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The 2012 Volkswagen CC is essentially the alter ego of the VW Passat; while they're both sedans, the CC takes a path that's more daring in design and packaging—albeit at the expense of some practicality. To many, that's just fine, and the CC can be misjudged as a more expensive, more premium car that it is.
Design-wise, the CC takes after the Mercedes-Benz CLS with its stunning, coupe-like silhouette, frameless windows, and long, flowing design—plus a rear deck that tucks down instead of rising upward. The interior is a little different in layout than most sedans—it's a four-passenger sedan, with two individual seats in back, and the dash and doors are a little more lavishly trimmed than the typical mid-size sedan, with details like contrast stitching, contrast-color themes for the upholstery. New for 2012, CC models get a new analog clock above the radio.
The look implies that the 2012 CC is sportier than the Passat, though that's not altogether true. Straight-line acceleration is good from the 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four that's offered on most of the lineup; it's exceptionally smooth, and makes its peak torque of 207 pound-feet without revving high. What's more, it pairs really well with VW's excellent DSG automatic (the manual is also a good choice). A top VR6 4Motion Executive model steps up to a 3.6-liter VR6 engine and 4Motion all-wheel-drive guise, but altogether this combination gives the CC a noticeably heavier, but not altogether much quicker, personality—so we much prefer the four. Across the lineup, the CC handles well, but with its overly light steering and rather soft suspension calibration, it's clear that comfort is the priority over all-out performance.Four-cylinder models—in addition to being relatively responsive and fuel-efficient—ride quite well, and across the model line the lavish interior trims feel luxury-car caliber. VW seems to have done well with the CC's frameless-window design, as the cabin feels tight and serene, with little road or wind noise.
Depending on what you're seeking in a sedan, the CC's odd but stylish seating arrangement could be a deal-breaker, or it could leave you more intrigued. The somewhat cramped backseat is only designed for two, and with limited headroom it's abundantly clear that the 2012 Volkswagen CC is a vehicle that was designed for form over function. In front, the seat position is simply a bit odd, with a scooped-up feeling that can also make headroom quite limited. Occupant safety looks strong for the CC, though, with IIHS Top Safety Pick status.
Six different trims of the CC are offered for 2012, including a sporty 2.0 R Line model that adds thin-spoke Mallory alloys, lower-body skirts, darkened taillights, and reflector-lens fog lights. All the models come very well equipped, with the base Sport including heated power front seats, a touch-screen sound system with HD Radio, Bluetooth hands-free, iPod connectivity, and 17-inch alloy wheels. For 2012, Lux Plus, Lux Limited, and 4Motion Executive models get new walnut inserts. An excellent Dynaudio sound system remains offered only on the top Executive VR6.