The CC stood out like a swan amidst a gaggle of homely Jetta ducklings on the VW dealer’s lot, its aesthetic appeal undeniable. In contrast with the company’s marketing approach with the Phaeton, the CC is virtually badge-less and, at first blush, hard to identify as part of the VW family. I suppose it still looks vaguely Germanic since it shamelessly cribs from the Mercedes CLS it aspires to be. Comfort Coupe or Caustic Copy?
The version I tested was loaded with most of the available features including touch screen navigation, four wheel drive and the 280 horsepower VR6 engine. The price topped out at nearly, ahem, $43,000. VW is trying to take the high road with this car, reserving premium features like bi-xenon adaptive lighting, back up camera and cool looking bi-colored sport seats exclusively for the CC.
The Passat from whence it came, moves down market, I suppose to compete more effectively with Camrys and Accords. I don’t know about you, but spending $43,000 in a VW dealer seems like a dicey financial proposition to me, reminiscent of the bath I took when I bought and later sold a Phaeton.
Plopping down into the seat, I found the interior surfaces quite pleasurable, particularly the steering wheel and those sport seats, whose stitching cleverly apes certain famous Italian interiors. There is way too much faux aluminum brightwork on the dash for this reviewer’s tastes, but some might find it tasty. The vehicle’s start sequence immediately spoiled my mood- you must peer about for the receptacle and then plug the little key-brick into the hole and push till the starter engages. I suspect that one of the engineers who worked on the original iDrive must have been pressed into service for this. I did not find it to my ergonomic taste.
The driving experience was a pastiche of all my least favorite sensations: overly light steering, brakes which begin as touchy then quickly morph into unresponsive and an accelerator which initializes with molasses-like pace. In a heavier vehicle this limousine approach to the throttle tip in makes perfect sense but in this application, first there is too little reaction and then there is too much. Acceleration is similarly disappointing. Despite a 3.6 liter V6 under the hood, worth 280 horsepower, the CC can’t deliver on any sportiness assumed to be the trade off for the car’s squat profile. The exhaust note suggests robust acceleration and the manufacturer’s data reads 6.2 second to 60 mph, but the CC feels slow.
Part of the problem can be attributed to the ride quality, which is highly compliant but resists turning off center and wallows on broken surfaces. It is hard to believe that the curb weight is less than 3,700 pounds, subjectively it feels overly laden or perhaps overly sprung. The CC would really benefit from VW’s DSG, if only it were available. Although the DSG is available in other VWs with the 200 horsepower 2.0 turbo engine, it’s not an option in any of the the CC models. As a result, you’re stuck with a traditional six-speed automatic. And “stuck” is takes on special meaning: the transmission was reluctant to kick down. Some glaciers move faster than the CC changed gears.
Actually, my least favorite part of driving the CC was the incredibly poor outward visibility. The gun slit windows as well as the tight interior spaces are part of the compromises forced upon the design in order to achieve the aesthetic goals of the four door coupe. I felt entombed by the CC, like I was driving in my own coffin, appropriate given any dangerous activity like changing lanes. Everything about the interior felt tight, belying its nearly 190 inch overall length and if the front seats seemed snug and restrictive, the back seats felt like a gulag. Theoretically, the CC gives up only 1.2 inches of rear headroom to the regular Passat; it feels like much more. And while the rear bucket seats are sporty enough, they don’t bring the “luxury” and space you’d expect from cutting the rear bench down to two seats.
For whom did VW intend the CC? If you like the look, don’t need much space or performance and never heard of BMW or Infiniti, then this could be the vehicle for you. As for everybody else, there are a plethora of options. Maybe you’d want a regular Passat, or an Audi A4, or a curiously-styled Acura. I think I might prefer a 328i or perhaps even two Jettas for the same money.