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Volkswagen CC a refreshed premium 2013 sport sedan
NICE, FRANCE— Volkswagen’s sporty CC, a four-door sedan with the stylish look of a coupe, has undergone an extensive refresh for 2013 with a new-look at the front and rear.
Thankfully, though, the CC’s side silhouette remains largely unchanged since it was introduced in 2009 and called the Passat CC, leaving the sexy sports sedan to mimic the swoopy, modern look of the Mercedes CLS at a much lower price.
Set for a May launch in Canada, pricing for the new CC will be announced at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto in February.
But unlike the new Passat and Jetta models that have moved down market somewhat to appeal to a broader range of North American buyers, the CC is instead moving upwards to challenge premium brands like Lexus and BMW.
Clearly the CC is designed to be the styling leader for the brand, which has enjoyed a banner year in Canada and around the world.
“This (the CC) is the European sports sedan in our lineup in Canada. We wanted this car to appeal to the European sports sedan aficionados,” said Thomas Tetzlaff, Volkswagen Canada’s manager of public relations.
Volkswagen Canada set an all-time record in 2011 with sales of 52,604 units, up 15.9 per cent over the previous year. Jetta, Golf, Tiguan and Touareg models make up 90 per cent of VW Canada sales, but niche products like the CC help to add to the sales numbers and bring customers into the dealerships.
A fairly extensive list of content will be added as standard fare on the CC this time around. The most significant change will be the seating configuration.
The CC coming to Canada now seats five instead of four with the rear seat now a 60/40 split folding bench instead of the twin buckets of the outgoing model.
But that’s not a bad thing because rear seat room is generous and the seats comfortable, making the CC a more versatile performer than before.
The CC’s face has had a makeover for 2013 with Volkswagen’s distinctive design DNA evident in the front grille comprised of horizontal chrome bars with the VW logo front and centre.
The rectangular bi-xenon headlights round off as they meld into the fenders, while the lower front fascia is also revised for 2013, again with horizontal styling cues and fog lamps. At the rear is a cool-looking new taillight system employing LED technology.
Two familiar engine choices are offered in the new model, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, producing 200 hp and 207 lb/ft of torque through the rev range of 1700 to 5000 rpm. Standard with this is a six-speed manual transmission, with a six-speed automatic direct shift gearbox (DSG) with Tiptronic optional.
Also available is a 280 hp, 3.6-litre V6 engine with 4MOTION all-wheel drive. This comes only with the six-speed automatic with Tiptronic.
Tweaks to both engines promise improved fuel economy, but Transport Canada ratings have yet to be announced so I can’t yet verify that claim from the manufacturer.
My driving partner and I got to sample both powerplants during a ride and drive along the narrow, winding roads in and around the coastal city of Nice in the south of France.
While we wouldn’t consider the CC a big car by North American standards, on these roads it is and you have to be extra alert if you’re driving anything larger than a compact car because the lanes in many places are very narrow, particularly when a bus or truck passes to the side.
Some switchbacks are so tight you almost have to do a three-point turn to get around them, crossing your fingers and hoping at the same time that an approaching vehicle doesn’t cut the corner too closely and clip your front end.
Thankfully, the CC is nimble and easy to maneuver, but its real strength is as a highway cruiser.
I’ve taken the previous model on a couple of long-distance road trips and the car is an absolute delight to drive. I’d expect the same of the new one, which is unchanged in its dimensions and basic shape.
The CC seems to carve through the air with ease, thanks in part of its excellent aerodynamics and 0.28 coefficient of drag.
Inside, the cabin is decidedly upscale with high-quality, soft touch materials that match the best in the business from Audi and Volvo.
Standard on the CC is dual-zone electronic climate control along with Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity. Heated front seats and a 12-way power driver’s seat are also standard across the trim lines.
The base model is the 2.0L TSI Sportline, which comes with 17-inch alloys, eight-speaker premium audio system, rearview camera (another new standard feature for 2013) and bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS).
The 2.0L Highline adds 18-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, leather upholstery, and driver’s seat and exterior mirror memory.
The 3.6L Highline comes with Volkswagen’s tried and true 4Motion all-wheel drive system with adaptive torque distribution. Rear power sunshade, Dynaudio premium sound system, navigation system and Sirius satellite radio are other standard features on this model.
On the safety front, six airbags are standard along with electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system, tire pressure monitoring system, hill hold assist (for manual transmission) and a crash response system that cuts fuel supply and electronics, disconnects battery terminals, turns on the hazard lights and unlocks the doors.
The CC is a niche vehicle for Volkswagen, which hopes to sell 1,500 to 1,600 units in Canada this model year. Competition comes from the BMW 323i, Honda Accord Coupe, Acura TSX, Lexus IS, Altima Coupe and Hyundai Sonata.
The 2013 CC goes on sale in May.
Volkswagen CC 2013
Body Style: four-door sport sedan.
Drive Method: front- or 4Motion all-wheel drive.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder (200 hp, 207 lb/ft of torque with a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic transmission; 3.6-litre 24-valve, direct injection VR6 (280 hp, 265 lb/ft of torque) with 4Motion all-wheel drive and six-speed automatic transmission.
Cargo Capacity: 402 litres (14.2 cu ft.).
Fuel Economy: N/A
Lorne Drury is an automotive writer for Carguide Magazine.