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"Is that a Mercedes?" the curious fellow asked, walking around to the front of the 2013 Volkswagen CC in my driveway and noticing the large emblem.
"Oh. It's a VW?"
Yes, the CC hails from the same manufacturer who builds Beetles and Golfs. Except the CC is unique, slotting somewhere above the Passat on which it is based, with hints of the luxurious Phaeton (sold in Europe) thrown in. Built in Germany, the CC is hands-down the most beautiful car in the VW stable, so much so that its side profile could easily be mistaken for a Mercedes CLS.
The CC -- with frameless windows in the doors, sharp bi-xenon headlights and dotted under-lamp LED daytime running lights, coupled with almost Corvette-like LED rear tail lamps -- now has a strong but not overbearing presence. Known in Canada only as the CC, or comfort coupe, the long sedan receives plenty of compliments wherever it goes, especially when dressed in Black Oak brown metallic with desert beige Napa leather interior like our test car. Next year, red will be added to the colour choices. The CC truly is an attractive car and can swagger down a runway as elegantly as a Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ or Acura TL.
But the CC doesn't drive like a TL, at least not with the base CC's 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder driving the front wheels. While the little turbo can feel plenty brisk, exhibiting little lag on takeoff, it's hard to believe the big sedan weighs a sprightly 1,532 kilograms, feeling as though it must weigh more. Even with the 2.0L engine's healthy 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, time passes at a leisurely 7.6 seconds on the way to 100 kilometres per hour. Were it not for the lightning shifts of the optional six-speed DSG twin-clutch manumatic, getting to church would require careful time management.
The upside of this direct-injection engine, aside from being available with a manual transmission, is fuel economy rated as low as 6.4 L/100 km on the highway and 10.2 city. My averages didn't come close to that, but my driving wasn't typical either. Still, despite the vanilla power, I like this engine for what it is intended to do: provide decent economy and enough power for the driving needs of most people. There's very little noise or vibration and hardly any torque steer through the wheel. Paddle shifters behind the wheel help deliver a dose of sass, and the snappy DSG does have a sport mode, making it one of the best gearboxes in the business.
Out on the highway, passing power won't exactly wake Ron Fellows from an afternoon nap. Steering is light with some feedback, but the CC's handling will have a hard time surpassing anything from Bavaria or even a Cadillac ATS. A driver-adjustable suspension, like that on CCs sold in Europe, would go a long way to curing the CC's middle-of-the-road tuning that attempts to satisfy a broad spectrum of drivers. (Europe also gets a diesel in the CC, which we don't -- yet). Braking seemed to require a lot of pedal travel, even if stopping distances were not excessive.
For those of heavy right foot, there is an available 3.6L V-6 engine producing 280 hp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. Married to VW's Tiptronic automatic transmission, the V-6 CC returns a more impressive zero-to-100-km/h of 5.4 seconds and also comes with Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. But it also raises the cost considerably, from the $41,375 of our Highline with DSG transmission to more than $48,000 before freight and taxes, so clearly there's a price to pay for power.
What seems to be well worth the money is the $2,200 technology package in our CC that brought navigation, a 30-gigabyte hard drive and, more importantly, a 600-watt, 10-speaker sound package that is so good it can, impossibly, make Skrillex sound excellent. The rest of the CC's interior is likewise impressive, easily ranking among the best-executed for a mid-size sedan, with a good combination of textures, colours, brushed aluminum accents and a mix of buttons, knobs and touchscreen controls. While our 2013 CC required a clumsy push to the clunky key to engage the ignition, 2014 models will bring a push-button start and smart-key system that can allow drivers to keep the key in their pockets.
In the rear, the seat is a three-person bench, allowing the CC to now seat more than four. The panoramic roof adds plenty of light, but only tilts up. The front and rear seats can feel a little hard, but rear-seat legroom is good. The trunk, at 374 litres, is also agreeable, much like many other aspects of this car. That's because the CC is neither a boulevard cruiser nor serious sports sedan. Instead, it finds a comfortable middle ground of easy, enjoyable motoring. The bonus is its killer good looks.
-- Postmedia News