It’s long been a trend among upscale German automakers – they take one of their four-door sedans, revamp the sheet metal to make it more stylish, and top off the vehicle with a sleek roofline. The result, each company claims, is a coupe, despite the fact that these cars have four doors.
Now Volkswagen has jumped on the bandwagon. As with its upscale rivals, the Volkswagen CC, or “comfort coupe,” is based on a four-door sedan and keeps all its doors. The sheet metal is modified to enhance appearances while the roof has a rakish slope that shouts “coupe.” It’s a genuine head-turner for which Volkswagen – as well as its German competitors –charges a price premium.
However, the Volkswagen CC’s premium is based on a much lower starting point. As a result, this sleek automobile can cost from $10,000 to $41,000 less than its more prestigious competitors.
My wife Paula and I reviewed the VR6 Executive model with 4Motion all-wheel drive and 280 horsepower. It easily justified its $43,760 starting price. Note that more basic versions, powered by Volkswagen’s smooth and quick 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, can shave more than $10,000 off that price.
The Volkswagen CC comes in four versions: Sport, R-Line, Executive (new this year) and the VR6 4Motion Executive. The first three of these models feature the four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. Sport and R-Line models also come with a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional six-speed dual clutch automatic, which is standard in the Executive trim line. Our VR6 4Motion features a standard six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Performance is excellent. The VR6 motor is eager, despite what some would consider a modest 280-horsepower rating. The six-speed automatic shifts nicely. Sixty miles per hour arrives in 6.8 seconds, compared to 7.9 seconds for the last CC we drove with the four-cylinder motor.
When it comes to ride and handling, the CC occupies a middle ground. It’s not a sports sedan nor is it a softer riding family sedan with unfocused handling. Rather, it charts a course between the two, offering a firm but comfortable ride and precise, rewarding responses to steering inputs. This combination makes the CC genuinely fun to drive.
The driving experience is enhanced by the interior, which even in the base model is handsome and carefully crafted. The seats up front are low, but comfortable.
Rear-seat space isn’t great for adults. The sloping roof, which is stylish when viewed from the outside, becomes a liability for taller adults sitting on the inside in the back seat. The trunk is reasonable, but not overwhelming, at 13.2 cubic feet.
The styling also leads to two other disadvantages. The trunk lid opening is small, which can complicate loading cargo, and rear visibility is poor. The rearview camera, which comes on the Executive models, is a must.
Stylish and competent, the Volkswagen CC is also great fun to drive. You could pay more and end up with much less.
This 2014 Volkswagen CC is not your typical Volkswagen. This is a model that in many ways places style over practicality.
For example, the seating is low, so this car is poorly suited for shorter drivers -- the driver’s seat power adjustments need to deliver a little more height. A shorter driver also gets close to the windshield pillar, which along with the rearview mirror, blocks the view of traffic from the left at intersections. Finally, the sloped rear window is large, but due to its angle the view to the rear is tiny. At least in the Executive model my husband Jim and I had there is a power rear sunscreen to help protect rear seat passengers from the sun.
Our model also had a backup camera, which is a must in this car. Unfortunately, it took 15 seconds to activate after first starting the car and placing the transmission in reverse. I suspect most drivers won’t wait for it to start before backing. After the car has been on, the image appears instantly when reverse is engaged. The delay impacts the backup camera only after initially starting the car.
I found the CC quite pleasant on the road. It’s fun to drive and I could become addicted to the admiring glances that came from complete strangers, despite the fact that this model has been around for five years.
From a practical standpoint, the rear seat should work for growing families of four. However, once the teens begin to sprout parents should expect complaints about back seat room. The trunk is deep and, as with the rest of the car, beautifully finished. Gauges are clear and nicely lit even during the day, so dark tunnels won’t leave a driver guessing their speed. Fuel economy came to 21.8 miles per gallon in our week with the car. Premium fuel is recommended for both the four-cylinder and the VR6 engines.
I enjoyed our time with the Volkswagen CC, though I would say that this is a Volkswagen that places style ahead of some functions.
Engines: 2.0 Turbo Four 3.6 VR6
HP: 200 280
Torque: 207 265
EPA Manual: 21/32 N/A
EPA Automatic 22/31 17/25
Starts at: $32,495
Next week: Ford Escape
Jim MacPherson is the host of "The Car Doctor" show Sundays at noon on WTIC-AM. Paula MacPherson is his wife and new-car review partner. Send comments, questions, suggestions in care of Special Publications, Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115 or email email@example.com. For more automotive news, check out the Cars.com On The Road section each Wednesday in The Courant.