz CLS for the people. After all, the CLS550 starts at an eye-watering $72,875.
Volkswagen has followed the CLS's five-step formula to the letter. Step one: Start with a conventional sedan. Just as the E-class begot the CLS, the CC is based on the conservative Passat. Step two: Dress up the exterior and interior. This step requires a low-slung roofline, a slippery body, frameless door glass, a dolled-up interior, and a reduction in the seating capacity from five to four. Step three: Insist that despite its four doors, the creation is somehow a coupe. Repeat as necessary until the public is convinced. Step four: To save money, leave the running gear alone. Step five: Try to keep a straight face while charging considerably more money for your new "coupe."
The formula worked for Mercedes. But we must conclude that despite its similarity to the far pricier CLS, the $42,630 CC is too expensive to be considered a value — even against a Benz.
We can't complain about the 280-hp, direct-injection 3.6-liter VR6 that propels the all-wheel-drive CC to 60 mph in a drama-free 6.2 seconds. A 231-pound-lighter front-drive Passat 3.6 we tested took 5.9 seconds [December 2005]. We also can't take issue with the refined controls, the solid structure, and the firm ride of the CC, which stuck to the skidpad with 0.88 g of grip. Aside from some wind noise around those frameless windows, the CC driving experience is nearly indistinguishable from that of the Passat with the 3.6-liter engine, a configuration that is gone for 2009.
Our big problem with the CC 3.6 4MOTION is the existence of the $27,480 CC 2.0T with a six-speed manual. Despite an 80-hp deficit, the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder version retains the look of the 3.6-liter version and, of course, keeps its inescapable resemblance to the CLS. The four-cylinder model removes the CC from the stratosphere of BMW and Audi, back to the place where the Accord, the Camry, and the Malibu play. Set against a family-sedan backdrop, the CC's beautiful bod makes it a standout in a segment stacked with forgettable styling. And in pricing the four-cylinder CC, VW seems to have ignored the step that requires charging more for style, as the CC 2.0T actually costs $410 less than a comparably equipped Passat. So unless you need that fifth seat, you can now take the Passat off your shopping list. And in regard to the CC 3.6-liter's disturbingly high price, we predict low sales. On the other hand, the CC 2.0T may well strike a chord with buyers as it is the base model that is truly the people's CLS.