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2012 Volkswagen CC: Four Doors…And Real Style

It’s almost become cliche.  How many automakers have tried to tell you that their four-door mid-size sedans are sleek, sporty, and stylish?  In the end, most of them are plain, boring, and eminently forgettable, at least in terms of looks.  That’s where the Volkswagen CC truly stands out.

Introduced for the 2009 model year, the CC aimed to do in the realm of reasonably priced sedans what the Mercedes-Benz CLS did for luxury sedans.  That is, offer a four-door car with the low roof and rakish proportions of a two-door sports coupe.  The Mercedes-Benz CLS shook up the luxury sedan status quo back in 2005, and Volkswagen aimed to do the same in the mid-size sedan segment.

There’s no doubt that this car is a looker.  It’s easily one of the prettiest four-door cars out there, looking much like it came straight from an auto designer’s sketchpad.  Its look is clean, elegant, and purposeful.  It looks expensive – far beyond its $28,515 base price.

But is this car all looks with no substance?  How much practicality must one sacrifice in the name of style?  Can the CC be a reasonable surrogate for a less stylish, more upright sedan?

I’ll get right to the point.  The answer is yes, once you get inside.  And also, as long as you don’t need to seat more than four.  Let me explain.  The price you pay for such gorgeous proportions is somewhat more challenging access.  The low roof means you have to crouch down low to get in.  That’s even more so for rear seat passengers (or as I found out as a new dad, parents getting babies in and out of car seats), who much also negotiate a steeply raked C-pillar.  On top of that, there is no center seating position in the rear; the CC features four individual bucket seats.

But once in, the CC is surprisingly spacious.  Rear seat legroom is plentiful.  The front seat area feels cockpit-like, but isn’t lacking for actual room.  All of the seats are firm, supportive, and supremely comfortable.  True, the roof is low, visibility is a little limited by the gunslit windows, and headroom isn’t overly generous, but once you get settled in, the CC is a very comfortable place to be.

That comfort is enhanced by an interior that simply feels luxurious and expensive.  The two-tone black and cream color scheme of our Lux Limited grade test car was gorgeous to look at, and the materials (which included real wood and aluminum, not plastic-lookalike trim) truly felt from a class above.  No other mid-size sedan comes close in execution.

The trunk is spacious too, easily swallowing all of our family gear including a fairly sizable stroller with room to spare.  Due to the sleek proportions, the trunk opening wasn’t particularly large, making it somewhat challenging to load large items (like the aforementioned stroller) into the cargo hold.  But in the end, it all did fit.

The CC certainly drives in a manner consistent with its looks.  Like any German sports sedan should, it steers and handles confidently and feels rock solid at any speed.  The ride is firm yet comfortable.  The structure feels incredibly robust.  No Asian or American mid-size sedan out there feels as much of a keen driver’s car as this.

And the powertrain, a 200HP turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed dual clutch automatic, is heavenly.  It’s smooth, quick, and responsive with a transmission that shifts uncannily fast.  It gets good fuel economy too; it’s rated by the EPA at 22 MPG city and 31 MPG highway (I got about 25 MPG during my weekend with the car).  Expunge any negative associations you might have with four-cylinder engines; this one is truly a class act.

In the end, the CC is a surefire way to escape the doldrums of mid-size sedan ownership.  Sure, you’ll have to sacrifice just a bit of practicality, but for such a pretty machine, it fulfills the mid-size sedan job surprisingly well.

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