Quick Drive: 2010 Volkswagen CC Sport

Reviews I By Winding Road Staff I May 12, 2010

I hadn’t driven the CC Sport for very long before I started thinking that perhaps the “V” in VW should stand for value. This bold, beautiful, broad-shouldered sports sedan strikes me as being a huge amount of car for the money, with a sticker price that neatly slips under the $30k mark ($29,600 to be exact, including destination charges and the cost of the all-important DSG transmission).

What’s to like about the CC? For starters, it looks terrific inside and out, with styling that manages—in an ever-so-Germanic way—to look swoopy and purposeful at the same time. The roomy interior is one of my favorites among modern sport sedans, with clean, uncluttered lines, very high-quality materials throughout, and a remarkable ability to supply everything you need and—importantly—nothing you don’t.  As I have observed before, VW’s V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces are wonderful, in that they really could pass for fine leather, yet are far more durable.

I have only two minor gripes with the CC’s interior. First, the car’s sloping rear roofline makes back seat headroom marginal for anyone over six feet tall. Second, the CC is configured purely as a four-seater, with a fixed console/armrest system separating the bucket-like rear seats. Given the CC’s ample width, it seems a shame not to offer a five-passenger option. But, almost as if by way of compensation, the CC’s trunk is immense. This is the sort of car that could happily take four grown-ups and all of the stuff they might wish to bring along for long, pleasurable road trips.

The CC drivetrain consists of VW’s familiar 200-horsepower 2.0T turbo engine coupled with the terrific, optional six-speed DSG gearbox. Trust us on this one: DSG option is essential, as it really makes this car come alive. I wondered at first if the 2.0T/DSG combo might be overmatched in a car of the CC’s size, but my worries were unfounded. Subjectively, the smooth, quick-shifting DSG transmission seems to multiply the 2.0T engine’s available torque and power, making the CC feel quicker and more responsive than some sedans that—on paper—are more powerful, yet are encumbered with conventional automatics. I found the CC’s acceleration perfectly satisfying (though not blistering in an absolute sense), and noted that the car settled into an especially pleasant “happy place” when cruising between 70 and 80 mph.

The CC’s suspension is firm, but not truly sport sedan stiff (as in, say, an AMG Benz), though it strikes me as a brilliant compromise given the CC’s multi-mission profile.  On one hand, the CC has firm enough springing, damping, and roll stiffness to be an entertaining back road ride. Yet the suspension also has enough compliance (plus a welcome touch of plushness) that lets the CC serve as a believable luxury sedan. Steering is light (some might say a little too light), but direct and accurate, making this a precise yet serene drive for highway cruising.  Put all these characteristics together and you’ve got a sub-$30k German sedan that should make competitors priced in the high $30k and low $40k range very, very nervous.  

—Chris Martens

The Volkswagen CC is one of those cars that you find yourself enjoying even though it doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of either a driver’s car or a luxury car. I think a lot of that can be credited to the drivetrain. We’ve enjoyed the 2.0T in many cars, of course, but it feels different here. And we’ve enjoyed the VW/Audi DSG transmission as well, but in this application its strengths work and its drawbacks are minor.

To make sense of this, consider that the CC is tuned as you might imagine a German luxury sedan would be. The dampers and especially the springs are slightly on the soft side, but not too much. And there is pretty decent roll control. The CC isn’t as firm as a BMW or Mercedes, and definitely not as firm as an Audi, but it isn’t flabby either. All of that adds up to a car that you will clearly feel is suitable for those of refined taste and delicate sensibilities. It is also a car you won’t think about taking to a track day, though it isn’t bad to whip around corners in.

With that in mind, the 2.0T powerplant stands out. Most lux-ish cars with less than a V-8 on board simply don’t have much going on when you step on the right pedal. Happily, the 2.0T has a traditional turbo torque curve, so you get a lovely shove in the back as the turbo spins up. Don’t misunderstand, this is not GT-R- or Evo-type shoving, but the CC feels energetic in a way that many V-6-powered sedans don’t.

That lively approach really works here thanks to details. A big one is that the CC has enough sound deadening to mute a heavy metal concert. Normally at this point I’d descry the soulless titans who foist off colorless products on us in an attempt to deny all human emotion and turn us into robots. But, actually, making the 2.0T whisper quiet and electric-motor smooth really suits the luxury remit of the CC.

This Super-Anechoic Quiet Pak™ also allows VW’s very European sense of shift programming to work without annoyance. VW’s instantiation of DSG normally has a “D” mode that shifts for economy and regularly leaves you in the lower canyons of the torque curve where acceleration runs are measured in minutes, not seconds. And then VW gives us a “S” mode in which shifts occur close to redline and the car cruises above the jump in torque that accompanies fully spun-up turbocharger impellers. That programming is present and accounted for here. But thanks to the quietness of the CC, you can use “S” mode without really disturbing the wife or interrupting conversation with that crucial client.

The rest of the car is also rather nice, though I leave this to you to decide for yourself. Interior room is quite good. The seats are reasonably comfortable, and the leatherette seems adequate. I will simply add that overall the CC seems both sexier and more substantial than the normal $30k fare. Just be sure to get a light or medium color to show off the right curves.

A final question might be whether you should step up to an Audi A4? You’ll probably pay at least $5000 more if you want DSG. For that extra money you’ll get a firmer, sportier ride and handling package long with a punchier engine. You’ll also get Quattro AWD. And your car will look more like a normal sedan, albeit an Audi. Alternatively, you could spend only $3K more and get an A4 with a manual gearbox and FWD. For enthusiastic drivers, that’s the ticket. Just stay away from the options list.

—Tom Martin

. Sense of quality and (conservative) flair
. The thrill of torque
. The quietness you deserve

. Tuned for ride more than handling
. Three friends maximum, and only one very tall one
. Shifter lacks “Goldilocks” mode between tepid “D” and boy-racer “S”

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