Volkswagen CC 2.0T 2013

First Drive Review

In designing the latest Jetta and the U.S.-market Passat, Volkswagen didn’t take many aesthetic risks. Their innocuous, slab-sided shapes reflect modern, strip-mall Americana as much as they contrast the elegance of the brand’s other U.S.-market sedan, the eminently European CC.

Graceful as it is, the CC has been largely unchanged since its emergence as a 2009 model. For 2013, it adopts new styling cues that bring it in line with its more-modern, Yankee-fied siblings. Fearful that the comparison-test-winning four-door coupe’s other strengths were ironed out in the process, we headed to Half Moon Bay near San Francisco for a closer look.

Family Matters

Approach the 2013 CC and you get a familiar feeling; its new three-bar chrome grille looks plucked straight from the Passat and gives the car a harder, chunkier mug. Bright, bixenon headlights flank the new face and are accented by standard LED daytime running lights on all but base Sport models; the LED DRLs are part of the Sport’s optional adaptive front-lighting system. The hood and front bumper also are tweaked, and the car’s side sills are more sculpted than before. The cool, frameless doors carry over.

The CC’s rear also has been restyled and incorporates standard LED taillights that illuminate in an unmistakable “CC” shape. New 17- and 18-inch aluminum wheel designs unique to the CC complete the visual reinvention.

Volkswagen claims the effort makes the car even more elegant while adding some muscle to its stance. That’s a difficult combination to pull off when the original car’s soft, delicate look was its calling card. It’s still one of the prettiest sedans for the money, but the look has been somewhat commoditized.

Five’s a Party

The other major change for 2013 is the addition of a center seating position in the back, something that’s been offered as an option on the European model for a couple of years. With the addition of a seatbelt and some raised padding in place of the bin that was there before, it retains the four-seat look but eliminates what VW says was the car’s greatest point of rejection among potential buyers.

Just don’t expect it to be of much use with full-size passengers. The rear footwells are tight, and the sloping, tapered greenhouse severely crimps head- and shoulder room. Occupants quickly will become acquainted with each other. Minor trim changes keep the rest of the cabin fresh, which is good because the CC’s seats and ergonomics were already excellent.

Familiar Guts and Gears

Four- and six-cylinder engines, as well as chassis bits, carry over untouched. The ride is still refined yet sporty, the steering light but tactile and responsive. All the controls are well-placed and have a premium feel to them.

Our wheel time was limited to the 200-hp 2.0T model, which comes with front-wheel drive and a choice of a slick-shifting six-speed manual or the six-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic, depending on the trim level. The 2.0T is wonderfully tractable and makes more than enough power to have fun on an empty mountain road. Compared with pricier, 280-hp VR6 models we’ve driven in the past, the 2.0T feels lighter and more responsive. (The VR6 remains available with front- or 4Motion all-wheel drive for 2013.)

Finessing the Lineup

Prices increase slightly over last year, with 2.0T stickers ranging from $31,070 to $36,175. Base CC Sport models are well-equipped with 17-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, heated and powered front seats, a touch-screen audio system with eight speakers, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, and leatherette seating.

Stepping up to the 2.0T Sport Plus adds the front LEDs and adaptive front lighting, as well as navigation, the DSG gearbox, and 18-inch wheels. The top-level 2.0T Lux model brings different 18s and interior trim, along with ambient cabin lighting and a sunroof. A sporty R-Line model will reappear later in the year and will feature a more-aggressive steering wheel and exterior highlights, along with unique 18s and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. Pricing has yet to be released, but it should come in just above the Sport Plus model.

VR6 models start at $38,550 for a front-drive Lux and include all of the 2.0T items, as well as heated headlight washers, a rearview camera, navigation with a larger touch screen, leather seating with heated and cooled chairs up front, and “Interlagos” 18-inch wheels. The VR6 4Motion Executive ($42,240) adds all-wheel drive, paddle shifters, a massaging driver’s seat, front and rear parking sensors, an upgraded Dynaudio sound system, and a power rear sunshade.

Despite their reserved styling, the new Jetta and Passat have shown to be strong sellers in the U.S. market. Even if the CC’s refresh has diminished its beauty, the sedan remains the most attractive VW of them all. On top of that, it still drives sweetly.

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