Rob Douthit, Mon, 9 Mar 2009 08:00:00 PDT
The all new Volkswagen CC has a gracefully styled exterior and an elegant interior, creating an overall package that bears a striking similarity to something that would come from VW's luxury sister brand, Audi. Its performance and handling are also quite impressive, and actually outdo some Lexus and Mercedes models we've driven. So the real question is, will people want to pay a somewhat hefty (though worth it) sticker price for such a beautifully trimmed car that is wearing a VW badge?
We'll have to wait and see. On the interior, we loved the CC's front and rear headroom. The backseat also provided plenty of room. But given the CC's two-and-two configuration (two seats in front, two in rear), we wished for a bit more practicality.
This would actually be a terrific family car if the backseat could hold three people. Nevertheless, legroom back there is good. And the pair of souls who sit back there get a nice center console that has storage bins and cup holders. Not surprisingly, given VW's other products, the interior is very attractively designed.
The test drive car had brushed aluminum trim, supple leather upholstery and quality component material on the doors and dashboard. The driver will have no problem viewing the clear, well-placed gauges and using the intuitively designed controls. The trunk is rather deceptive; it looks fairly small, but actually goes back very deep.
Volkswagen says there are 13 cubic feet of storage space in the trunk. So as long as you're not going on a really long trip with lots of luggage, you should be fine. On the road, the CC, which is basically a more upscale version of the Passat sedan, has a buttery smooth ride. The tester, a VR6 4Motion, had a 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine that made 280 horsepower and 265 pounds-feet of torque.
It was mated to a six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. The 4Motion refers to the car's four-wheel drive system, which would no doubt be a big plus in cold-weather climates. Also available is a base front-wheel drive model with a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine that makes 200 horsepower. It comes with a six-speed manual transmission, with automatic being optional.
The most striking thing about the CC's on-road capability was its acceleration. While we were unable to get an official 0-60 mph time, our own informal test said that it got there, well, pronto. Handling on corners was also solid. The tester's fuel economy rating was 17 mpg city, 25 highway.
In combined driving, we got almost 19 mpg. VW says you should use premium gas to get the best performance. Volkswagen, an iconic German brand, is making an aggressive push to raise its profile in the U.S. After going through a period of a few years of irrelevancy, it seems determined to compete to be among the top sellers.
It's building a plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., that should help lower its production costs, and therefore make it better able to compete on price in this market. For the 2009 CC, prices start at around $26,790 for the base models. The tester, which was fully loaded, stickered at $42,630, which again raises the question of whether a car carrying that kind of price tag and wearing a VW badge will sell.
VW is trying to get the word out about the CC. It is running those mildly clever TV ads in which a couple is riding in the car and they see the testimonial words about the car flash over their heads, and realize that they are in a car commercial. If only now the company can get actual people to get into the car, they'll probably be impressed and see that Volkswagen can do luxury.