2013 Volkswagen CC

Modern, affordable four-door coupe is an effective contradiction in terms

The 2013 Volkswagen CC "four-door coupe" may seem a bit of an automotive oxymoron. Most of us know a coupe to be a two-door vehicle that is quite sleek, even sexy. But four doors on a coupe design are not what we're used to seeing.

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Coupe-Sedan Styling

Thank goodness VW continues to have the bravery to design and build the CC. This is a useable vehicle that can get the senses excited at a mere glance. The CC is a full-sized coupe/sedan, which illustrates that VW designers do have the vision and ability to strive beyond the more mundane styling shown in the redesigned Jetta and Passat. Simply remove the VW badges and the CC can run with the big dogs.

You could head for the Mercedes-Benz or Audi dealer and slide behind the wheel of either the CLS or A7 and you may not be able to quickly tell us you're not in the Volkswagen CC. Certainly with the VW, you would not be spending the money either of these more expensive models would set you back. In fact, even the top-of-the-line CC would not cost close to the entry price of either the Audi A7 or Mercedes-Benz CLS. That CLS will set you back more than $70,000 and the family acquaintance A7 starts out at sixty grand. By these standards the CC is downright cheap.

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Upscale Bargain

Yet you won't feel as though you went the cheap route at all. In fact, we believe the 2013 Volkswagen CC is one heck of a bargain with the features, ride and luxury you get for your hard earned sawbuck. Base price begins at $30,610, while a fully loaded Executive version with VR6, 6-cylinder engine and 4Motion all-wheel drive will barely reach over the $40K mark.

As long as you can get over the fact you're driving a Volkswagen, rather than one of those (perceived) more prestigious marques, you'll have a whole lot of fun driving past your bank knowing you spent less of your hard-earned money on a very on-par car.

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Driving Experience, Design Updates

While that satisfaction is a wonderful feeling, it's the driving experience we most love about this VW. Even with the subtle design changes to the front and rear, we still believe the 2013 Volkswagen CC is one of the hottest models in the Volkswagen lineup-and in its class. The CC emanates elegance and style.

When Volkswagen first reported it was going to rework the CC exterior, we worried what they might do. With the softening of the Jetta and Passat, we dreaded to think VW would tone down the CC in a similar way. Thankfully, head of VW design Klaus Bischoff and his team left well enough alone. The 2013 Volkswagen CC retains most of its exciting design and classic appearance. A new form to the front bumper and grille is anchored by redesigned Bi-Xenon headlights, highlighted by LED Daytime Running Lights. Fortunately, the classic character of CC remains.

According to Volkswagen, the rear bumper was given more volume. This is a way of saying it's now larger. Again, we're thankful this change is subtle and takes nothing away from the classic form, which makes the CC such a stylish addition to this category.

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Engines and Transmissions

We were quite happy to spend most of our drive time in the 200-horsepower 2.0T 4-cylinder turbocharged version. Granted, the 280-hp, 6-cylinder VR6 is smoother and perhaps even more elegant; however the Volkswagen CC 2.0T feels lighter on its tires and more responsive to our whims. Each version felt safe and secure on the highways and freeways, but the 2.0T felt as though it danced through the tight turns of mountain roads with greater finesse. Unfortunately, only the VR6 is available with 4Motion all-wheel drive. It would be good to see this capable system available across the CC model lineup.

Two transmissions, a 6-speed manual gearbox or DSG (dual-clutch) automatic, can be outfitted to the 2.0T engine. The VR6 receives exclusively a fully automatic 6-speed transmission with Tiptronic manual shift mode.

In the realm of transmissions we think the jury is still out on the dual-clutch systems. Even though the VW mechanicals are probably among the best available today, we sometimes felt the gear changes weren't as smooth as we prefer.

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Interior Amenities

The 2013 Volkswagen CC offers a wide range of interior features depending on the model and the equipment you select from the options list. Trying to get the equipment you like without adding things you do not can be a challenge. VW at least makes some options available separately for the most part. There remain some features available only if you move up one model level, meaning up in price as well.

The base CC Sport model is quite well equipped, outfitted with automatic climate control, power and heated front seats, touch-screen audio and the requisite Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. The standard VW V-Tex Leatherette seating surfaces are nice, but thankfully Volkswagen didn't skimp on the leather when it comes to the steering wheel. We've always told all manufacturers that a few dollars spent on a leather steering wheel, even on their most basic models, would go far in a buyer's appreciation for that vehicle. After all, what do your hands touch most often on your car besides the wheel?

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Affordable Luxury

If there's one drawback to the four-door coupe design it would be the compromised headroom caused by the sleek profile of the roof. The new three-across rear seat offers plenty of legroom, but has less headroom than a traditional sedan.

The flagship Executive VR6 4Motion adds so many accessories it's hard to include the entire list. Suffice to say with the upgraded sound system and all-wheel drive, you also add in massaging driver's seat, front and rear parking sensors, and power rear window sunshade.

From the base Sport model to the feature laden Executive, the 2013 Volkswagen CC is one of our favorite four-door automobiles. The exterior design is classic and elegant without pretense. No matter your choice of engines and transmission, the driving experience is exciting, comfortable and interactive. The CC is an automobile you would be as comfortable pulling up to the valet at the opera as you would joyously spiriting along your favorite country road. www.vw.com

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