2013 Volkswagen CC Lux

When shoppers first strolled into a VW dealership in 2009, they probably thought this car had been delivered to the wrong German brand.  After all, stylish and Volkswagen are two words rarely used in the same sentence.  They sure make an engaging driver’s car but beauty usually found itself near the bottom of the resume.

Then known as the Passat CC, it was a car that brought a flair for the dramatic by elegantly sculpting a 2-door look into a sedan bodytsyle.  So here we are with the updated 2013 model that only slightly tinkers with the original.  This front-drive, compact is powered by a turbo 4 or VR6 engine with 3 transmission choices and the option of all-wheel drive.  My tester is the CC Lux, the top 4-cylinder model that comes standard with the 6-speed DSG automatic, 18” St Louis style aluminum wheels, dark brushed-aluminum trim, a sunroof and ambient lighting.  MSRP is $36,180.

The CC is a car whose success has been predicated on sensuous design enveloping a practical, upscale space without the luxury price tag.  The styling changes that have been made include revisions to the front and rear fascias and the addition of standard LED daytime running lights and Bi-Xenon headlights.  Seeing as how I’m not a huge fan of the new grille permeating the VW brand, I don’t perceive the new look as better.  As a matter of fact, I think the CC has lost a little of its visual mojo. The interior, highlighted by the quilted look of its black leatherette seats, now has seating for 5…at least in theory.  With a lack of padding and a high center tunnel, the middle back position should be avoided if possible.  In general though, this midsize wannabe provides comfort in back for 2 and a generously sized trunk with useful grocery bag hooks that’s expandable with splitfold rear seats.  The center stack is marked by the dated RNS 315 touchscreen navigation system and there’s no smart key operation.  Otherwise the cabin looks VW chic and has a good tactile quality though 4 years later the CC’s surprising level of luxury has been washed out.

I’ve driven a number of CCs over the years and after this week I’ve concluded I prefer the VR6/4Motion combo over this 200 horsepower engine.  It works in a number of VW/Audi products but here it feels a bit juvenile.  The CC has an air of sophistication that is more befitting a 6-cylinder and 6-speed auto.  Though the DSG is a wonderful dual clutch gear box that can be shifted manually at the column, sorry no paddle shifters unless you get the R-Line model, it again doesn’t mesh with the uptown experience I want from the CC.  Gas mileage is rated at 22mpg city/31mpg highway on premium.  As is, the car is adequately quick with a 0-to-60mph time of 6.5-seconds, uses its electric steering system to confidently guide it with typical VW precision and rides on a sport tuned suspension that allows for the added hustle the body advertises.  The CC is a blend of mild sports sedan and uptown personality…a kind of a poor man’s Mercedes CLS.  VW could have done more here 4 years later, and as such some of the excitement of the original is in the rear view mirror.

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