Volkswagen’s new North American strategy is to build larger and less expensive cars with generic styling designed to appeal to the largest audience possible.
The strategy has worked. VW sales have steadily risen on the shoulders of the revamped compact Jetta and the totally remade mid-sized Passat.
Fortunately for those of us who admire cutting-edge design and top-shelf build quality, Volkswagen continues to offer the gorgeous CC mid-sized sedan.
The CC (Comfort Coupe in VW parlance) reached the market in 2008 as a 2009 model, a real head-turner with a roofline that flows in an eye-pleasing coupe-like curve, and with dramatic side character lines rising from front to back accentuating the car’s sleek appearance.
We proclaimed it the best-looking Volkswagen in the company’s history, perhaps the best-looking mainstream sedan on the market.
Nothing has changed our opinion as the CC gets a revised front and rear treatment for the 2013 model year to more closely resemble the new VW look. Included in the styling updates are a three-bar chrome grille mimicking the new Passat, and bixenon headlights accented by standard LED daytime running lights. The hood and front bumper have been altered ever so slightly.
The basic styling and the mechanicals are unchanged, and that’s a good thing. The biggest news with the 2013 refresh is the addition of a fifth seating position. The original CC came with four defined seats, the rear positions separated by a center bin. The bin is gone, replaced by a seating area and a seatbelt.
Volkswagen claims potential buyers were turned off because there wasn’t room for five. There still isn’t much room for the fifth unfortunate passenger, but it’s now available if desperately needed.
Those folks who are fascinated with the CC will have to lay out more cash to move from the new mainstream Passat. The CC starts at $31,430, but customers will be buying a big dose of elegance, more refinement than found in most mainstream sedans, outstanding driving dynamics, a high level of comfort, and a considerable amount of standard equipment.
It’s easy to make the case that the CC is, indeed, an entry-level luxury sedan—especially at the high end in VR6 4Motion Executive trim at $42,240.
The CC comes in five trim levels with two engine choices, two transmission choices and available all-wheel drive.
Although the CC can be purchased with a 3.6-liter VR6 making 280 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, we think Volkswagen’s standout 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque is the solid choice. In addition to excellent gas mileage of 31/highway and 22/city, the smooth-running engine delivers 0-to-60 times in the upper ranges of 6 seconds.
Our CC Sport test car powered by the turbo four accomplished all of its assigned tasks with ease including tackling back country roads and some hill-invested blacktop.
Mated to VW’s six-speed manual transmission, the CC felt more powerful and quicker than its powertrain might indicate. Most folks will opt for the automated 6-speed manual transmission known as DSG without losing performance or gas mileage.
The V-6-equipped CCs start at $38,550 in the Lux trim. If you want all-wheel drive, a desirable configuration in cold-weather climates, the CC VR6 4Motion starts at a rather daunting $42,240.
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 handsome and inviting living quarters.
The standard vinyl-leatherette seats had the look and feel of genuine leather and proved as comfortable as our favorite living room chair. The high-grade cabin materials and impeccable fit and finish made for a relaxing environment.
Standard features on all models include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control, heated eight-way power front seats, an eight-speaker sound system with satellite radio, keyless entry, and cruise control.
The CC is not without its faults, which are inherent in the fastback design. Getting in and out of the car can be a challenge at first because of the sloping roofline. We caution, watch your noggin. But you won’t have to become a contortionist to enter and exit. Tall rear passengers may have to slouch to fit. For the average-sized adult there should be no problem.
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 care must be taken not to hit the car next to you.
No matter how much you are willing to spend from the well-priced base Sport to the over-40-grand Executive, the CC remains a very alluring package.
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