We favor the CC's base engine, a 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (2.0T). Models equipped with it are lighter and feel it, with better dynamic responses than their top-of-the-line VR6 4Motion counterpart. Even in spirited driving, the four develops plenty of low- and mid-range torque with only a slight delay in turbo boost just off idle, while the narrow-angle six-cylinder is more powerful but seems to take a moment more to build steam.
With the help of direct injection and turbocharging, the four makes 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. The small, responsive turbo makes it feel like a larger engine, and the optional DSG dual-clutch automatic helps make the most of engine output with clap-quick shifts. The DSG has a manual shift function as well as a sport mode for quicker reactions at the expense of some smoothness. A six-speed manual is standard on the CC Sport for those who prefer a third pedal.
The CC's handling straddles the line between a true German sport sedan and a mid-size family four-door. It strikes a good balance between comfort and poise, much like the Volkswagen Golf does. 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 electric-assist steering loads and unloads nicely. The steering can at times feel 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 are strong and capable.
The top-of-the-line VR6 4Motion model requires a different value calculation entirely. For thousands more than a 2.0-liter CC, the car gets a narrow-angle V-6 that displaces 3.6 liters and produces 280 horsepower and includes VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. The combination brings improved wet-weather but also adds weight and dulls the response of the engine, making it perform very similarly to a four-cylinder model on dry pavement. The VR6 model also requires more fuel to do its job. It has a different character, too—rather gruff and vocal, and needing to be revved to extract its torque. The engine functions pretty well with its traditional six-speed automatic, but upshifts are often poorly timed and downshifts can take a moment.