2013 Volkswagen CC: Elegant, keen engineering, strong performance

Styling of the elegant-looking Volkswagen CC has been sharpened for 2013, and it’s been given a third rear-seating section, making it a five-seater.

The 2013 CC looks sharper, with new front and rear styling. And its new bi-xenon headlights are styled after those of Volkswagen’s costly Euro-market Phaeton. They look as if they could light up a Super Bowl game. Also new are LED taillights.

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The CC resembles a coupe with its flowing roofline and swept back rear windows. This four-door looks low-slung and is 188 inches long. But it’s rather narrow, as if built for European roads. The low front end can easily be damaged, and thick front roof pillars partially obstruct visibility when turning street corners.

The old center backseat area had two seats separated by a central roll-top covered fold-down console with beverage holders. But the new rear center seating position is uncomfortable and best left to the fold-down center armrest, which has pop-out rather cheap-feeling plastic cupholders.

New VW CC has seat upgrade

The CC thus realistically remains a four-seater for adults, and there isn’t a surplus of legroom behind the driver.

Volkswagen figures CC rivals include the Acura TSX, Buick Regal, Hyundai Azera and Nissan Maxima. I’d throw the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Returning this year is the R-Line model, which starts at $33,020. It has a sportier front bumper with a lower air intake, side skirts, navigation system and 40-series tires on unique 18-inch alloy wheels.But the regular 2013 CC models will do just fine. Most come with front-wheel drive, although the costly top model has standard all-wheel drive.

The new front-drive CC is nicely equipped with comfort and convenience features. It’s priced with a strong turbocharged, 200-horsepower four-cylinder from $30,250 to $35,355. A 3.6-liter V-6 with 280 horsepower and more torque powers the $37,730 to $41,420 models, with the $41,420 model having standard all-wheel drive.

You must grab an upscale CC Sport Plus, starting at $32,850, to get a panoramic sunroof and back-up camera. The top dog $41,420 VR6 4Motion Executive model gets a navigation system and park-distance control.

The CC comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or a responsive six-speed DSG automatic dual-clutch transmission, which is the one to get with the CC. The DSG has an easily operated manual-shift feature.

Fuel injection equals keen acceleration

The sophisticated direct-injected four-cylinder in my test car provided fast off-the-line acceleration and quick high-speed passing. It smoothly loafed at 2,000 r.p.m. at 65 mph and made the V-6 seem superfluous.

The CC’s electro-mechanical variable-assist power steering was quick, although rather firm. The car handles adroitly, although it isn’t quite a sports sedan despite its fully independent sports suspension.

Electronic stability control helps keep things stable if a driver overdoes it on curves. All-wheel disc brakes stop the CC quickly and smoothly and are controlled by a brake pedal with a rather long linear motion. The ride is supple.

The CC is rigidly built. The four-cylinder version weighs from 3,358 to 3,369 pounds, and the V-6 model is at 3,609 pounds.

Safety items include plenty of air bags and side curtains, besides anti-slip regulation.

Estimated fuel economy with the four-cylinder is 21 miles per gallon city and 32 mpg on highways with the manual gearbox. It’s 22 and 31 with the DSG automatic. The V-6 comes only with the DSG automatic and provides 17 city and 25 highway. Premium fuel is recommended for both the four-cylinder and V-6.

I tested the $31,710 front-drive DSG Sport with a black Oak Brown metallic exterior that really brought out the cars lovely lines. Equally attractive was the high-quality desert beige/black leatherette interior that was quiet except for some wind noise.

The thick steering wheel could be easily gripped, and backlit gauges could be read quickly.

The power and heated front seats were very supportive in all directions. Climate control buttons were small, but the car had easily used touchscreen radio operation. Sun visor vanity mirrors have sliding covers and are lit by lights in the roof.

There’s a decent amount of interior storage, which includes a pull-out bin to the left of the wheel to hold such things as coins for toll booths. The front console’s dual-cupholder placement is handy. Driver visibility is enhanced by nicely shaped power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators.

The opening for the large trunk is wide, but rather high. Its lid goes up on covered manual hinges that won’t damage luggage. Rear seatbacks easily flip forward and sit flat to enlarge the cargo area through a good-sized trunk opening to the backseat.

The hood raises via a single strut to reveal a tight engine compartment. Most fluid filler areas are easily reached. But one at the back of the engine is difficult to reach, and I wouldn’t want to get to it when the engine is hot.

The CC looks costlier, inside and out, than it is. And it has the engineering and performance to back up its slick appearance.

Pros: Stylish. Upscale interior. Fast. Good roadability. Extra rear seat position added. Available all-wheel drive. Sporty R-Line model.

Cons: No sunroof or back-up camera on lower-line models. The V-6 model seems costly and superfluous.

Bottom Line: Good alternative to pricier sporty German sedans.

Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist for more than 40 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.

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