2013 Volkswagen CC Highline Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

Published on January 15, 2013

It's one thing to be amongst a few niche players in a given segment, and it's another thing altogether to be the entire niche segment. Such is the case with Volkswagen's CC, the lone mainstream four-door coupe, inspired by a unique low-slung sport sedan body style that's all the rage in the premium sector.

Mercedes-Benz started the ball rolling with its gorgeous CLS, now in its second generation. Four-door coupe imitators soon followed including Audi's sleek A7 and BMW's most recently introduced 6 Series Grand Coupe. At the very top of the heap is Aston Martin's stunning Rapide fighting it out with the priciest versions of Porsche's jaw-dropping Panamera, while as mentioned the most affordable four-door coupe available is Volkswagen's CC.

It's a beautiful car. Even nicer now than when first taking my journo colleagues and me by surprise at the Detroit auto show in 2008. The new three-slat horizontal grille keeps it in step with VW's new familial identity, mirrored by a new visually wide lower fascia. De rigueur LED DRLs in the revised rectangular headlamp clusters are a seemingly necessary sign of progress, and new LED-enhanced taillights match the headlights by losing their ovoid centres for a leaner more horizontal shape. Overall, if you like clean linear uniformity you'll love the CC's new details.

I happen to fall into that camp, leaning towards skinny jeans, thin lapelled suit jackets, Voss water (or better yet Bree Riesling), unadorned flatware, contemporary to modern furniture, and the same style of apartments and housing. It makes sense then that I gravitate to simple yet elegant sheet metal, yet something I'm glad VW didn't change is the CC Highline's turbine-inspired standard wheel design. Gorgeous is an understatement, and nicely sized at 18 inches with 235/40s wrapping their extremities. The Passat might be VW's largest North American car, but the CC is its soul-stirring flagship.

That's most noticeable inside where the CC comes very close to rivaling Audi for premium status. Not all surfaces are soft to the touch, but the most important areas are, and the overall interior design is breathtakingly elegant with a two-tone black and beige motif highlighted by brushed metals, chrome accents, and four of the most inviting seats in the mainstream sector. Their inserts are ribbed in beige leather while anthracite bolsters are detailed with contrasting tan stitching for a rich appearance that wouldn't look out of place in a sporting Bentley, although a purposeful omission of wood veneers points to its Teutonic heritage.

Another decidedly Germanic tradition can be found under the hood of my tester: a four-cylinder engine. You'd think that a top-tier model like this could only be had with VW's powerful 3.6-litre V6, and while that ultra-smooth 280-horsepower mill can be purchased you can still opt for the CC's most luxurious Highline trim with the 2.0-litre turbocharged four. This direct-injection engine makes a healthy 200-horsepower and even more energetic 207 lb-ft of torque for acceleration that most should find adequately quick thanks to 100-percent of its thrust available from way down at 1,700 rpm. Highway passing power is just as lively even when loaded with family and gear, while the CC's six-speed DSG dual-clutch automated transmission is extremely smooth through the gears yet totally responsive when dipping into the throttle or flicking through the paddles. Something that still makes me smile is the CC's standard manual gearbox, also with six forward speeds for maximizing fuel efficiency.

Claimed fuel economy looks a bit different on paper for 2013 but equates to nearly the same as it was last year when combining city and highway ratings, now 10.2 for the former and 6.4 for the latter with the manual compared to 10.0 and 6.7 for the 2012 model, whereas the DSG automatic is a bit thriftier than the current manual in the city at 9.7 and slightly thirstier on the highway at 6.6, but still more or less the same as last year's 9.6 and 6.6 rating. The V6, incidentally, gets a claimed rating of 12.7 and 8.3, identical to last year's estimates.

As important as fuel economy is in today's market, it would be a mistake for VW to bias the car solely towards efficiency and forget performance. To this end the CC is a real joy to drive. I mentioned its acceleration is more than ample, but where it shines even more is on a circuitous two-lane mountainside roadway where its performance-tuned fully independent suspension grips pavement as capably as it absorbs bumps and potholes. The usual MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar combine for frontal adhesion while a stabilizer bar joins a sophisticated four-link setup in the rear to make sure the CC's back end stays within its lane even when push comes to shove through tight, bumpy corners at high speeds. Where the Passat is VW's family sedan, the CC is truly its sport sedan, so the standard sport suspension means spring settings are a little firmer and resultant performance more engaging. It doesn't even begin to beat up your backside mind you, although you'll feel more of the road surface and greater connection through its electromechanical power steering system.

The three-spoke leather-clad multifunction steering wheel it connects to is part of the visceral experience, and just one of many standard CC Sportline features. Some additional standard highlights include automatic bi-xenon HID adaptive headlights, an electronic parking brake, proximity-sensing access and pushbutton ignition, rain-sensing wipers, an elegant analogue clock, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 12-way powered driver seat, heated front cushions, colour touchscreen infotainment with a rearview camera, auxiliary and USB inputs, 30-pin iPod connectivity, Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth, plus auto up/down powered windows all-round, hill-hold assist, and more, while all the expected safety gear is part of the standard package too. Options on the base car include a 10-speaker 600-watt Dynaudio upgrade, navigation system with a 30-gig hard drive, and a powered tilt and slide panoramic glass sunroof with a manual sunshade.

My Highline test model makes the sunroof standard and grows the wheels from 17 inches to the aforementioned 18s, while also adding the brushed aluminum trim and beautiful leather sport seats I commented on already, plus memory functions, the paddle shifters on the DSG and more. Navigation and the Dynaudio sound system didn't come with my tester yet are also available in the Highline, although I didn't really miss them. Then again, I've listened to the stereo upgrade and it's worth the money if you're an audiophile, while many jurisdictions have made cellphone use illegal when driving and in the case of my province have even outlawed touching your device at all, so you won't be able to enjoy the less expensive benefits of smartphone navigation unless you can find a way to prop it up on the CC's dash to see instructions or pull over every time you need to get an update, which isn't very practical. For me, the $2,200 VW is asking for both the navigation and Dynaudio systems seems like the logical choice if you have you have the need or desire, although I'd like to see Volkswagen move to a system that would allow full integration of the most popular smartphones so that trip settings could be input before even getting in the car and executed via the phone working in conjunction with the car's Bluetooth and infotainment system. Now that other automakers are doing likewise, we're starting to expect it.

As for what I didn't expect but was pleasantly surprised to see in the CC's elegantly tapered design was a trunk large enough for all my family's ski gear and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks to fit it all inside with room to spare for a third passenger. Its 374-litre capacity isn't anywhere near as large as the Passat's, but for my needs it proved more than ample.

Again, the CC is in a class of one, so let's not compare it to other midsize models like some rival brands will try to do. VW has the Passat to go head-to-head in the highly competitive midsize war, whereas the CC offers something truly special to those willing to give up a little space in order to access a significant amount of style.

2013 Volkswagen CC pricing starts at $36,520 including destination for the base Sportline and tops out at $52,270 with the V6 in top-tier R-Line trim if you opt for special paint (metallic options are no charge). My auto-equipped 2.0T Highline tester came to $42,770, destination in.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sport Sedan, Four-Door Coupe, Volkswagen, VW, 2013, CC, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999,

Organizations: Volkswagen

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