Streamlined CC Sport shows what VW can do
When Volkswagen launched its sporty CC in 2009 it went head-to-head with its own Passat, at the time a dowdy midsize sedan that was in need of a restyling.
Now, Passat is coming off a facelift last year to thin it’s body to blend more with the other mid-size 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, if performance and looks tickle your lederhosen.
CC is sleek with a swept-back rear window and trunk lid giving the car a coupe-like appearance, despite its four doors. Its profile is low and lean, so low in fact that I could stand with my arm resting on its roof and not even strain a tendon. Not many cars are this streamlined looking and the CC actually is more exciting looking in person than in even VW’s press photos.
It rides on a 106.7-inch wheelbase and weighs in at 3,367 lbs., 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, but less than you get with most mid-size cars. There’s good steering feedback with the electro-mechanical 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 horses and comes on in a hurry via a turbocharger that pumps up the power on a 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 tromp the pedal you rocket forward, if speed is required.
Yet if you demand considerably more power, there is the option of moving to a higher level CC with VW’s 280-horse V6. Unless you plan to race, the turbo I4 will do you just fine and gets good fuel economy too. 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. Plus 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. I didn’t notice the problem I had with the CC I’d driven in 2009, the driver’s seat front edge being too high. This one adjusted easily with power controls, including lumbar adjustments.
Note too that 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. This is the perfect layout. I wish all car makers would imitate this system, although I might boost the size of the radio volume control knob.Sadly, there’s no rearview backup camera to feature in the screen. I would expect either that or navigation at this price, with the camera being the more useful of the two on a daily basis.
But there are radio and cruise buttons on the manual tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub.
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 cupholders 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.
Note too that 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 I drove, the windows did not always go back to the full up position. These worked fine.
One important Wisconsin note, the car’s low profile makes it extremely easy to scrape ice from both the front and rear windows, with barely a need to bend at the waist. Many cars and crossovers are so tall that scraping the entire windshield is difficult, unless you’re a 6-footer.
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 V6 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 V6-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.
FAST Stats: 2013 Volkswagen CC Sport w/Lighting package
Hits: Great looking exterior with sleek low profile and stylish, elegant interior. Good power, responsive handling and excellent ride and road feel. Seats are well shaped, controls are easy to see and figure out, trunk is deep, gas mileage is good.
Misses: No backup camera or navigation system at $32 grand. Less than attractive engine growl and hesitation at city speeds along with slight shudder as you accelerate. Tan dash plastic looks a bit cheap too.
Made in: Emden, Germany
Engine: 2.0-liter TFSI, Turbo I4, 200 hp
Transmission: DSG automatic
Weight: 3,367 lbs.
Wheelbase: 106.7 in.
Cargo: 13.0 cu.ft.
Base Price: $31,710
Dealer’s Price: $29,355
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $32,530
Sources: Volkswagen, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Volkswagen
Note: Ask auto writer Mark Savage questions at his facebook page, Facebook.com/savageonwheels