An affordable alternative to the Mercedes-Benz CLS
Volkswagen has long since tried to bring their vehicles a bit further upmarket, differing from the brand’s original goal to be the affordable “people’s car”.
When the Volkswagen CC was introduced (as the Passat CC), it was one of a kind on the market. It was four-door, four seat sedan with swooping lines and pillarless windows that made it resemble a coupé. It looked like a simmered-down version of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, the only other four-door coupé on sale at the time. Now, with vehicles such as the Audi A7 and the BMW 6-series GranCoupé, the CLS’ monopoly has been taken away. This sexier version of the Passat still remains the only mainstream car of its type available in North America, and a mid-cycle restyle helps my 2013 Volkswagen CC R-Line tester stand out from the pack even more.
In the midst of a bunch of more summer-oriented vehicles, a surprising turn of events put this CC R-Line into my hands at the last minute. It’s important to note that the “Passat” name has been dropped from the name, so now it’s just the “CC”. Having a cushy automatic sedan was a pleasant change from the Fiat 500C Abarth I was previously driving. When I first hopped into the CC, my colleague noticed me let out an exasperated sigh upon discovering that it had the 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. I was looking forward to the 3.6L motor. Priced at $45,975 as-tested though, it’s pretty competitively priced.
It all ended well though; I found that even though the engine is aging, it worked perfectly well in the big sedan. Despite being handicapped by front-wheel-drive, the CC moved quite well both in a straight line and in the corners. The chassis felt extremely balanced, and the typical Volkswagen economics made it a gem to commute in. The 2.0T hauls ass off the line, and turbo lag is virtually non-existent. The power is always there when you need it, and passing on the highway is no issue at all. The dual-clutch DSG gearbox is quick-shifting and a pleasure to use. Surprisingly, I managed to get an average of 6.9L/100km on the highway. When adding in a ton of rush hour city driving, my economy still stayed at a combined 8.3L/100km. Yes, the car takes premium fuel due to its forced induction, but with this kind of mileage, I’m not complaining in the slightest.
Loaded-up with all the gizmos, my R-Line CC was as well equipped as one would imagine for a premium midsized sedan. Equipped with the Technology Package, it had the full Dynaudio sound system (which actually sounds awesome) as well as navigation. Volkswagen’s navigation system is, unlike most others, actually pretty easy to use and user-intuitive. I thoroughly enjoy it. One issue I picked up on was that the pleasantly large sunroof cannot be opened fully. It tilts up a couple inches and the shade retracts for a great sky view, but I always fancy a drive with the sunroof fully retracted.
The two-tone interior looks great, and the GTI-esque flat-bottom steering wheel is an ergonomic delight. The CC is a wonderful car to both look at and be in. Much like the new (much larger) Passat, the interior is quite comfortable and reminded me of the Toyota Avalon Limited I spent a week with a while back. Everything is easily accessible and all the buttons are in the right places.
Volkswagen has long since tried to bring their vehicles a bit further upmarket, differing from the brand’s original goal to be the affordable “people’s car”. I think they’ve done a great job of it, because the entire current lineup is classy and elegant. In recent years there’s even evidence of VW trying to improve their biggest flaw; reliability. When looking at affordable transportation on the used market, it’s hard to miss the fact that most older Volkswagens have their “Check Engine” lights on. This is changing, and quality is definitely improving. Materials are nicer, parts are lasting longer, and the engines are becoming more and more bulletproof.
Much like the Avalon, I think the CC is an excellent premium sedan; it’s just not a luxury car. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the CC; I think it’s a very competitive car in a virtually non-existent market. It’s a big, sexy sedan that gets tons of compliments because of its polarizing looks. I think the car would be much better positioned if it were sold solely as a V6 at the price point where they currently sell the 4-banger. The already great car would be so much better off without the four-cylinder. What the Volkswagen CC does have going for it though is its lack of geriatric styling both inside and out; and styling alone seems to sell these days.
2013 Volkswagen CC R-Line Gallery