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2009 Volkswagen CC Luxury Review

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Sleekest VW Yet
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

Just a couple of months ago I reviewed the VW CC 4Motion VR6. You may have seen it here on Well, this week we have the VW CC in its turbo 4-cylinder iteration. If you’ve read any of my reviews of other hot VWs, like the GTI and GLI, you may recall that I’m particularly enamored with that wonderful 2.0-liter, turbocharged, direct-injected 4-cylinder engine, especially when mated to the quick-shifting DSG (dual-clutch) transmission. This CC is mated to the older Tiptronic 6-speed automatic, so it’s a half step less impressive, but still impressive.

Since I just reviewed the CC I’ll not rewrite the relevant stuff. I’ll just indicate it in quotation marks (and polish it up just a tad), if you don’t mind.

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“I’ve had a lot of VWs in my day, but this may be the sleekest and sexiest. I first encountered the CC at the Detroit auto show a couple of years ago and it figuratively jumped right out at me. It has a surprising resemblance to the new Mercedes styling language with a low nose, low rear and the arched center like a cat with a hunkered-up back. A distinct character line begins under the CC’s chin and flows smoothly around the front corner under the headlight rising steadily to the rear taillight. It’s only the overall shape, though, that says MB – the details say up-scale VW.”

Attractive 17-inch, 5-double-spoke alloy wheels with low-profile tires come standard on this one, whereas 18-inchers come on the VR6. Both contribute to the squat, athletic stance – making for great visual drama.

“What does CC stand for? It means ‘Comfort Coupe,’ they say. What a silly name. Our friends at VW are playing fast and loose with the semantics here. It certainly is not a coupe. After all, it has four doors and a B-pillar. It is comfortable - just a little tight getting in and out for me with a low roof line and small doors. To be fair, VW is not the first to stretch this “coupe” definition. Underneath it is purely Passat mid-size sedan - a competent, fun-to-drive sedan with German design, engineering and tuning.”

“CC is essentially a sexed-up version of Passat. The blacked-out B-pillar and window frames make it look a bit like a coupe, I guess, and certainly add to the more dramatic appearance. We might even call it a classic 2+2, since it is a 4-passenger sedan with a hard console separating the rear passengers. It’s comfortably roomy inside at all passenger positions and the trunk is roomy as well. It would be a fine traveling car for four.”

This CC is powered by the GTI’s smooth, sophisticated 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct injected, gasoline 4-cylinder making about 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It feels like more than that when we put our foot in it and it’s reported to do 0-to-60 in 7.4 seconds. With this little engine you can have a six speed stick or the trusty Tiptronic automatic, though you can’t have the quick-shifting dual-clutch DSG transmission. Too bad.

It’s also too bad to have to deal with the annoying neutral lock-out function. When we’re stopped at a light and I bump it into neutral so it doesn’t creep the transmission locks itself in neutral so we have to pinch the shift button and press the brake to put it back into gear. Most cars can just be bumped into and out of neutral when stopped. To its credit there is a button on the console called “Auto Hold” that we can push to prevent the creep as well and when in ‘hold’ mode it releases with the slightest touch of the gas pedal. Driving along Lake Shore Drive with traffic coagulating I decided that I prefer the free use of neutral to the Auto Hold.

The EPA rates the 2.0-liter CC at 19-mpg in the city and 29 on the highway using premium (minimum 91-octane) fuel. You can use regular grade fuel without damaging anything but performance (including mileage) will be compromised. I’ve found with most cars like this – turbo-enhanced cars, that is – that you’ll get enough better fuel mileage with premium that it justifies the extra cost at the pump. We experienced 26 mpg with our first tank of fuel in mixed driving conditions. The second tank was 95% highway and we got well over 30 mpg.

We have the smooth, six-speed Tiptronic on our test car and it does an excellent job. Under modest throttle, shifts are so smooth they are barely perceptible. Under full throttle we feel the shifts more intensely but they’re still smooth and quick enough. And, under full throttle we can go a few hundred rpms past the 6-grand redline before it insists on the next gear. I like that philosophy. Using the Tiptronic’s manual mode allows control for passing and other circumstances that the trans just doesn’t adjust to well enough for the discerning driver, but the automatic mode is fine for most drivers.

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“We climb into the cockpit a bit awkwardly, just because I’m too big. For a guy my size the lower roofline causes a bit of consternation. It would not be an issue for an average sized guy or gal.” The fine, leather seats are well bolstered and firm but accommodate my broad beam just fine. “The modern, stylish dash is directly from Passat and features sort of a three-tiered design. The top element forms a smooth brow over the gauges and the surface of the dash with an interesting visual separation near the windshield. Then a narrow strip of aluminum extends fully across the center separating the top from the lower dash. The center stack and controls are mostly simple and uncomplicated, though a bit more complex than then the simple Passat. Fit, finish and quality of materials are excellent.” My only complaint is the tilt/adjust release for the steering wheel that is way down the column where I can barely reach it. My pretty blonde couldn’t even find it when she took the car. And there are no grab handles at any of the door positions, but this is not really a car that is meant to appeal to the older folks.

“This is a pleasant, even entertaining, car on the road with just a few niggles. First, the cruise control is precise and quick to set but bumping the speed up or down results in 5-mph of range at a time. It should go up and down 1 mph at a time. Second, the dash lights don’t turn down enough at night. Finally, I’m not sure what the advantage of the push-the-fob-into-the-slot system is over a conventional key. The fob has a hard metal loop on it that hurts the finger. Let’s just use a push button start – the kind where you leave the fob in your pocket, like many other luxury, and some common makes, do it.”

I also found this turbo CC to be one of those cars with which we must be careful to pay attention to our speed. Many times I was well into extra-legal speeds before I realized it.

“The CC comes in five iterations. The two “Sport” and one “Luxury” models, starting at $27,100, define the lower end. Those three come with the 4-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbo engine. Then there are the two VR6 models: Sport (front-wheel drive) and VR6 4Motion (all-wheel drive), both with the V6 engine. Those two start at $38,300 and $39,300 respectively. That’s a pretty hefty premium for a few extra horsepower, about a second better 0-to-60 time and a bit more generous content.”

Our test car is the CC Luxury starting at $32,350. We have navigation and premium sound which, along with the $750 destination charge brings it up to $36,090. That seems like a lot of money for a 4-cylinder car, doesn’t it? Seems like once we get over 30-grand we should be looking at a V6 at least. In terms of power, performance and sophistication this one is no slouch, though, so we’ll cut it some slack.

“The new vehicle warranty covers the CC for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Corrosion protection is for 12 years and scheduled maintenance is free for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles.”

“VW reported profits up substantially for 2008, when the entire industry was suffering record losses. How did they do that? Well, the CC may give some insight.”

Other than the indistinct Routan minivan we reviewed last week, I think VW’s ambitious goals in the US market are supported by wonderful products and this is one of them.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved