2009 Volkswagen CC Ride Review (70/100)
When you tell a 21 year old to pick out any car he wants for under $20,000, the possibilities seem endless. I looked at Miatas, Minis, some RX-8s, and a fair share of Honda S2000s, but I also considered some choice Passat wagons and Volvos. A small part of me was looking for something practical and reliable, but the rest of me was looking for a fun car I could get my hands on for $20k.
I ended up with a VW CC. Despite the less-than-intimidating name (the very first day, my friends started calling it the “sissy”), I could not be happier with my decision. This car is more than just the sum of its parts, and is a well-built all-rounder.
(Full Disclosure –VW wanted me to drive the CC so bad they graciously sold me one a full three years after it rolled off the production line.)
The CC is essentially a B6 VW Passat with a bespoke body and four seats instead of five. That being said, the design team really put some effort into this car which was VW’s answer to the Merc CLS and the growing “four-door coupe” niche market.
The result is a well-proportioned and elegant four door sedan, and a more attractive, upmarket alternative to the Passat. (Especially now with the beigeification of the 2012 Passat, and used gen 1 CC’s dropping below 20 grand)
The CC is one of the best looking sedans on the road today, up there with company like the 2013 Fusion, the 2012 Sonata and Optima, and or course gen 1 and 2 of the CLS. That’s pretty high praise, and I’ll go one further by putting it second behind the original Merc CLS and calling it a budget CLS.
The inside of this car is superb. It's a great place to spend time whether you're in the front or the back. It’s actually one of the only cars I’ve been in where I don’t mind sitting in the back. Seriously, I voluntarily spent half of a 600 mile trip to North Carolina napping in the back, the seats are that comfortable.
Both front and back seats are well bolstered, with fully adjustable bucket seats in the front, and deeply recessed rear seats for the two passengers that fit back there. No it’s not an in convenience; you just have to decide who gets to come with you. And those seats, front and rear, are supportive enough to hold everyone in place during some aggressive driving through your favorite Smokey Mountain passes.
The steering wheel is nice and thick and offers a comfortable driving position; a good mix between comfort and sporty. Ergonomics are what you would expect from the VW group, and fit and finish is closer to Audi levels then a Golf or Jetta, so that’s a plus.
Acceleration is just above the average on the road. With 0-60 times of most sedans on the road hovering around the 7 second mark, the CC’s 6.7 sprint to 60 is plenty quick to keep pace away from the lights.
No complaints about the 2.0 liter turbo motor. Power delivery is smooth and responsive, and turbo lag is minimal below 2500rpm. The engine really has a Jekyll and Hyde character to it: responding quietly and almost wafting you along when under 3000rpm, and then behaving like a proper hooligan’s GTI when revs get above 3500.
Power is rated at 200hp and 207lb.-ft. of torque, but that number might be understated by Volkswagen when a stock A4 with the same motor is tested at 197hp at the wheels.
Brakes stop you adequately. Plenty of feel and when the ABS comes in, you feel it engage smoothly and controllably. Brake bite is close to the beginning of pedal travel, so for some that might take some getting used to.
All in all, the car stops, and its stops hard. There is no sponginess or pulsation from the pedal like in some Toyota products. After a hard drive on a particularly twisty bit of Tennessee mountain road, the brakes did not fade, or even smell particularly bad.
The ride is almost perfect. On a sub $20 grand car, that is remarkable. I prefer my cars to be on the stiffer side because I like to know that I am in a car on a road, not sitting on my couch watching the scenery go by. The CC’s ride manages to be sporty and compliant.
The chassis is stiff, but not anything that would leave you sore and irritable. I did a 650 mile drive in one sitting and had no aches and pains to report. One most road the suspension absorbs imperfections with ease. Most of the time the only time you know you hit a bump is when you hear it in the tires rather than feeling it in your back. This is good.
I said most because on certain road imperfections - tightly spaced joints for example, or raised sections where concrete and asphalt meet – the suspension falls in a resonance that can be felt throughout the cabin. I took a point off for that. The other point is for the lack of adjustable suspension available in the European models. That suspension is reported as being softer in the comfort setting and stiffer in the sport setting than US models.
Two points above average and mediocre – aka a 5 – seems fair for this chassis. The dampening is very good, offering quick and progressive compression and rebound. The anti-roll bars keep the whole body from floundering like a Yaris with a lift kit.
When pushed, understeer reminds you that this is a big four door sedan and not a track-readied GTI. However, if you drive it around 8/10ths on your favorite back road, it is quite rewarding.
Volkswagen will sell you a CC 2.0 Sport with either a six speed manual or a six speed DSG transmission. The higher level 3.6 V6 CC only comes equipped with the DSG. I would much rather have got the manual version, but when I was buying my CC the nearest example with a manual was over 400 miles away.
The DSG box works as well here as it does in any other VW group application. The dual clutch system in manual changes gears faster than you would be able to, and when in auto, feels seamless between gears. Sport mode eliminates 6th gear and tightens up the ratios. Launch control does not exist and your best bet for a good sprint is to pop it into manual mode and shift for yourself.
I am not an audiophile nor have I ever experienced Bang and Olufsen’s in car stereo systems, so I have no idea what criteria to use here. It plays music when you turn it on, and it sounds good. The sound quality is better than in a RAV-4, so I would call it above average.
I don’t needs toys personally, but compared to other new cars in this class, the CC is just above average. My model has Bluetooth and satellite radio, should I choose to pay and activate a subscription. There’s an AUX input in the center console so that’s good. The HVAC controls are manual and use a simple three knob setup - fewer things to break down the road.
At just over $18 grand that this car cost, it’s a great value. It costs less than a similarly equipped GTI from the same year, and on paper performance is almost the same. You get a practically Audi-level of interior quality, design, and fit-and-finish. The exterior looks like a less expensive CLS, and you get Golf- level reliability and cost of maintenance. Yeah, it’s pretty good value.