Following Mercedes’ formula, the new Volkswagen CC has a lower roof and a higher price. CC stands for “Comfort Coupé”, a contradiction considering the word coupé means two doors and this four-door coupé has a pair too many, but despite this slight irritation there’s no denying that it has an exquisite silhouette.
As part of this year’s revision, the CC’s front has been replaced and now sports a more aggressive three-bar chrome grill to compliment its standard HID headlamps. The rear is defined by the somewhat tail lamps which incorporate a “CC” shape with their LED clusters.
In contrast to many of its contemporaries, these mid-cycle refreshes actually suit the overall character of the car. Across Europe, the CC sits between the Passat and its more impressive cousin the Phaeton – both in terms of price and size.
For the American market, where the Passat is a larger machine and the Phaeton has never reigned, the CC can initially seem somewhat misplaced. It’s a good few thousand more expensive than the Passat but doesn’t really seem that much bigger – and America is a culture where size is equated to status.
Then you get inside.
Our base model tester had a triple black colour scheme, with jet leatherette seats complimenting the dark faux-aluminium trim that, in turn, set off the black of the car itself.
It can feel a little dense, despite playing well with the smaller dash and feeling of expanse, and when contrasted to the ivory/black or ivory/brown versions on the market (which we were able to experience at the local dealer), came off feeling like the lesser cousin.
On all three models, the look of the leather was surprisingly convincing, a step up from the faux-cow of recent VW history.
Excluding the colour combinations, the choice of CC versions is somewhat limited – part of VW’s recent inventory streamlining mission. There really are only five different configurations: Sport, Sport Plus, Lux, V6 Lux and VR6 Executive. Who knows the reason for the additional R in the Executive model, or the lack of the same for the V6 Lux!
The Sport model starts at $30,610, with dual-zone climate control and standard 12-way power seats.
The Plus version improves on this with sat-nav, DSG transmission and larger 18-inch wheels for another $2,240.
Lux ($35,335) brings ambient lighting and a real aluminium trim as well as adding a sunroof and it’s bigger brother the V6 replaces the fake leather with real, adds a backup cam, memory seats and a navigation screen upgrade.
At the top of the food chain, the VR6 Executive brings AWD, parking sensors, a power rear sunshade and fully climate controlled front seats with heating, cooling and (everyone’s favourite) a massage mode.
If you are not in the front of the car, the roominess isn’t immense. The sloped door openings of the rear mean that entering and exiting the car can be less than refined, and the headroom is somewhat lacking for the taller passenger. Despite feeling like a four-seater, it does come with a standard centre rear seat for a fifth, but it certainly wasn’t designed for an adult human, and head-tilting is all but guaranteed.
Thankfully, the main driver and passenger seats make up for it. They are comfortable and easily adjusted to provide a smooth journey of any length – if there is any complaint about the front cockpit it may be that the headroom is just slightly too short for anyone considerably above average – but the roof line does look great, so it’s an understandable payoff.
Sadly, VWs infotainment systems have been behind the pack for a while and they haven’t managed to catch up yet, so the CC suffers along with its cousins. There is a basic five-inch touchscreen with CD player, AM/FM/HD/Sirius radio and integration for iDevices – though it lacks a standard USB plug so non-Apple users need to look to the Bluetooth for their connection needs. This works very well, providing audio streaming and speakerphone functionality without issue. There’s no facility for voice-command with your iDevice, however, so Siri remains on the sidelines for now.
Once you jump to the Sport Plus and higher configurations, VW’s low-end navigation system becomes part of the overall package. Using the same low-end LCD, there’s nothing notable here – it works, but the resolution is low and the processor speed is minimal; rather than feeling modern, it’s rather like using a computer from the early 80s!
The six-cylinder models improve again, this time boosting the screen size to a more workable 6.5 inches. As well as the improvement to the sat-nav, there’s 25GB of built-in music storage which can help add a backup library to the standard functionality. Executive adds a colour LCD to the dash, and makes its mark on the sound system with a 600-watt, 10 speaker Dynaudio system. The sound quality moves from ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’, with well-balanced audio and volume levels that will be satisfactory for most people.
Onto the most important, final category. With its electric power steering, soft-sprung suspension, and classic VW rubbery shift feel, the CC comes off as a large and comfortable highway cruiser.
Complimenting this, the 235-width rubber, light 3,400lb curb weight and fastidious attention to detail of the Germans mean the CC 2.0T is both stable and impressively grippy in the bends.
For those who care more about the overall feel of the performance rather than raw power, the 2.0T is an impressive vehicle, combining a light front end with well-matched manual transmission ratios. If you throw it around an ambitious curving track, the soft suspension may end up lacking, but for any normal, and even moderately-aggressive driving, the 2.0T will have you smiling more than its top end sibling.
Matched against the comparable Buick GS, the turbo CC loses on power, but it feels considerably more refined and doesn’t lose much when pushing its handling to the edge.
The VR6 FWD CC, on the other hand, is missing some of that responsivity with its extra weight up front and pushed too hard could find itself ploughing into the hedge rather than smoothly taking the corner. It’s an experience which is matched in a V6 Avalon or MKZ – it is possible to opt for 4MOTION which pulls back on some of the FWD handling issues, to do so adds additional weight without any increase in the car’s contact patches.
Former Passat owners, or those drawn in by the Passat’s cheaper starting price and higher recognition, will find themselves switching to the CC once properly introduced. And if they do, they will drive away happy, with a car which consistently outperforms its slightly-smaller stablemate despite looking like its twin to the multitude.