Vellum Venom: 2013 Volkswagen CC

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom 2013 volkswagen cc

I can’t believe every automaker and their dog needs an entry-level luxury car, but some folks pull it off better than others. Case in point, this VW CC versus a Hyundai Azera or the (current) Lincoln MKZ. Which makes me wonder what designers say in the studio when trying to make such an upscale motor from a rather dowdy platform mate in the corporate stable.

I suspect a fair bit of cursing, especially for the poor souls tasked with the aforementioned Lincoln. And while badge engineering is a vital (yet terrifying) part of the game, me thinks the designers at VW had more leverage, more money and way more fun making this ride. Because the roof proves it.

A good car schnoz needs some sort of thrust. Perhaps it is the swept back thrust of any car with a long hood and curvy fenders. Or maybe the pointy forward action of many sedans: to visually reduce the extra frontal area of modern machines. The CC goes forward nicely, as the upper grille and lower fog light trim point to vanishing points beyond the bumper. The bumper, fenders and headlights follow suit…quite logically.

Yup, that’s pretty pointy. The CC’s rather toothy grin is sinister from this shot. The headlight design adds more complexity to the curves, so let’s dig deeper.

There’s a dazzling array of LED, HID and conventional lighting presented here. Each element demands a unique look to perform to their engineering specs, and I like how they all blended into an assembly that is cohesive, forward thrusting and very eye-catching.

And from the top, where most of us see them, these lights have a much cleaner look. It’s very German. Even better, it still conveys the forward thrust of the entire front fascia.

Damn camera phone. Washed out or no, you see how the forward thrust of the front end (witnessed by the profile of the headlights) turns into sweeping lines. Some go up ( beltline and DLO daylight opening) and others go down (roof, decklid). The whole package is fluid. Most importantly, the CC doesn’t look as tall as a CUV: say that three times fast!

Combined with modest chrome trimmings and the requisite large hoops, the CC projects an upscale demeanor, as a downmarket Mercedes CLS. Well duh, you already knew that!

No black plastic triangles! Thank goodness for German engineering and design harmony. My only beef is the massive A-pillar, thanks to the low cutline. The CC would flow better if that line started at the base of the windshield and gently/naturally landed at the base of the DLO. Some designers make it work by the pure talent in their hand/wrist muscles…others use a curve template not unlike the plastic thingies in a Spirograph game. Either way works.

This B-pillar is just way too thick. I’m sure there’s a good reason why, but it takes away from the package…in terms of styling. Too bad about that.

Another DLO that avoids black plastic triangles! Some design team obviously had a lot of money and plenty of time to make a unique roofline! The curves are just about perfect: when you frame any “four door coupé” in this manner, things get downright beautiful. Which makes me lust for the renaissance of coupes a little less…NOT!

Do you feel the thrusting lines speeding to the CC’s hind quarters? Also note the subtle tension between the hard bends in the sheetmetal…dare I proclaim this as a coke bottle figure? I probably dare not.

My big letdown from the side: these static and dowdy door handles. I wish they had more up-down or left-right flow, combined with negative area (where your fingers go) that looked less like a cartoonish smile. A good benchmark for my opinion lies in the Mercedes CLS and the last two generations of E-class. VW obviously spent a ton of cash on the roof, too bad they couldn’t make a business case for complementary portal openers.

Then again, look at that photographer dude’s massive forehead. WTF does he know about looking cool or anything else?

Combine the coupé roof line with a touch of tumblehome and the hard crease above the door handle and this is most certainly a nice bit of Sedan Porn. At such a reasonable price…compared to an Aston Martin Rapide! I even like the symmetric integration of the fuel filler door into the equation.

The facelifted taillights really make the CC shine. I never cared for the static circles/ovoids of the last model, they detracted from the package. The new lenses sport complementary shapes and a linear theme that adds a dash of excitement to the posterior. Kinda like going to a churrascaria instead of an ordinary steak house when you need a good slab of beef. Kinda sorta.

Not a big fan of the black trim below the rear glass. While I understand that solid glass is pointless and costly on a roofline this fast, perhaps instead the trunk needs to extend to cover this gap? This just looks…well, cheap.

Note how (most of) the lines inside the light visually extend to a vanishing point somewhere in the middle of the trunk. It’s a nice extension of the theme created by the headlights. Again, a wonderful improvement over the original CC.

Much like the hide-away trunk locks of yesteryear, I encourage hiding stuff under an emblem. And this VW door/rear camera holder/whatever else is pretty frickin’ awesome. Some ideas never go out of style! Or at least they never should.

Here’s a cost cutting concession I do admire. Instead of one hunk of chrome, this three-piece wraparound unit ensures you never replace a large trim item because of accident damage to the bumper’s rounded corners. I’m sure insurance companies also approve.

This is my biggest problem with the CC, as it’s cheap and easy to avoid. Why is the VW emblem so large that it demands a hood relief? Plus, it’s sticking forward and generally not minding its own business. Car badges are stalking sheet metal like your ex does all over Facebook. I long for the day when badge engineering (literally, that is) takes a page from the “Less is More” school of thought.

The CC is quite a lovely and classy machine for the somewhat average car buyer, so why did VW give it a gigantic wart in the shape of their corporate logo?

Thanks for reading, have a great week.

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5 of 57 comments
  • 300zx_guy 300zx_guy on May 24, 2012

    Sajeev, another great design analysis. Even though I scrutinize car design all the time, you always point out design elements I missed. As for the CC, I agree with most of your points, except I find the linearity of the new front incongruous with the rest of the design. (The new taillights, I agree with you, are a great improvement.) The previous nose was about perfect. The headlights had a nice shapeliness, and the grill was wide and appropriately upscale in appearance, similar in shape to the old Phaeton, but sharper. I can only assume they changed it to bring it in line with the rest of their cars, but the CC's original nose was an outlier anyhow, so why change that now, after all, this is their high-style flagship sedan (in the US anyhow). You seem pretty pleased with the new nose, other than the oversized logo, just wondering how you feel about it compared to the old one.

    • See 2 previous
    • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on May 28, 2012

      @Sajeev Mehta I think that's precisely why this trend exists. Well said.

  • "scarey" "scarey" on May 25, 2012

    Best looking Volkswagen ever. Not bad photography, either.

  • Redapple2 I m OK with State Inspections, OF 7 , 8 OR HOWEVER OLD CARS. I get a new car every 3-5 years. Well, that aint right. When I lived in NY, it would really fry my butt to be compelled to have my new car inspected. Add in 9% sales tax ( after i ve already paid ~50% on the money when I made it - so- i had to make $2 to have $1 in my pocket- So, net it back upward? > it s a 18% tax.) Add in massive property tax, state income tax. Brutal winters. I voted with my feet. Off topic a little. Sorry.
  • Adamscotthi Thanks a lot for article!
  • MaintenanceCosts This class of car competes hard with Chargers/Challengers and modded diesel pickups for the douchey-driving crown.
  • 28-Cars-Later Corey - I think I am going to issue a fatwa demanding a cool kids car meetup in July somewhere in the Ohio region.
  • Master Baiter Might as well light 50 $100 bills on fire.