2013 Volkswagen CC R-Line Road Test Review

Mike Sommer - CAP staff
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On first impression the Volkswagen CC does not look like a VW, but a much more expensive upscale German rival from the likes of Mercedes or BMW, especially after its recent mid-cycle refresh. It's finished nicely too, and features some of the same top-level features as these industry heavyweights, but of course it's a Volkswagen so you won't be paying as much of a premium for luxury and performance.

When Volkswagen first launched it in 2009, the CC (or Comfort Coupe) was an entirely new approach in automotive design for this well-established German car company. There was a sense of pride combined with nervous anticipation as to how the market would respond to a daring and sleek four-door coupe with frameless doors, comfortable four-passenger cabin and sweptback roofline. Today grand coupes or four-door coupes are available from a variety of brands including BMW, Mercedes and Audi, let alone Porsche and Aston Martin. So can VW mix in with this crowd? Certainly, albeit in its own budget conscious way.

Yet make no mistake Volkswagen is going after a more upscale buyer with this vehicle. From its aggressive stance, daytime LED front light structure to beautifully sculpted tail lamps it looks like Volkswagen has injected some of what it learned from the Phaeton into this latest iteration CC. While small inside when compared to that Phaeton or even the new Passat, the CC is still a fairly large car for VW. It feels right at home on freeways for long commutes be it to work or the golf course. Even in my tester's R-Line trim the fully independent suspension and 18-inch wheels and tires soak up road imperfections nicely, isolating passengers from any unpleasant roughness.

In an attempt to move the car's image up-market and avoid model confusion Volkswagen has dropped the Passat name and now simply refers to the car as CC. As the most affordable four-door coupe on the market today, and with the introduction of the R-Line trim level the CC continues to impress. R-Line trim adds a host of new features including a more aggressive front grille, projector-style fog lamps, 18-inch "Mallory" aluminum-alloy wheels, and a much-improved DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the latter item standard with the Highline trim level that's prerequisite.

That gearbox connects through to Volkswagen's award-winning turbocharged and direct injected 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder engine. With an output of 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque the engine is perfectly matched to the six-speed DSG. Performance is decent for a vehicle this size, but it has nowhere near the liveliness off the line of an Audi with the same 2.0T engine. Of course, this is as it should be. The DSG transmission provides quick and smooth shifts, while torque isn't so strong as to upset the car's front-wheel drive configuration on takeoff. That being said one has to really put their foot to the floor to get the engine to perform, and this makes overtaking on the freeway something you need to pre-plan. If more performance is important to you the CC can be had with a 280 horsepower 3.6-litre V6 with 265 lb-ft of torque.

One of the marked advantages of the four-cylinder engine is that it provides decent fuel economy. Ratings for this car suggest 6.4 L/100km on the highway and 10.2 city. Great care is needed to achieve these results, as our numbers came back nowhere near this range. Mind you our driving may have been a bit more aggressive than average.

The CC R-Line shares the same strut-type sport-tuned suspension as the standard car, which includes coil springs and telescopic dampers up front and a compact multilink coil-spring design in the rear. The steering rack is electro-mechanical with variable assistance based on vehicle speed, and of course there are ABS-enhanced disc brakes at all four corners.

Although not designed for all out performance or weekend track days the CC R-Line holds its own on mountain roads. Steering feedback is decent and brakes hold up well under emergency duty. Full use of mirrors and shoulder checks are required when attempting high-speed lane changes, being that there are a number of blind spots; as is common for four-door coupes.

Inside, the CC looks like it was designed for urban professionals now doffing their GTIs and instead seeking comfort and spaciousness over bolstered seats and aggressive performance. Carrying over styling cues from the initial design, the 2013 iteration offers a balance between entry-level luxury and a sensible four-door sedan. One of the most significant additions of this mid-cycle refresh is a middle seat in the rear bench that now allows a total of five people aboard instead of the previous version's maximum of four. Three passengers in the rear will be a tight squeeze unless we're talking children, since the swooping roofline takes up a large amount of headroom. Passengers over six feet tall are well advised to bargain for the front seat whenever possible.

Up front the driver has an expansive view of the road along with a feeling of spaciousness that comes from the CC's wide-open cabin, plus extra ambient light pours in from the large glass sunroof. The R-Line's three-spoke steering wheel has a sporty feel to it and the car's infotainment system can be managed from here via redundant controls. The modern instrument panel and gauges are surrounded by a generous amount of chrome trim, giving the car more luxury appeal. For a vehicle in this price range the interior feel is a cut above and has the fit and finish one may expect in an Audi, Mercedes or BMW. However, one thing that did stand out was the heavy use of plastics for knobs and buttons. For a car in this segment a bit more attention to premium tactile feel would have been nice.

My verdict? If you're in the market for a German car that has ample style, comfort and presence and don't use your back seat all that often then look no further than the Volkswagen CC. It offers 90-percent of the premium experience delivered up by more expensive German rivals, yet at a significantly discounted price. The CC starts at $36,520 including freight and PDI while the Highline trimmed car we drove, with its $1,400 DSG gearbox, $2,200 R-Line package, $2,200 Technology package that includes navigation and impressive Dynaudio sound, plus $200 Oak Brown paint came to a total price of $47,370. A lot of car for under $50k.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

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

Organizations: Volkswagen

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