2009 Volkswagen CC: Couture on Wheels

December 29, 2009

Volkswagens are practical. Whether they're streamlined Beetles, boxy buses or hatchback Golfs, sensible shapes dominate.

So what happens when the people-car company tailors its mid-size sedan for the fashionista? You get the CC or Comfort Coupe--a four-door, chopped-top Passat with sculpted body panels. Frameless side windows enhance its sleek silhouette. A black panel behind the rear window accentuates its glass-back styling.

Besides the fetching contours, the CC's interior offers four bucket-type seats. Standard equipment includes alloy wheels; heated, power front seats; cornering lamps and many airbags.

VW sport tuned the CC's suspension. Its steering and chassis are lively, but mild bobbing and squealing Continental tires, limit this front-driver's prowess. Nonetheless, this is a swift, quiet, effortless, Dianne Reeves-graced, grand-touring machine.

The base 200-hp turbo four attaches to either a six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. My tester had the latter. Nicely placed pedals and slick shifter subtly tickle your inner Tazio Nuvolari, as does the muted engine's torque. Fuel economy: another bonus. It's rated 21 mpg city; 31 highway. My number: 28.6 overall, recommended daily allowance is premium.

Nits to pick: infinitesimal climate control dial graphics. In contrast, the steering wheels four-way, tiered, rocker switches let your fingers walk through menus. Radio knobs are superbly placed.

Seating for four, trim adults is supportive and comfortable. Headroom up front is adequate; its tight in back. Interior materials are Armani elegant with nicely padded armrests. Due to swooping interior lines, door pockets are skimpy.

Although J. D. Power says the CC has few glitches, inner door panel rattles marred an otherwise tranquil travel compartment. A minor mechanical note: a naughty grunt announces that you let out the clutch or overridden the programmable auto, auto-holding brakes.

The CC looks like a snazzy Mercedes CLS carbon copy. VW, however, asks $28,000. That's la dolce vita for less affluent folks.

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