Review: 2010 Volkswagen CC Sport
By George Straton
Lately auto manufacturers have become veritable Baskin Robbins outlets when it comes to product variety. Consider this past decade’s trend towards increased utility, which came at the expense of personal sporty cars. In 2004, Mercedes-Benz served up a new flavor, the “four door luxury coupe,” in the form of the CLS. Trying to capitalize in this niche, luxury stalwarts including Audi and BMW have followed suit. Volkswagen, partly in its quest to increase global sales, offers up a variation of the flavor – the affordable four-door premium coupe – which it calls the Comfort Coupe or “CC.” Here at Autosavant, we recently spent a week in a 2010 entry-level CC Sport to see how well Volkswagen addresses the four-dour coupe issue.
Costing just $600 more than the functional-yet-conservative Passat from which it is derived, the CC is about high style. The nose is more aggressive than anything else Volkswagen manufactures, except for the not-for-North-America Scirocco sports coupe. The beltline is quite high where it joins the sloping roof line. Frameless door windows allow more glass to brighten the cabin. While not as low-slung as the Mercedes CLS, observers claimed the CC looked longer than other cars in the segment, including the Passat. (The Passat is actually longer by a hair.)
The sloping roof tapers more gradually into the trunk lid line which terminates in a subtle integrated spoiler. The added benefit is that of a taller trunk which is easier to load and which can swallow two 26-inch suitcases plus a couple of large duffels. If you require greater luggage space, the CC features both a trunk pass through and rear seatbacks that fold down in 60/40 fashion.
The Volkswagen CC shares a platform and many mechanicals with the GTI and Audi A3. That is a product heritage that engenders a fair amount of respect on the European motorways, and it turns out that the CC works well even on American roads with their often-cratered pavement surfaces.
For more than a decade, Volkswagen Group has extolled the virtues of extracting more power and greater fuel efficiency from lighter, small-displacement four-cylinder powerplants, courtesy of forced induction. Direct fuel injection has made higher compression ratios possible, permitting more torque lower in the power band. In this regard the 1984-cc four cylinder does not disappoint. Rated 200 HP, with 207 ft-lbs. of torque on tap as early as 1700 rpm, the 3344-pound Volkswagen CC can scurry from a stop to 60 MPH in the low seven-second range and can continue to a governed 130 MPH top speed. At idle, the engine is devoid of cheap-sounding mechanical noises common to lesser four-cylinder mills, and at work, a restrained growl emanates.
Mated to the optional six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox, observed fuel economy over a week’s worth of suburban stop and go was a decent 24.7 mpg. With an 18.5-gallon tank, an impressive 500 miles of interstate range is within reach. The DSG transmission offers quick shifts, and is nearly as smooth as a torque converter automatic. Emulation of a torque converter automatic is not perfect, however; occasionally the engine lugs a bit at low speed in first gear, but keep in mind that this is an automated manual transmission. Sport Mode keeps revs at 3400 RPM before normal upshifts, minimizing turbo lag. Mash the accelerator, and the tachometer will eagerly find the engine’s redline. For the closest thing to rev-matched downshifts, manual gear selection is possible, though there is a momentary lag from time of lever actuation to lower gear engagement. Curiously, Volkswagen omits even the option of steering wheel shift controls in the four-cylinder CC models; chalk that one up to corporate penny pinchers in Wolfsburg.
The CC’s McPherson strut-located control arm front and four-link rear suspension do a commendable job of keeping the 17-inch Continental ContiPro H-rated all seasons, mounted on alloys, on the pavement. Volkswagen opted to fit the CC with a puncture self-sealing type rather than the self-supporting run flats, which certain luxury makes are gravitating towards. Volkswagen is fairly unusual in that it still provides a full-sized spare under the trunk cargo floor.
The servo-electric assisted steering is accurate, though feedback is on the light side. Sway and dive are well controlled for such a large front drive car. When accelerating all-out from a corner, the nose-heavy chassis is betrayed by a back end which feels ready to step out. The CC exhibits compliance sufficient to shrug off large pot holes with a muted sound passing into the cabin, though minor road undulations and frost heaves make the chassis a bit busy. Further, a car in this segment deserves better cabin isolation from tire slap. Large-for-weight-class brake hardware, likely for visual effect as well, is more than capable of shrugging off speed. Brake pedal feedback was less than hoped for and bite during the first few millimeters of pedal travel could be improved.
As a midsized car, the CC does a good job of cosseting its occupants. Surprisingly, the sloped roofline shaves only a half-inch of headroom from the donor Passat. And although it rides on a wheelbase shorter than that of a Nissan Maxima, the CC offers three inches more rear legroom than that competitor. Scalloped front seat backs and deep buckets allow two 5’10” adults about two inches of each knee and head room to spare in the rear. Moreover, they need not worry about any unfortunate center position passenger, as the rear seat has only two ourboard seating positions. A center-rear seat is available in Europe-market CCs, but not in the US. The fact that the rear doors open nearly 90 degrees makes rear seat entry less prone to head bumps than one would expect.
In terms of amenities, the omission of real leather seating surfaces, real aluminum trim, High Intensity Discharge headlights, automatic climate control, or tilting moonroof may seem odd in a premium car. However, for an additional $6,000 USD, the Luxury model adds those features, putting the CC solidly into the price range of some premium-brand competitors. For our CC Sport’s as-tested $29,960 price, we won’t complain. The perforated-and-tufted black leatherette (V-Tex) seat upholstery, and the faux-aluminum trim, spanning doors, dash and center stack, have fooled more than a few people whose cars contain real leather and real metal trim. Bluetooth phone and media connectivity and an auto-dimming rear view mirror are standard. The steering wheel is adjustable for both rake and reach, and both front seats have full power controls including upper and lower lumbar adjustments. Overall, the cabin effect is German-efficiency-meets-Scandinavian-elegance, with gauges set in watch-like chrome bezels, nicely red-backlit insruments, and logical controls.
To suit the tech- and music-craving within us, there is the 5” touchscreen audio-media controller on the center stack. Audi’s and BMW’s joystick controllers should only be so intuitive. Better yet, the screen is perfectly sensitive to touch and doesn’t show finger prints. The base audio with good detail and low distortion, if not outright punch, also accepts SD media and streaming music from Bluetooth-enabled music devices.
In just over a week with our Shadow Blue Metallic CC, more than a few friends and neighbors were astonished at the dramatic style combined with attention to detail and finish available for the sedan’s $30,000 price tag. They wondered aloud why their own late model premium sedans seemed so bland by comparison. While not an outright barn burner the Volkswagen CC rewards most driving inputs with precision and has enough power to get up and go when needed, and you can keep going for a while with the CC’s substantial range. Among competitors such as the Nissan Maxima, Saab 9-3 and Volkswagen’s own Passat, the CC is the styling champ. True, the Volkswagen CC is not going to satisfy utilitarians who absolutely must have the center rear seat position, but for those who want a stylish, comfortable, German-engineered entry-luxury sedan, the CC may be a great fit for them.