2013 Volkswagen CC R-line: Sage wisdom from stylish car

first_imgWhen it first came to the states, the Volkswagen CC was exactly the type of car VW could do. A few years ago, VW had all the brass schnitzels to tell the American car buying public: “Zee? Ve can make a car that iz style more than substance.” Incredibly, Volkswagen was right.When the CC came out in 2008, buyers didn’t seem to notice that it was a re-skinned previous generation Passat. (Didn’t notice or didn’t care; same diff, really.)2013 Volkswagen CC R-line (Courtesy photo)It was a four-door coupe design — and yes, I understand that’s an oxymoron — that was hot a few years ago and Volkswagen could do a quick version of their own to offer in a relatively bare marketplace. After all, around 2008, VW had their eyes on being the world’s largest automaker, and to get there in a hurry. Slapping new bodies on existing platforms and selling them as near-luxury models could boost a bottom line in a hurry, right?Fast forward to 2013, and VW’s year so far can optimistically be summed up as, “Meh.”So where then, might you ask, does the CC fit into the lineup in a rebuilding year? Perhaps there’s no room for a four-door coupe that starts at more than $30,000 — $10,000 more than a base Passat — that appeals to a small market. Think that’s not reason enough to continue with the CC? Think again.For sure, the CC is unlike any other car in the Volkswagen lineup. Styled by VW designer Oliver Stefan, who also worked on the New Beetle Cabrio, the CC represents a moment of genuine creativity in a lineup balanced equally by quirk and necessity.Sure, there are hints in the CC that it’s based on a Passat anyway. But with a longer body, raised hood line and sweeping roofline, any comparisons of the CC to a much tamer Passat only happen when you break out the measuring tape and start comparing wheelbase figures. The CC’s subtle flared wheel arches in the front and rear add to the idea that it’s just a tinge different than the flat-front trousers of the Passat. The high belt line and low roofline give the idea that the CC is actually lower to the ground than it is, adding to the coupe appeal and feeding the idea that, “no, this isn’t an ordinary sedan.”The CC is not an ordinary sedan, smart guy. It’s better looking than a normal sedan. Which is to say, there’s some sacrifice in a few areas. Visibility takes a hit with the low roofline and high belt line. It’s also a bit smashed in the back thanks to a raked back window that sacrifices real estate for an angle that completes the coupe effect. Are all of these deal breakers? Probably not. But beauty is sacrifice, don’t you know.The real story for 2013 here isn’t what the CC looks like; it looks pretty close to the same after all these years. (I’ll catch heat from VW enthusiasts for that, I know. The CC underwent a mild facelift this year, but to me, it really looks the same.) But rather, the news is that the CC gets the “R-line” treatment from Volkswagen for the first time for 2013. For the uninitiated, Volkswagen’s R is rarified air for the people’s mobiles. The Golf R, for instance, is a legend in the hatchback world. The Beetle R is a ridiculously mean bug. And the Scirocco R is so highly revered, you can’t buy it — yet. The “R-line” then is a distillation, or flirtation, of that rarified status.For 2013, the CC R-line gets the 2.0-liter turbo four, which produces 200 horsepower and roughly the same amount of torque. It’s the same engine as the standard model, and the R-line can be mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic with paddle shifters. The R-line slots roughly in the middle, between the standard and VR6 option that places a 280-hp six under the hood instead of the turbo four. Does the R-line hold to the pedigree of fastest in the lineup? Maybe not. Does it look the fastest with special, more aggressive front bumper and side skirts? Sure, why not?Inside there are creature comforts like 12-way heated power seats, premium sound, leatherette seats and rain-sensing wipers for the R-line badge. But let’s be honest, I had you at “aggressive front bumper” already, didn’t I? The CC isn’t cramped, it fits four adults just fine and there’s enough room in the trunk for golf clubs. What else do you need?Driving the CC is where it begins to separate from the Passat. The CC feels sporty and meaner, like a coupe would be, wholly different than a Passat. Rowing through the gears in our CC R-line tester ($33,020 as tested) was pleasurable. It’s nice to finally drive a grown-up sedan in an almost completely childish way, banging through gears and squealing tires. If there’s a drawback, it’s in the steering. Although the CC feels almost different than any other sedan, it does have a somewhat numb feel throughout the wheel like a sedan. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it is noticeable.So how then does a coupe-driving sedan fit into VW’s plan for redemption? It might seem on the surface that it’s a luxury that’s expendable in a sales slump.Not so fast. VW’s heritage is on offering models that are too pretty and too fun to ignore. And while the CC R-line feels like it might be a stretch for the badge, it is a wholly creative animal that can bring a brand back from a slumping year.Aaron Cole is managing editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at acole@aurorasentinel.comlast_img