When the Volkswagen CC debuted in 2009, it provided a tony, coupelike supplement to the mainstream Passat sedan. Upon first glance, I deemed it “the people’s car for beautiful people.” With the advent of the next-generation Passat, however, Volkswagen eschewed a full redesign of the CC for a mild reskin. Would this move threaten the CC’s success?
Hardly. By opting not to fix what wasn’t broken, Volkswagen allowed the CC to age with the grace of a Hollywood star — plus or minus some nips and tucks. The CC’s update for 2013 is almost entirely cosmetic, highlighted by revised front and rear fascias.
Devoid of the blockiness that defines the Passat sedan (and the dearly missed Passat wagon), the CC has the presence of a much more expensive piece. Its low, rakish roofline, and rounded front and rear ends, echo the shape of the Mercedes CLS-class. Its interior, which makes liberal use of corporate switchgear, employs a low seating position and expansive glass throughout to proffer a coupe environment in a sedan. The CC looks and feels special in a way that an ordinary Passat cannot; it exemplifies the notion that a product can, and should, feel more than the sum of its parts.
The big news, then, is that the latest CC is still as good as it’s ever been. Its seating position
is first-rate, offering good visibility at all corners and placing the driver comfortably in reach of all major controls. Taller occupants will want to stick to the front row, though, as the sharply defined roofline cuts headroom for even those under six feet.
And the CC drives as well as it looks. My Sport model was equipped with a 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed DSG automatic transmission, which offered more than enough power and boost on demand. A 3.6-liter V-6, which sends 280 horsepower to all four drive wheels, is superfluous, unless your preference is for all-wheel drive.
The CC’s most impressive feature, from the perspective of a serious driver, is its overall competence and road manners. It brakes, steers and corners like a vehicle two sizes smaller. Turn-in has the weight and accuracy reminiscent of a Golf or GTI. Ride quality, while compliant and soft, is far from soft. It may be similar in size to a Toyota Camry or a Chevrolet Malibu, but it moves with a grace uncharacteristic of most four-door sedans.
During my week of testing, I had the rare opportunity to accrue nearly 1,000 miles on a variety of testing circuits. First on the agenda was a 500-mile round trip from Manhattan to Washington, D.C., which involved a mix of highways and urban surface roads, punctuated by a short stint in a diminuitive Smart Fortwo. To test the CC on mountainous back roads, I continued northeast from The City toward the Berkshire Mountains in northwest Massachusetts. On the New Jersey Turnpike, which has all the dips and corners of a 200-mile dragway, the CC kept up with brisk traffic and returned 30 mpg. On the sinuous passes of Mount Greylock, the CC handled hairpin turns and tight changes in direction with composed alacrity.
Making the case for the 2013 CC, then, is something of a no-brainer. It looks better than its sub-$30,000 competitors, save for the zaftig, redesigned Ford Fusion, and outclasses them in terms of material quality, driving experience, and refinement. If you can tolerate reduced headroom and midpack fuel economy — 30 mpg observed ain’t what it used to be — the CC becomes one of the most attractive models currently on offer in Volkswagen’s model line.
And if you’re not exactly bowled over by the improvements that led to the latest-generation Passat, you could do worse than to try out a CC. By not messing with success, Volkswagen has allowed the CC to age gracefully, and remain an attraction proposition from all sides.
The manufacturer provided Autosavant with the CC and a full tank of gas for the purposes of evaluation.