Four years is aeons in car years, which have the same effect on vehicles as dog years do for man's best friend.
The 2013 Volkswagen CC
was a radical design when it first appeared a presidential term ago. Is it ready to be put out to pasture, or has it managed to stay relevant in a fickle, financially skittish market where VW has recognized the importance of Americanization with its mainstream Passat?
Hop in as Leftlane
checks back in with one of Wolfsburg, Germany's finest.
What is it?
The CC originally started life as the Volkswagen Passat CC. Since no one called it that, the company got in line with convention and started calling it, simply, the CC. Initially designed for four-plus-one passengers as a budget Mercedes-Benz CLS, it offered a rather uncomfortable center seat that also covered up a console with hidden cupholders. A reconfiguration of the rear seat smoothed out the middle position, so a third person can sit in back.
The CC is available in five configurations ranging from our 2.0-liter turbocharged version to a 3.6-liter VR6 version, capping off with a 3.6-liter VR6 4Motion (AWD) version. The engine and drivetrain options are supplanted by variations in the trim level.
Our CC's 2.0-liter four-banger was the turbocharged direct-injected engine that is seen nearly everywhere within the Volkswagen Group product portfolio. Intercooled, it manages to put out 200 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and 207 lb-ft of torque at an easy-peasy 1,700 rpms. But it does come with a price: VW recommends premium fuel.
Our tester came with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, although a six-speed manual is also available. With the DSG, the clutch pair alternates between each other: For example, as third gear is engaged by one clutch, the second clutch is prepping fourth gear for its upcoming shift. The two clutches overlap, which enables a faster gear change than those that occur with a traditional automatic transmission. For those desiring to shift it themselves, the transmission also has a manual function to complete that task.
The CC's suspension is typical of those in use today. The front kit consists of struts, coil springs and dampers, along with forged aluminum lower control arms and an anti-sway bar. Hanging out back is a multi-link coil-spring suspension with upper and lower transverse arms and a longitudinal link setup. Steering is of the electro-mechanical power-assisted variety with speed-variable assistance. On the safety side of things, the ABS brake system features a wiping function that ensures dry rotors for quick braking response in wet weather.
What's it up against?
Volkswagen considers its competitive set to be comprised of the Acura TSX
, Buick Regal
, Hyundai Sonata
and Infiniti G25.
It's a very tightly matched group. All the competitive set vehicles feature similar accoutrements and driving capabilities.
How does it look?
Many brands have jumped on the four-door coupe mantra, offering swoopy designs masquerading as sexy sedan variations on a three-box theme. One of the latest comes from BMW with their 6-Series Gran Coupe. But priced as it is, nearly two-and-a-half times more than this CC, it's not under discussion here. What we are talking about is a shapely design that truly does inject some excitement into what could otherwise be a rather mundane family conveyance.
Seen by itself, the CC looks just as it did at introduction four years ago. Side-by-side with an earlier version and it is clear that the 2013 model is more evolutionary in nature. Featuring the new look of Volkswagen, it has a more expressive face with thin line chrome grille work that offers a more sophisticated leading appearance. It is joined at the rear flanks by a revised fascia that eliminates some of the gingerbread from the past and helps tie the CC in with its more pedestrian Passat and Jetta siblings.
Overall though, we think the CC is in good company with all the other four-door whips that claim coupe-like DNA.
And on the inside?
We are very much digging the symmetrical Feng Shui of this V-Dub's layout. There's no canting toward the driver or binnacle offsets to distract. In fact, it appears as though this CC could easily be converted to right-hand drive by simply swapping out the dashboard. Not really, but you get our drift about the fine sense of balance.
A brushed aluminum and black soft touch interior awaits its occupants and displays excellent fit and finish throughout. Sure, it's basic black, and with the exception of the Phaeton luxo-barge of a few years ago, Volkswagen has never been known for over-the-top interiors. But their attention to detail remains second to none.
The leatherette seats are very supportive, but we think we would splurge and forsake the pleather in favor of the full cow. A touch tacky, in the hot sense, it seems to give off excessive heat during hot summer months. The gauges and clocks are comprised of a simple speedo and tachometer setting, with a four-inch LCD display in between, to track other functions. As with everything from iPhones to digital cameras these days, there seem to be a lot of menu-intensive displays.
The radio is a bit old school and not of the Fender variety found in some other new VWs. Regardless, it does supply excellent audio quality. The system also has an SD card slot to import audio tracks. The Garmin-supplied navigation, too, is a bit retro, looking almost cartoonish in its imagery. It again is menu-intensive, requiring you to dig deep for various levels of functionality.
Seat comfort is good with nice bolsters and lumbar support. In the rear seat, people at 5'9 and below should be pretty comfortable. It's when they exceed that national average that things could become a bit dicey.
But does it go?
Stepping up with the power of a small V6, the 2.0T is legendary in its status as a go-to engine for much of the VW lineup. With its 200-horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, the engine cruises all day long without even breathing hard. The gearbox, in standard mode, always seemed to find the right cog for extended, and noise-suppressed cruising.
This engine is very fast, exhibiting plenty of pulling power to usher this 3,369 lbs. car quite well. With plenty of get up and go, we wonder why anyone would consider the V6 in the first place.
EPA estimates peg the mill at 22/31 mpg, with a 25 mpg average. We can attest to their cruising claims as we observed 30.6 mpg on the highway during extended jaunts.
The electric power assisted steering is speed sensitive. Easy at low speed, the system progressively gains friction at higher speeds for better road feel. The steering has a certain numbness on center, tending to wallow a bit from side to side. It's not a GTI or VR6, although we'd like to see an increase in effort.
Ride quality remains stellar, with the CC besting some luxury-branded sedans. Although the Sport moniker of our tester is a bit dubious, the CC does provide a precise feel that's ultimately just short of entertaining.
Why you would buy it:
The Volkswagen CC gives you four-door coupe styling and functionality without all of the premium Euro pricing.
Why you wouldn't:
The U.S.-oriented Passat fits your needs much better.
Leftlane's bottom line
The CC gives a sexy, two-door look to a four-door sedan. Helping to breath new life into the three-box design that has governed the genre for years, it might be perfect for a family with young ones.
But it may not be quite the ticket for a full-size family of NBA stock. For that, we'd recommend the new, made-in-Tennessee Passat, which, unfortunately, isn't as evocative.
2013 Volkswagen CC 2.0T Sport Plus
base price, $32,850. As tested, $33,670.
Words and photos by Mark Elias.