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2009 Volkswagen CC Review

2009 Volkswagen CC (select to view enlarged photo)
2009 Volkswagen CC

MORE: Compare Volkswagen Specs and Prices-Volkswagen Buyers Guide

Sleekest VW Yet
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

2009 VOLKSWAGEN CC VR6 4MOTION (select to view enlarged photo)

I’ve had a lot of VWs in my day, but this may be the sleekest and sexiest. I first encountered it at the Detroit auto show a couple of years ago and it figuratively jumped right out at me. It has a surprising resemblance to the new Mercedes styling language with a low nose, low rear and the arched center that makes it resemble a cat with a hunkered-up back. A distinct character line begins under the CC’s chin and flows smoothly around the front corner under the headlight rising steadily to the rear taillight. Large, 18-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels contribute to the squat, athletic stance. Great visual drama, indeed.

It’s only the overall shape, though, that says MB – the details say up-scale VW.

What do you suppose the CC stands for? Well, it means “Comfort Coupe,” they say. What a silly name. Our friends at VW are playing fast and loose with the semantics here. It certainly is not a coupe if it has four doors and a B-pillar, now is it? It is certainly comfortable, I must say - just a little tight getting in and out for me. (More on that later.) To be fair, VW is not the first to stretch this “coupe” definition. Underneath it is purely Passat mid-size sedan - a competent, fun-to-drive sedan with German design and engineering.

CC is just a sexed-up version of Passat. The blacked-out B-Pilar and window frames make it look a bit like a coupe, I guess, and certainly add to the more dramatic appearance. We might even call it a classic 2+2, since it is a 4-passenger sedan with a hard console separating the rear passengers. It’s comfortably roomy inside at all passenger positions and the trunk is roomy as well. It would be a great traveling car for four folks at a time.

Cruising down the road we can barely feel and hear a subtle thrum coming from under the hood. It’s the 3.6-liter, 280-horse, 24-valve, narrow-angle VR6 sporting a dual exhaust with sporty baffling. The substantial 265 lbs-ft of torque provides plenty of grunt for this 3,300-pound car. VW claims a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds. The EPA rates the VR6 at 17-mpg in the city and 25-mpg on the highway. An impressive .28 coefficient of drag contributes to the good highway number. And an 18.5-gallon fuel tank makes for good range.

The only other engine available in the CC on this side of the pond is the GTI’s smooth, sophisticated 2.0-liter turbo gasoline 4-cylinder making a tad over 200 horsepower. It will do 0-to-60 in 7.4 seconds. With this little engine you can have a six speed stick or the universal Tiptronic automatic, though you can’t have the quick-shifting dual-clutch DSG transmission. Too bad.

We have the smooth, silent six-speed Tiptronic (only trans available with the V6) on our tester to get the power to the road, and it does an excellent job. Just for fun small paddle shifters are mounted to the steering wheel. Under modest throttle shifts are so smooth they are barely perceptible. We also have the trusted 4Motion all-wheel drive, essentially the wonderfully competent Audi Quattro system. You can’t go wrong with that.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

We climb into the cockpit a bit awkwardly, just because I’m too big. For a guy my size the lower roofline causes a bit of consternation. It would not be an issue for an average sized guy, I suppose. The flashy, two-tone leather seats with contrasting stitching are generous enough and well bolstered. I found them exceptionally comfortable on a couple of extended drives of about two hours. The modern, stylish dash is directly from Passat and features sort of a three-tiered design. The top element forms a smooth brow over the gauges and the surface of the dash with an interesting visual separation near the windshield. Then a narrow strip of aluminum extends fully across the center separating the top from the lower dash. The center stack and controls are mostly simple and uncomplicated, though a bit more complex than then the uber-simple Passat. Fit, finish and quality of materials are excellent.

This is a pleasant car on the road with just a few niggles. First, the cruise control is precise and quick to set but bumping the speed up or down results in 5-mph of range at a time. It should go up and down 1 mph at a time. Second, the dash lights don’t turn down enough at night. And, why do you suppose the radio turns itself down when we shut the car off so that I always have to turn it up again when restart and head out on another adventure? Finally, I’m not sure what the advantage of the push-the-fob-into-the-slot system is over a conventional key. The fob has a hard metal loop on it that hurts the finger. Let’s just use a push button start – the kind where you leave the fob in your pocket, like many other luxury, and some common makes, do it.

The CC comes in five iterations - two “Sport” and one “Luxury” model starting at $27,100. Those three come with the 4-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbo engine. Then there are the VR6 Sport (front-wheel drive) and VR6 4Motion (all-wheel drive) with the V6 engine. Those two start at $38,300 and $39,300 respectively. That’s a pretty hefty premium for a few extra horsepower and about a second better 0-to-60 time, and a bit more generous content.

Our well-equipped test car had only the Technology Package as an option (navigation system and rear view camera) for $2,640. The bottom line, with a $690 destination charge, is $42,630 – not cheap for sure. But the list of standard features on this top-of-the-line model is impressive like: Bi-Xemon adaptive headlights, nice leather, dual-zone climate controls, rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels with self-sealing all-season tires, full chassis dynamics, and everything else you’d expect from an up-scale German car.

The new vehicle warranty covers the CC for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Corrosion protection is for 12 years and scheduled maintenance is free for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles.

VW just reported profits up substantially for 2008, when the entire industry was suffering record losses. How did they do that? Well, the CC may give some insight.

MORE: Compare Volkswagen Specs and Prices-Volkswagen Buyers Guide

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved