Not quite ready to park a full-on family sedan in the driveway, yet need a rear seat that can handle the day-to-day demands of shuttling kids & co? The 2015 Volkswagen CC continues to offer a style-focused alternative to the standard four-door answer to the commuting question. Based on the surprisingly roomy Passat, the VW CC shrinks down some of the practicality of its mid-size platform-mate but in the process introduces a level of elegance missing from the more traditional German sedan.
Four-Door Coupe, If You Squint
The four-door 'coupe' marketing trend shows no signs of going away, what with European designers enamoured with sloping the roof of almost anything that moves: compacts, sedans, and even SUVs. The 2015 Volkswagen CC does it better than most, for a couple of reasons.
The first is, of course, the dashing profile of the CC, which succeeds in making its Passat underpinnings look sexy, even adding a little muscle towards the rear quarters. Just as important is the attention that has been paid to the CC's cabin: while the slit-like rear windows might create the impression that you'll have to fold yourself like an origami stroganoff to access the rear of the vehicle, the Volkswagen's second set of doors are less of a mail slot than you would think. I was able to get in and out of the CC without a problem, regardless of what position I was sitting in, but I could see six footers having more of an issue than I did.
Once ensconced inside the 2015 Volkswagen CC, you'll discover a mix of semi-luxury surroundings and decidedly dated technology. Front and rear both offer decent leg and shoulder room (although you won't want to try to seat three across the back bench), and the model I drove's two-tone leather seats were textured and ribbed to the point where I thought I might have been teleported into the cabin of a car costing twice as much. All is not perfect with the CC's front perches - I found their positioning to be unusually high - but combined with the soft-touch door panels and centre console, I was impressed with the overall quality of the passenger compartment.
If only the rest of the CC's switchgear had kept pace with the car's fashion-forward attitude. The VW's infotainment system is two steps behind more modern efforts such as the unit found in the more affordable Volkswagen Golf (or really, almost any other sedan in the CC's class), and the presence of both a slot in the dash for the key fob and an engine start/stop button on the centre console offered two methods for firing up the VW. This makes the CC perhaps the only car I've ever driven with such a distinct belt-and-suspenders approach to its ignition system.
A Bit Stiff-Legged
Under the hood of the Volkswagen CC you have a choice between the brand's ubiquitous 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder mill, or 3.6-litre V-6 in the top-of-the-line all-wheel drive model. The version of the CC that I drove featured the four-cylinder, and I was happy to discover that its 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque were more than up to the task of keeping up with the traffic around me. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission was also outfitted to my tester (a six-speed manual is also available on certain models), and while I was less enamoured of the DSG unit's familiar lag off of the line, it made for smooth shifts at all other speeds.
Volkswagen has marketed the CC as offering a 'sporty' ride, which unfortunately translates into a bit of a bumpy experience when driving down some of Montreal's less-than-well-maintained road surfaces. The upshot is fairly connected handling given the size of the car, which may or may not balance out the less-polished aspects of the CC's suspension package, depending on your perspective.
Not Much Else Like It, But Mind The Price
Would the 2015 Volkswagen CC benefit from a refresh of its suite of infotainment and driver technologies? Definitely. That being said, as a package there's very little else like it on the market, especially at its $36,375 base price. The smaller Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class mimics the CC's four-door 'coupe' styling but doesn't offer nearly the comfort or interior room of the Volkswagen, and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe - while dimensionally closer - starts at nearly $10k more.
The CC's blend of fashion and functionality has a good thing going as the only game in town, especially if you need a Passat but don't want to look at a Passat every morning on your drive to work. There's one final caveat, however, that's impossible not to mention, and that's the enormous gap in price between the two cars. If you can stomach the near-$13,000 difference in entry-level models (with the CC delivering a nicer interior and stronger base motor, natch), and stay away from the aspirational $50,000 Execline CC, then the economics just might work out in your favour.