While the CC might look like a serious sport sedan--or one with serious luxury credentials--it doesn't quite deliver to that impression. On the other hand what it does deliver, performance-wise, is better than what you might expect considering the 2013 CC's $31k base price: It essentially drives just much like the Passat in its more luxurious guises, with refinement clearly taking the priority over edginess or all-out performance.
Our favorites of the CC lineup remain those with the base turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (2.0T), which feel lighter and more nimble than their top-of-the-line VR6 and 4Motion counterparts, while feeling about as quick in most driving situations. With direct injection and turbocharging, the four makes 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque, the four churns out plenty of low- and mid-rev torque with only a slight delay if revs are at the low end. It's standard on Sport, Sport Plus, and Lux models.
A DSG dual clutch automatic is available on all those models, while a six-speed manual is standard on the Sport. Of those two, we'd actually go with the DSG automatic, as thanks to its clap-quick shifts the turbo four stays nicely on its boost and two fit very well together.
As for how the CC handles, the best way to put it is that if you expect the obsessively tweaked and tuned chassis of a German sport sedan, you're likely to be a little bit disappointed; on the other hand, if you're comparing the CC to mass-market,comfort-oriented mid-size sedans, the CC stands out as quite athletic and graceful. There's plenty of body lean near the limit, but the CC doesn't at all feel out of its element on a curvy road, and the steering loads and unloads nicely. The steering feel itself is a little too light for our tastes in ordinary, around-town driving, although there's just enough weighting on center to give it a relaxed demeanor on the highway. Brakes remain strong and capable—and easier to modulate in our 2013 test car than in previous years tested.If you're willing to pay many thousands more, you can upgrade to 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 (not the DSG), but upshifts can be lumpy and downshifts hesitant. Get it with 4Motion all-wheel drive and it really doesn't feel any perkier than the four.