Published September 22. 2012 4:00AM
The Volkswagen CC is a sporty, upscale version of the Passat sedan. This car was originally introduced for 2009 as a four-passenger, coupe-style sedan, combining sedan comfort with sports-car dynamics. For the 2013 makeover, the rear gets a bench seat, giving the car a capacity of five people.
With the redesign, the CC is wider, longer and lower, with a long hood and short trunk, a rear-swept roofline and a strong shoulder line. Volkswagen calls the CC "a mid-size sports sedan with shocking good looks."
My 2013 CC Sport Plus turbo model was athletic and elegant, with 18-inch, split five-spoke alloy wheels, a bold chrome grille with signature VW badge, and a deep front air dam.
The Candy White exterior, with more prominent chrome trim around the rear bumper and across the lower door panels and chrome VW badge on the trunk, was quite electrifying.
Frameless side windows and the all-new front fascia are part of the extensive restyling, along with LED daytime running lights/taillights/license plate light.
Bi-xenon adaptive headlights that can turn up to 15 degrees to light around corners were included in the Sport Plus package.
The headlights come with "coming home" and "leaving home" functions, which keeps the lights on for a short time after you leave the car and turns the lights on when the doors are remotely unlocked.
As for the new rear bench seat, the outboard positions were very comfortable with plenty of legroom (37.3 inches) and headroom (36.6 inches), despite the lower roofline. The front seats and rear outboard seats in my tester were sport style, in black leatherette with side bolstering, top stitching and "tucking" on the seat and back inserts.
The middle rear seat is harder, narrower and higher than the outboard seats, with a "hump" in the floor. I tried it out for a few minutes, and decided I wouldn't want to ride there on a long road trip. But it is suitable for a child safety seat.
All seating positions have headrests and three-point seatbelts. The front headrests are adjustable from front to back for maximum comfort and protection, new for 2013. There are also child-safe rear door locks.
Volkswagen added two new trims to CC for 2013: the 2.0T Sport Plus (the model I tested) and the VR6 Lux, bringing the total to six available trims.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine produced 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque, and was quick out of the gate and responsive on the highway. I don't have a lead foot, but it was easy to lose myself in the smooth, quiet ride and exceed the posted speed limit - cruise control to the rescue!
A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission was included on my tester; front-wheel drive was standard. A six-speed manual gearbox comes on the Sport model, but is not offered on the Sport Plus. Also on the Sport Plus are the 18-inch wheels with all season tires and a RNS 315 navigation system with touch screen.
The VR6 Lux, powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, adds a headlight washer system, rearview camera, an RNS 510 navigation system with 6.5-inch touch screen; memory settings for the leather seats, as well as for mirrors; and engineered ebony trim.
Navigation on my vehicle felt outdated - it didn't recognize newer roads, even those two or three years old - and had fewer features and less than intuitive programming than I'm used to seeing. The audio directions were not precise and didn't give much advance notice for turns. I was not able to preview the route on the screen or zoom out to get the "big picture."
My tester had electronic stability control; anti-slip regulation, which uses anti-lock brake sensors to help overcome loss of traction; electronic differential lock; electro-mechanical power steering with speed-variable assist; and multi-link fully independent sport rear suspension.
The CC comes with all the standard air bags we are accustomed to, as well as side-curtain protection, front and rear. Standard equipment also includes tire-pressure monitoring and an anti-theft alarm with engine immobilizer.
My tester, with an 18.5-gallon gas tank, was rated for 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. Driving mostly on the highway, sometimes in stop and go traffic, I averaged 27.3 mpg.