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2012 Volkswagen CC Performance

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On Performance

Sporty looks give the CC a distinctive look that distances it from the closely related Passat, but the driving experience is pretty similar. The crisp handling German cars are noted for is muted here in favor of comfort, though all CCs are quick enough.

The base turbocharged 2.0-liter four is, as always, a gem. VW's perfected this powerplant with direct injection, and the latest version pushes out 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It's standard on Sport and Lux models; the former comes with a manual six-speed transmission and VW's usual notchy shift feel, while a DSG dual-clutch automatic--one of our favorite transmissions from the VW Group--is an option on the four-cylinders.

Handling is comfortable and compliant; we'd take the turbo four over the V-6 for its lighter take on torque.
The upgrade comes in the form of VW's "VR6," a narrow-angle V-6 engine that in this application displaces 3.6 liters and makes 280 horsepower. It has a different character entirely—rather gruff and vocal, and needing to be revved to extract its torque. The engine functions pretty well with its six-speed automatic, but upshifts can be lumpy and downshifts hesitant. Overall, because the four makes its torque down low and the six needs to be revved, the four is actually the more drivable of the two—and the VR6 in its mandatory 4Motion guise doesn't seem any perkier (while using a lot more fuel, at just 17 mpg city).

The VW CC handles well, but overall it's unremarkable due to overboosted, feather-light steering that lacks any sense of road feel; we also feel that the four-cylinder model handles a bit better, though. The ride in the CC is generally smooth, but it's better on the lower trims; the upgraded wheels and tires tax the chassis and result in road noise and sharp kicks transmitted to the cabin on less than ideal roads. Brakes are also a disappointment—they're too touchy and tough to modulate, though they are strong and capable.

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