2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC. Click image to enlarge
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First Drive: 2013 Volkswagen CC

Manufacturer’s Website
Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2013 Volkswagen CC

Sometimes, it’s all about looking good. Sure, it would be easy to point out the practical advantages of the VW Passat sedan over its coupe-like Passat stablemate, the CC—more interior room, more trunk room, more rear headroom, easier access, lower price, etc.—but good-looking cars often sacrifice practicality for appearance, and for some sedan buyers, handsome styling outweighs practical considerations.

The sleek VW CC (stands for Comfort Coupe, although it’s actually a four-door sedan) is VW’s fashion alternative for just such a buyer. Based on the previous generation Passat platform and built in Emden, Germany (the new Passat sedan is built in Chattanooga, Tennessee), the CC is currently at the top of VW’s automobile hierarchy in Canada with a price range between $35,125 and $48,475. For 2013, it features revised front and rear styling that further enhances its clean lines. The previous V-shaped front bumper design has been replaced by horizontal lines that more closely resemble VWs global design theme seen in the Golf, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan, Touareg, et al. The CC’s new upper grille has three chrome bars instead of two at the top and a new body-width lower grille with inset foglights. As well, the CC has new bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights that wrap around the nose, and at the rear, new slimmer taillights with distinctive LED lighting. It’s not a huge change from last year’s CC, but at least VW didn’t mess it up.

Inside the CC, VW’s European classiness continues with standard leatherette or optional leather seats, soft-touch instrument panel plastics, brushed aluminum trim, chrome-ringed, illuminated gauges, and large centre touch-screen. Our test car had attractive two-tone beige and black seats and a two-tone dash with generous aluminum trim. The fit and finish is excellent, of luxury car standards.

2013 Volkswagen CC2013 Volkswagen CC2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC. Click image to enlarge

The CC is not all about looks, though. One important change for 2013 is completely practical: VW has added a centre rear seat, upping occupant capacity from four to five. At first glance, it still looks like there are two rear seats because the outboard rear seats are dished out while the centre seat is higher; as well, the centre seat has a rather uncomfortable folding armrest serving as a backrest and a centre tunnel and centre console intruding on leg space. But the centre rear seat does have its own head restraint and three-point seatbelt. Sitting there is not very comfortable, and the cabin is not that wide for three adults, so I suspect it won’t be used very often—but it’s there if you need it.

The 2013 VW CC Sportline ($35,125) and Highline ($39,975) come with VW’s ubiquitous turbocharged 200-hp 2.0L four-cylinder engine and standard six-speed manual or optional ($1,400) six-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) dual-clutch transmission. The CC Highline V6 ($48,475) offers a 280-hp V6 with a standard six-speed automatic transmission (not a DSG) with Tiptronic manual shift capability; the V6 model also comes with standard 4Motion all-wheel drive (which unfortunately is not available with the four-cylinder engine). Today’s test car is a CC Highline with the 2.0L turbo and DSG transmission with an as-tested price of $41,375 plus $1,395 Freight and $100 A/C tax for a total of $42,870, before taxes. That’s getting awfully close to luxury brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, placing the CC in a market niche somewhere between top-end mid-size family sedans and low-end compact luxury cars.

Standard features in the base CC Sportline model include leatherette seats, 12-way power front seats with lumbar adjuster, front seat heaters, automatic dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights, touch-screen for audio and telephone functions, satellite radio, Bluetooth audio, rearview camera, and trip computer. For an extra $2,200 you can add a Technology Package with a navigation system, 30-GB hard drive and a 10-speaker 600-watt Dynaudio sound system. Also optional is a $1,400 Panorama Vent sunroof. The CC Highline model adds 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, front sport seats, the Panorama Vent sunroof, brushed aluminum trim, and paddles shifters with the DSG transmission. The top-of-the-line CC Highline V6 4Motion adds the 600-watt sound system, navigation system, and power rear sunshade in addition to the V6 engine and all-wheel drive.

2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC. Click image to enlarge

On the road, the CC is comfortable, quick, quiet, and easy to drive. Pumping out 200 hp between 5,100 and 6,000 rpm and 207 lb-ft of torque starting at just 1,700 rpm, the CC’s turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0L four-cylinder engine offers plenty of power from the get-go and pushes the CC past 96 km/h (60 mph) in just 7.5 seconds, according to Consumer Reports (with the DSG). Cruising along in sixth gear at 100 km/h, the tachometer shows only 1,900 rpm and there is little engine, wind, or road noise. The DSG shifts quickly in automatic mode, and you can have some fun by putting the shift lever in manual mode and shifting with the small paddles behind the steering wheel. My only reservation with the DSG is a slight surging when first starting out—as though it’s not quite in gear yet; however, it’s a momentary lapse that quickly gives way to a rush of power and acceleration. Dual-clutch transmissions work by alternating two wet clutches, one for first, third, fifth, and Reverse gears, and the other for second, fourth, and sixth gears. The next higher gear is always engaged on standby ready to be engaged when the ideal shift point is determined.

The CC’s 2.0L turbo and six-speed DSG combination provides good performance and reasonably good fuel economy: ratings from NRCan (with DSG) are 9.7/6.6 L/100 km city/highway while the EPA’s ratings are 10.7/7.6 L/100 km city/ highway. My car’s onboard fuel consumption readout showed an average of 9.1 L/100 km. Premium fuel is recommended. Compare that to the CC V6 with and an EPA rating of 13.8/8.7 city/highway.

The CC, as expected of a Volkswagen, handles very well and considering its comfortable ride there’s surprisingly little lean in the corners. Still, its front-heavy weight distribution denies it the balanced handling you’ll find in a rear-drive 320i, 328i or even a front-drive A4. The CC is a nimble handler but it’s not a performance sedan. My test car was equipped with meaty Continental ContiPro Contact 235/40R18-inch all-season tires, which seemed to be a good all-around tire for wet and dry weather. Four disc brakes with ABS are standard and the CC’s braking distance from 96 km/h (60 mph) to a dead stop in the dry is just 40.5 metres (133 ft.) according to Consumer Reports.

2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC. Click image to enlarge

The CC’s supportive and comfortable front seats have plenty of headroom and legroom and both seats feature power height, rake, and in-and-out and up-and-down lumbar adjustments—plus seat heaters with three temperature settings. At the rear, sitting ‘behind myself’, I found about an inch of headroom, and sufficient knee room and foot room for my 175 cm (5’9”) frame, but the low seating position forces the knees into an upward stance and getting in and out requires ducking under the sloping roofline. The aforementioned fold-down centre armrest includes flip-out cupholders and a covered storage area and provides a handy centre armrest for outboard passengers.

The CC’s small, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio and telephone buttons adjusts up and down and in and out to accommodate any sized driver. Visibility is quite good except for some obstruction by the three rear head restraints. Assisting rear vision is a rearview camera that provides a nice view of the area behind the car in the centre screen when the transmission is put in Reverse. Dash controls are easy to reach and the bright backlit gauges are easy to read. A trip computer display between the gauges provides useful info on average fuel economy, range, travel time, average speed as well as outside temperature. It can also display your connected smart phone contacts list, call history, and Bluetooth audio song selection.

2013 Volkswagen CC
2013 Volkswagen CC. Click image to enlarge

The CC’s 373 L (13.2 cu. ft.) trunk is deep with a carpeted floor, walls, and lined trunk lid and has an open storage bin on the right side. The rear seatbacks fold down and there is a centre pass-through behind the rear armrest. Under the trunk floor is, surprise, surprise, a full-size spare tire with alloy wheel. Dagnab it Rufus, haven’t seen one of those since before my pappy was born!

It’s difficult to pinpoint the CC’s primary competitors: there are few mid-sized or large sedans that offer the same combination of stylishness, quality, and four-cylinder turbo power; competitors might include the Kia Optima SX turbo or the Sonata 2.0T, Buick Regal Turbo, or even the BMW 328i or Audi A4. There are certainly plenty of less stylish sedans with which it doesn’t compete.

By the way, the 2013 VW CC is recommended by Consumer Reports.

Pricing: 2013 Volkswagen CC Highline
Base price (Sportline 2.0T): $35,125
Base price (Highline 2.0T): $39,975
Options: $1,400 (6-speed DSG with Tiptronic)
Freight: $1,395
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $42,870

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Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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