By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/9/2011
Volkswagen has a well-established history of special bodywork affixed to its more volume-oriented platforms. In the U.S. the best known of those applications is Karmann, constructor of the Karmann Ghia coupe and convertible. Never, to be sure, quite a sports car, but more of a "sportster," the Ghia derivative was a staple 30-40 years ago in both suburban driveways and college campuses. The VW CC adapts the platform of the dearly departed Passat – the Euro-based Passat and not the newer design created for the U.S. – and cloaks it in stylish 4-door coupe bodywork. The result is a notable success, with a competent platform dressed for evening. It may not get you a front row at your favorite nightspot, but neither will you be parked with the Sonatas.
If you value high style but appreciate a relatively low level of angst in your automotive purchase, the 2012 VW CC may be right up your automotive alley. Especially in its base 2.0T form, the CC provides quite a bit of stylistic bang for your automotive (under $30K) buck. Volkswagen, to be sure, hasn't been the gold standard in automotive reliability, but service costs are typically a fraction of BMW, MB and Audi – at least once their respective warranties have expired.
If your needs for a 4-door sedan are based on real practicality and accommodation, the CC will come up short, in both rear-seat space (only two will fit) and flexibility. Thankfully, the rear seat does fold, but that added utility doesn't make up for a relatively small trunk opening. This is, in the end, a 4-door that can't mimic a minivan; it's a 4-door conveying the sporting ambience of a GT. And while its MSRP followed the previous Passat's rather closely, with the reduction in price of VW's newest large sedan, the CC's price gap has widened to the point you could acquire a pre-owned Golf with the difference.
Virtually all of the changes for the 2012 VW CC occur on the inside. Those variants blessed with wood interior trim (2.0T Lux Plus, Lux Limited and 3.6L VR6 4Motion Executive) receive inserts made from a sustainable variety of dark wood rather than the earlier walnut inserts, which apparently weren't sustainable by either the forests or accountants.
The 2012 Volkswagen CC's specification is geared specifically to driver involvement, and that's especially true at the lower end of the CC food chain. Combine VW's delightfully visceral 2.0-liter turbocharged four with either its standard 6-speed manual or available Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) and you have magic in the movement. The electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering proves direct, and the all-independent suspension elevates you over uneven pavement with an equilibrium you can only describe as Germanic. The CC's VR6 is more relaxed, but less rewarding and, notably, less efficient, with an EPA rating of 25 mpg highway versus the 2.0T's 31 mpg (manual and DSG).
Four Individual Bucket Seats
Even with an aggressive coupe profile and athletic stance, nothing conveys "coupe" quite as well as individual buckets in both the front and rear compartments. The combination may sacrifice utility, but you and your passengers will be enveloped in luxury while remaining fully connected to the driving experience. At around $30,000, it rarely gets much better.
Six-Speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG)
Small-displacement powerplants are typically no better than their transmissions, and any number of 4- and 6-cylinder engines from Europe have been rendered impotent by the slushboxes to which they're connected. VW's DSG is the most positive addition in Volkswagen's small-displacement arsenal, giving up nothing in performance or efficiency to its fully manual sibling. We like its immediacy, efficiency and entertainment factor, along with its convenient, automatic-like operation when you want it.
You may be initially drawn to the 2012 VW CC's artfully executed exterior; that's infatuation. True love, however, will be found in the CC's core, where four individual buckets provide support to four individual posteriors. And these buckets can be covered in either V-Tex (think vinyl) or Nappa leather, in both solid and (really hot) 2-tone color schemes. For the driver, gauges are surrounded by chrome trim in the lower trim levels, while the upper range enjoys either full brushed aluminum or the aforementioned dark – and sustainable – wood. Of course, a range of entertainment options are available, from an 8-speaker Premium VIII to the VR6 4Motion's Dynaudio, featuring 10 speakers and 600 watts!
Based on media descriptives, you'd think this 4-door "coupe" concept was relatively new. It actually dates back to before World War II, when automotive design became the province of both engineers and stylists, and it was found that a car's profile needn't be penalized by the addition of rear doors. Today its chief practitioners are Volkswagen's CC and Mercedes' CLS, but more are coming. And most will hope to emulate the CC's low-slung platform, steeply raked windshield, the longish, arcing roofline and abbreviated rear deck. The result is a shape as provocative as anything coming from a VW showroom in decades. And with a wide selection of wheel choices, even the base model enjoys an athletic stance and upscale (visual) demeanor.
Given its starting window sticker of under $30,000 (with destination), the 2012 VW CC 2.0T comes remarkably well equipped. Its foundation is provided by 17-inch alloy wheels, while inside, owners enjoy manual-controlled A/C; heated 12-way power front seats; a touch-screen sound system with HD radio, eight speakers, a 6-disc CD changer; and Bluetooth technology. Opt for the VR6 4Motion Executive, starting at around $41K, and you'll enjoy 3.6 liters of V6 power connected to VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD) and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Along with what's propelling you, the Executive transports you on 18-inch Interlagos rims, and moves you with Tiptronic paddle shifters, leather seating surfaces, VW's Dynaudio Premium sound and a power rear sunshade. In between 2.0T Sport and VR6 4Motion Executive are five additional variants of the 4-cylinder CC, allowing you to be as expressive as you and your budget would hope to be.
Most options for VW's CC are found in its various trim levels. Opt for the R Line (about $31K), the first level above the base Sport, and you enjoy 18-inch wheels, extended sport bumpers and side skirts, R Line doorsill plates, darkened taillights and halogen reflector-lens foglights. A more substantive move is the Lux (roughly $32K), which equips the 2.0T drivetrain with Volkswagen's excellent DSG automatic, dual-zone automatic climate control, brushed aluminum interior trim and navigation. Lux Plus at over $34K takes you further up the comfort scale with power sunroof, wood interior trim and upgraded navigation.
If your seasonal climate demands all-wheel drive (AWD), you'll find Volkswagen's VR6 and 4Motion a commendable, capable choice. However, for those preferring emotion to 4Motion, VW's 2.0T remains one of the most entertaining powerplants in the marketplace. Offering 200 horsepower (although the GTI community can show you how to spool it up...) and 207 lb-ft of torque, the 2.0T works well with either transmission, and affords the close-coupled CC with a responsive – albeit efficient – driving experience.
2.0-liter in-line 4, turbocharged
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 (manual), 19/29 (automatic)
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
265 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
Volkswagen value is best evident in the lower ranges of the CC menu, with the entry-level Sport available for under $30K, while the top-of-the-range in 2.0T variants remains at just $35,000. And to its credit, even the luxuriously equipped VR6 4Motion Executive remains in the low $40s, while a comparably equipped BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 can quickly jump into territory some $10,000 more expensive. Given the dramatic reduction of the new Passat's pricing in 2012, there may be fewer interested in the CC at its much higher relative cost. Prices consumers are actually paying may vary; check our New Car Blue Book Value price to see what others in your area have paid for their CCs. Projected resale values for the 2012 Volkswagen CC over four years are in line with the Lexus ES 350, while below that of the Hyundai Sonata and above (actually, well above) Suzuki's Kizashi.