- Eye-catching exterior
- Exquisite interior style and details
- Frameless windows coordinated brilliantly with door closing
- Harsh ride with larger wheel options
- Zero steering feel
- Touchy brakes
The 2009 Volkswagen CC is not the safest, most practical, or sportiest sedan in its segment, but its interior and exterior styling are matched only by vehicles costing significantly more.
The 2009 Volkswagen CC marks the People's Car Company's second attempt at the luxury sedan market. VW learned plenty of lessons—the hard way—with its stratosphericallypriced Phaeton, which never saw much in the way of sales. This time, the company looks within it own stable for a front-drive sedan upon which to build a sybaritic—and quite stunning—four-door coupe along the lines of Mercedes' CLS.
Whether or not you take offense to anything with four doors calling itself a coupe, VW has successfully produced a very elegant overall design, with the exception of rather long overhangs (especially in the front). The interior is especially stunning, with typical VW attention detail taken to new heights and options such as contrasting color leather seats with exquisite stitching.
The excellent VW/Audi 2.0T four-cylinder engine, making 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, is the base for the 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC. The base Sport comes standard with a six-speed manual; a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder acts like a six, with copious torque and a generally relaxed demeanor, nearly matching the uplevel V-6's acceleration and ringing in at 31 mpg on the highway. It's a shame VW chooses not to pair this engine with its excellent DSG twin-clutch automatic, as the traditional automatic transmission suffers from sluggish responses and odd surging. The 3.6-liter variant of VW's narrow-angle V-6 (VR6) is optional, but we recommend against it due to its somewhat gruff and vocal nature, less accessible torque curve, and higher fuel consumption. As well, it is available only with the fussy six-speed automatic. Outright power (280 hp, 265 lb-ft torque) in the V-6 is impressive, but accessing that thrust—through the uncooperative automatic transmission—requires dedication that few owners will likely possess.
The ride in the 2009 Passat CC is generally smooth, but uplevel wheels and tires tax the front-wheel-drive chassis and result in road noise and sharp kicks transmitted to the cabin on less than ideal roads. Handling is capable but unremarkable; the power steering is feather light and lacks any sense of road feel. The CC's brakes surpass strong and land right at touchy, an annoying trait that complicates modulation and smooth stops.
Every inch of this interior feels far more expensive than the base versions' MSRPs (of well under $30,000) suggest. To be sure, the CC is about style, not so much function, and as such the middle rear seat is eschewed for a comfy armrest and built-in cup holders. We find this touch perfectly appropriate for its target market. But the low seating position and poor view out the rear might trouble some drivers. Visibility is nearly as poor as that of some low-slung sportscars; the steeply raked windshield and backlight provide a rather narrow slit through which to view the world. Even taller testers raised the front seats more than usual to avoid feeling like they were sitting on the tarmac.
The Technology Package optional on three of the four models contains a nav system with a hard drive—and more importantly, a rearview camera artfully integrated into the rear VW logo. The camera should be standard, as backing up without it is a nearly blind affair. Another odd form-over-function nod is the admittedly huge Panoramic power vent sunroof, which is standard on three of four models but contains only a vent function as opposed to the full open-air experience. As well, the sunroof's shade is made of a mesh material that allows some solar radiation to pass through even when closed.
The Passat CC—even the base Sport model—comes very well-equipped. It includes single-zone automatic climate control, an alarm system, heated leatherette power seats, and an eight-speaker premium sound system with CD changer. Top VR6 4Motion models, priced more than $12,000 higher, include dual-zone climate control, the Panorama sunroof, a rear sunshade, bi-xenon headlamps, a parking aid, heated mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers, along with the upgraded wheels. Bluetooth remains optional, even at the top of the line.
Overall, the Volkswagen CC scores acceptably but not especially well in NHTSA's crash-testing regimen. It's rated four of five stars in the frontal driver, frontal passenger, and side rear passenger categories. It manages five stars for its side driver crash protection. The IIHS has not yet tested the Volkswagen CC, though the 2009 Passat sedan, upon which the CC is loosely based, scores that agency's top "good" rating and, as such, is named an IIHS Top Safety Pick.