2009 Volkswagen CC Review
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS
2009 Volkswagen CC VR6 Sport
Sleek, emotive styling, a choice of powerful but efficient engines, and a comfortable but capable sport-luxury suspension. Must be a high-budget European sports-luxury coupe, right?
Wrong. It's a Volkswagen, and it's a four-door sedan called the CC, for "Comfort Coupe".
VW may be the world's leader in niche marketing, automotive style, as not only does its product lineup have choices in all common categories and some not so common -- sedans in sizes from small to large and low-budget to luxury, wagons in several sizes, hatchbacks ditto , vans from Euro-MPV through commercial and even an American minivan, and even hardtop convertibles -- it also has some that defy easy categorization.
Like the CC. There is a precedent, in the larger and much more expensive Mercedes-Benz CLS, but the two are hardly competitors. Based on VW's popular Passat, which has proven a successful alternative to the boring mainstream mid-sized sedan, the CC trades some capacity -- it's strictly a four-seater -- for style. It looks like an impractical coupe, with a steeply-raked windshield, near-fastback roofline, and curvaceous bodywork. But it holds four adults in comfort, with plenty of space for luggage as well.
Positioned above the Passat in the V lineup, the CC is offered in Sport and Luxury trim levels with the 2.0T FSI 200-horsepower direct-injected, turbocharged, and intercooled four-cylinder engine and Sport and 4Motion AWD versions with the 3.6-liter narrow-angle VR6 V6, now with FSI direct fuel injection and 280 hp. Want a six-speed manual? The 2.0 Sport is your only choice. All others are equipped with a six-speed torque-converter automatic with "Tiptronic" manual-shift mode.
2.0T Sport CCs are more simply equipped than other models, with halogen headlights where others have adaptive bi-xenon, single-zone AC instead of dual-zone automatic "Climatronic" climate control, manual two-speed wipers instead of Rain Sense automatic with heated washer nozzles, manual instead of automatic interior rearview mirror dimming, V-Tex instead of leather upholstery, and fewer option choices. Meaning no "Technology Package" of touchscreen hard disk-based navigation system, rearview camera, and Media Device Interface (MDI). Manual gearbox plus less luxury equipment equals less weight equals more performance, for less money. Sounds like a deal to me.
At the other end are the VR6 models, fully-equipped and well into luxury car territory. "Sport" means sport-luxury in a very German way, while "4Motion" adds VW's performance-oriented namesake all-wheel drive system for improved traction and all-weather abilities. A CC VR6 Sport with the Technology Package has been my ride for the past week, and a fine week it has been.
APPEARANCE: It's a Volkswagen, the smiling chrome-trimmed rounded trapezoid grille and uniquely-shaped headlights see to that. But other than those clues, the CC looks not at all like any other Volkswagen, ever. It's noticeably wider and lower, and sits marginally lower to the ground. And, as sleek as the Passat may look, it's a brick compared to the curvaceous CC. There is hardly a straight line to be found on its surface; even the sharply-defined character line on the sides curves gently downward as it rises toward the rear. Both the windshield and rear window are raked much more than usual, and while the base of the windshield is not all that far rearward -- it's at the rear point of the front wheels -- it seems to be as the near-fastback roofline moves the CC's visual center rearwards. The angular bulge in the hood suggest power -- and an in-line engine, although the CC's is transverse, like all current Volkswagens. Frameless door glass enhances its coupe-like character. The rear panel features huge taillights that reprise the shape of the headlights and a well-defined spoiler lip. The large VW badge at the rear is the trunk opener.
COMFORT: If there are major differences between the CC and the Passat outside, there are even more within. About all the two cars share is VW's elegantly simple and functional design philosophy. All of the details are different. The CC 's motif is best-describes as "Euro-contemporary", with an anti-glare two-tone dark-over-light color scheme and copious but tasteful use of aluminum trim on the instrument panel, console, and doors. All of the amenities expected in a luxury car are found in the VR6 Sport, with all windows one-touch up and down, multi-level heated, power-adjustable front seats, striking two-tone leather upholstery, white cushions and black bolsters, and a leather-rimmed steering wheel, adjustable for both tilt and reach and featuring audio and information system controls. The main instruments are easy to see and protected from glare. Trip computer information is presented between the tach and speedometer. With the optional Technology Package, navigation and audio systems are controlled via a simple touch-screen interface, a most welcome departure from the complex controls of other German automakers. Climate system controls are separate, and again simple and familiar. Leave it to Volkswagen for simple German engineering! Instead of a rear bench, the CC has two rear buckets, similar in comfort (which is to say very, very good) if not in adjustability to those in front. It's not merely "+2" as an afterthought like too many coupes. A central console with storage and cupholders, a ski-passthrough behind the armrest, and 60/40 folding seatbacks add convenience. The trunk is commendably large, and although the press materials mentioned a space-saver spare, I found a real spare tire under the trunk floor. A good, and all too rare, thing!
SAFETY: Full safety equipment is found in the CC, with four-wheel antilock disc brakes with Brake Assist, the ESP electronic stabilization program, traction control, and Electronic Differential Locking (EDL). Advanced-design multistage front airbags are joined by front side airbags and full-length head curtain bags, with rear side bags available. Bi-Xenon adaptive headlights that follow the direction of the car to improve night-time visibility are standard equipment on VR6 models.
RIDE AND HANDLING: Built as it is on the same basic platform as the Passat, the CC shares a fully-independent MacPherson strut front / multilink rear suspension and sturdy, rigid unibody structure. The suspension is tuned in the European luxury manner. It feels soft, and quite comfortable, in gentle driving. Wick things up a bit, and instead of continuing to feel soft the car hunkers down, wakes up, and gets to business. It's an enjoyable car to drive, quickly or sedately, on any road. Steering effort is just right, and the brakes are very good.
PERFORMANCE: In either available CC engine, FSI direct fuel injection is the secret to the success. It allows higher compression, in this case 12:1, for improvements in fuel economy, power, and emissions. Like earlier VW VR6 engines, the CC's features a narrow vee angle for compactness. The old 15-degree angle has been traded for 10.6 degrees, for an even more compact engine. Much shorter than an inline six, and narrower than a V6, it fits neatly across the engine bay. Its 280 horsepower (at 6200 rpm) and 265 lb-ft of torque (at 2750 rpm) are matched well to the six-speed automatic transmission, which may be manually shifted via the regular shift lever or paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. Although manual shifting brings the best results in performance driving, ``D'' works perfectly well in most everyday situations. Fuel economy, at around 17 to 19 mpg in the city, 24+ on the highway, and low twenties overall, is good for a powerful V6 sports sedan.
CONCLUSIONS: Volkswagen's CC combines style with space, comfort, and performance.
2009 Volkswagen VR6 Sport
Base Price $ 38,300 Price As Tested $ 41,630 Engine Type dual overhead cam 24-valve 10.6-degree V6 with direct fuel injection and variable cam phasing Engine Size 3.6 liters / 219 cu. in. Horsepower 280 @ 6200 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 265 @ 2750 rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Wheelbase / Length 106.7 in. / 188.9 in. Curb Weight 3628 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 13 Fuel Capacity 18.5 gal. Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline recommended Tires 235/40R18 95H Continental Conti Pro Contact Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS and ESP standard Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut/ independent 4-link Drivetrain transverse front engine, front-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 18 / 27 / 21 0 to 60 mph 6.6 sec OPTIONS AND CHARGES Technology Package - includes: navigation system, rear-view camera, upgraded audio $ 2,640 Destination charge $ 690