The last time we set out to photograph a sporty executive sedan next to equally sleek aircraft landing at an "undisclosed" Midwestern Aerodrome we were chastised that the license plate would be recorded for posterity. "Heck, buddy, this car belongs to the manufacturer's press fleet."
To avoid the harassment that aviation buffs must endure, we decided to play it safe with the update to the progenitor of front-drive "four-door" executive coupes. It turns out "Drive...He Said" got some nice shots (the image kind) of the "freshened for 2013" Volkswagen CC near landing paths and runways without raising the ire of officials.
Why a refresh of a such a bold design in such short a time (after the 2010 launch)? Several premium executive saloons have closed in on "four-door coupe" classification. The Buick Regal (especially in GS trim) and the Volvo S60 T5 are but two that come to mind. BMW and Audi, with their respective 6 Grand Coupe-series and A7 sedans, already moved ahead the mark for the Mercedes CLS. In the business of making and selling cars you don't wait for competitors to make the next move.
If we can sum up the transition to the 2013 CC Sport it would be that the "mild-mannered Clark Kent has exited the phone booth donned in cape and tights." Like a hung-over supermodel, this is one car where "photographs simply don't do it justice." What stands out is a more chiseled VW corporate front-chin. More substantial taillamps and a less subtle, but better integrated trunk-lid spoiler have filtered out some of the "cuteness."
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Being a mid-cycle update, the shared-in-just-about-everything-VW EA888 turbocharged TFSI 2.0-liter DOHC gas inline 4-cylinder is still the mill. A water-to-air intercooled IHI turbo makes 13 psi of boost. The net result: 200 horsepower. Over 90% of the 207 lb-feet of torque is available at a mere 1700 rpm. Spin is routed to the front wheels via a Direct Shift Gearbox with six (6) forward speeds, that can actually blip the throttle, barely.
Release the brake and there is a slight forward lurch as one clutch pack disengages first gear and another engages second. Step into the accelerator and power unfolds seamlessly without any discernible lag. Attaining 60 miles-per-hour in 7 seconds is withing the realm of probability. Such a pale engine idle and exhaust note belies its development by Audi. Direct injection delivered a healthy 25 miles-per-each gallon of unleaded fuel in combined driving conditions.
The CC offers up quite the linear steering response nearly a paradox from an electric assist rack in a front driver. Yet with nearly 60% of its 3300 lbs out front the CC feels nose heavy at the limits. Our last venture in a 2010 CC exhibited body sway and a tendency towards serious oversteer at the sporty sedan's cornering limits. Hell, you could feel the rear-end, indie suspension and all, lifting before a non-fully defeatable stability rose to the occasion. Damper compression of old could impart crashing over some pavement.
Not so much in the 2013 CC Sport. The front strut, rear multi-link suspension now is less prone to step out. Harsher impacts get past the chassis less often. This despite an unchanged tire/wheel combo of 235/45 Continental ContiPro Contact all-seasons on attractive 17" alloys. Four wheel disc brakes with brake force distribution impart more urgent initial grab. While the CC isn't quite ready to "wipe the rear" of Gingerman, it is a joy to control. Oops. Did we nearly borrow the silly term "Fahrvegnugen?"
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Are you the driver that loathes excessive complexity of operation? Do you favor Bauhaus simplicity over plushness catering to the safe transport of eggs? Then there is much to like inside the Volkswagen CC. Front seats are the porridge left by the Three Bears which Goldilocks found to be neither too hot, not too cold, but rather just about right. The rippled seat cushions act as a form of thigh support. Bolstering is adequate without pinching hips. Headrests slide forward. In this level of executive sedan we can live with the manual steering wheel adjustment for tilt and reach. The decadence of the two-tone black-on-beige finish will be cause enough to forgive the "feels-like the-real-thing" V-tex leatherette.
So who needs an abacus of a center stack when 18 good-size buttons will get the job done? The 6.5" touch media-tainment touch screen is our kind of easy-to-use even if it lacks fancy telematics. Hands-free voice commands actually understood our speak. Without repetitions. A glovebox with fine mouse-fur has this secret compartment for stashing your I-device. Oh well, we let that secret slip. While there is a presence of soft plastics atop the dash, stare closely and the door trim seems austere. The top notch level of panel fit permits us to give a pass on quibbles with "simulated" matte metallic inlays and austere plastics below the belt.
This year Volkswagen relented and has finally offered the U.S. spec CC with a middle rear seat position. If you want to call it that. At least it has a safety belt and LATCH provisions for child seats. The sloping roof limits headroom to a 36.5" scalp rubbing inches. If it's of any consolation one would have to "duck" getting into any other coupe. For perspective our EPA classifies the VW CC as a compact-size car. Just like the Golf hatchback. Guess which has the better rear seat accommodations. Alas, no Golf gets fine mouse fur and chrome cargo tie-down hardware in trunk. The split rear seat-back folds to expand upon 13 cubic feet of capacity.
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The 2013 Volkswagen CC now sits atop the brand's sedan heap on our shores. Greater contenting of the entry CC Sport trim makes it's $30,000 cost of admittance digestible. Our CC Sport tester lacked a moonroof, premium stereo, navigation, and leather and still stickered for $32,000. Yet it included LED DRLs, adaptive front bi-xenon lighting, and Climatronic control. If you must to have bragging rights there is a more potent / portly 280 hp VR6 4-Motion model available for $41 grand. We'll take our "four-door coupe" plenty light and plenty lively.
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Tags: 2013 Volkswagen CC Review, 2013 Volkswagen CC Sport Review, 2013 VW CC Review, Acura TSX Competitor, Audi A4 Competitor, BMW 3 series competitor, Buick Regal Competitor, Car Gallery, Car Review, CC Sport 2.0L, Direct, DSG Transmission, Four-door coupe, Infiniti G37 competitor, Nissan Maxima Competitor, Volvo S60 Competitor, VW CC Review