Smooth and Refreshing
Ask a group of auto enthusiasts to name the most stylish car you can buy today, and you’ll get any number of responses, since each of us perceives the world a little (or a lot) differently. But I’d bet there would be at least a few votes for the refreshed 2013 Volkswagen CC, a member of the oxymoronic “four-door coupe” clan and an aesthetic standout. The 2013 CC is dimensionally indistinguishable from the pre-refresh 2009-2012 cars, except the new kid on the block gains a back middle seat and a slightly more dignified look.
So while it’s been a relative hit with the enthusiast crowd, I wondered if the Comfort Coupe will cast a wider net beyond the car-obsessed community. With that in mind, I sought the insight of my friend Julie. Well-versed in animation — she concentrates on 3-D modeling and illustration — I’ve seen enough of Julie’s astounding work to realize she has the artist’s touch. (I took basic art in high school and am 100 percent positive I don’t have any artistic talent.) More important, she isn’t a crazy car fanatic with blind love or hate for Volkswagens, or any other brand, for that matter. Her detachment from the oft-polarizing enthusiast populace makes her ideal for fleshing out how an average car buyer with a more meticulous eye for design approaches a vehicle that relies on style as a unique selling point.
Despite having no formal automotive design training, Julie took note of the elegant exterior within the first minute of seeing the car, succinctly stating, “I like the lines.” The basic shape of the CC hasn’t changed, but the front and rear graphics have been modified to better sync it with the rest of the VW lineup. New, in-vogue LED daytime running lights and taillights are prominent, as are the now-standard bi-xenon headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System (the beams swivel up to 15 degrees through a corner). Julie felt the designers really wanted to highlight the sporty face and grow the car from there. She likened the details on the taillight lens covers to some abstract square paintings I claim no familiarity with.
The cabin is spectacular. The entry-level Sport’s powered leatherette seats exude higher quality and are softer to the touch and nicer to look at than the leatherette seats in MT’s long-term Jetta TDI. The interior color pattern, which combines neutral beige and classy black, plus silver from the brushed aluminum accents, drew Julie’s praise. It evoked memories of warm, comfortable couches, and the contrasting stitching on the seats had fans, too. Step up to the pricier models — from Sport onward, there’s Sport Plus, R-Line (available in early 2013), Lux, VR6 Lux, and VR6 4Motion Executive — and it gets even better: Navigation, Dynaudio sound system, sunroof, bigger wheels, and leather seats are among the goodies added. Sadly, USB audio playback is still absent. As mentioned earlier, the 2013 CC turns into a bona fide five-passenger sedan instead of the older four-seater, but taller folk will need to watch their noggins when climbing into the back seat, per usual.
It’s a pleasant enough car to drive, too. The CC has more in common with our previous-generation B6/current non-North American and non-Chinese Passat, such as the 106.7-inch wheelbase. It doesn’t have quite the assured handling of the 2012 Passat — our incumbent Car of the Year has a more occupant-conscious 110.4-inch wheelbase — and trades driver confidence for a smooth, quieter ride that is long on suspension travel yet remembers how to cling to the road. It manages dips and bumps wonderfully, but the ride gets busy when the street surface is pocked, characteristics that are actually very comparable to our Jetta TDI. I had colleague Nate Martinez trail me through a tight, twisty back road as I sampled the stability/traction control and brake-riding electronic differential lock. He had a prime seat to watch the CC vigorously lean from corner to corner. After laughing at me, Martinez said it was like watching the racing sports cars of old that love lifting the inside wheel.
The Volkswagen Group’s snarling 2.0-liter turbo-four, rated at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, will be the main engine taken on show floors. A six-speed manual can be had at the Sport and R-Line levels. It’s typical Volkswagen: The shifter is a little rubbery and vague, whereas the clutch catches relatively quickly, but there are worse alternatives out there. I’m jealous of the six-speed DSG though, which helped return a 6.4-second 0-60 mph time and quarter mile of 14.9 seconds at 94.6 mph, all while being noticeably better behaved than the Jetta TDI’s DSG. To compare, a 133-pound-lighter 2010 CC with the manual we tested hit 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and needed 15.3 seconds for the quarter mile with a trap speed of 92.1 mph. The 3.6-liter V-6 (280 hp and 265 lb-ft) and front-wheel drive is a new pairing for the 2013 model year, joining the creme de la creme VR6 with 4Motion all-wheel drive.
In 2011, the CC was VW’s third-best seller, behind the runaway sales successes that are the Jetta and the soon-to-be-replaced Golf/GTI. The Passat is likely to eclipse its swoopy compatriot in sales this year, but buyers who appreciate a touch of styling will, without a doubt, find the CC to be a refreshing option. With four years under its belt already, the CC is ready for more smooth sailing.
|2013 Volkswagen CC Sport|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$32,530|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/200-hp/207-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3404 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||188.9 x 73.0 x 55.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.9 sec @ 94.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||116 ft|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||22/31 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||153/109 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.77 lb/mile|