There's only one way to get the CC, in our opinion: with the 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (2.0T). Models with it feel lighter and more nimble than their top-of-the-line VR6 4Motion counterparts. The four churns out plenty of low- and mid-rev torque with only a slight delay if revs are at the low end, while the narrow-angle VR6 is spirited but seems to take a moment more to build steam.
Parsing it out by price, the even the base $31,795 CC essentially drives just much like the Passat in one of its more luxurious guises--with refinement clearly taking the priority over edginess or all-out performance.
With direct injection and turbocharging, the four makes 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. There's only the slightest delay in response at low revs; it really feels like a larger engine, and the DSG dual-clutch automatic helps make the most of it with clap-quick shifts. A six-speed manual is standard on the Sport, though, if that's the way you like it.
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.The VR6 requires a different value calculation entirely. If you're willing to pay many thousands more, you can upgrade this model and its narrow-angle V-6 engine that in this application displaces 3.6 liters and makes 280 horsepower. With its included 4Motion all-wheel drive, you might get a little more all-weather traction but it doesn't feel much if any perkier than the four. It has a different character entirely, too—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.