by Gabe Beita Kiser
No toys, no gimmicks, just one of the smoothest drivers south of $40k.
Taking on a press car with full knowledge that it will be replaced within a year by something that, at least on paper and in concept form, appears to be ten times the car the current vehicle is, doesn’t exactly define smart. However, a previous winter trip to Arizona saw me slumped behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Passat and it would have pained me to not give its prettier “four-door coupe” derivative a go this time around, if only to see what Volkswagen was thinking when it built the darn thing.
Within a day of landing, a representative was at my door with the keys to a Harbor Blue Metallic CC in hand. A glance at the Monroney sticker shows that Volkswagen is making big claims despite a short option-free features list, mainly because the $35,340 base price, which includes the $865 destination charge, was $3,535 more expensive than the vastly more loaded and practical Passat. Practical, of course, is a relative term because the very German CC is oriented as logically as possible once you get over the fact that the starter button is near the shift lever. Like all other Volkswagens, the CC is a refuge for the obsessive compulsive among us.
Buttons feel solid, unlike the loosely cobbled together interiors on some modern American cars we won’t mention. Doors shut tightly with a solid thud and every interaction between car and driver was a preordained exchange of input and output through a tight and well-oiled medium. The layout was nice too, spacious up front despite the sloping roofline and able to hide its age on the technological side of things with a 6.3-inch configurable touchscreen display giving access to the radio, Bluetooth settings, navigation, back up camera, and an info screen that displays everything from the cheapest nearby gas station and traffic information to movie times at your local theater and scores of your favorite preset teams.
Despite the current-gen software, the interior felt aged. A Desert Beige color scheme with contrasting Black Leatherette strewn across the seats almost gave reason to forgive that offense, but an ugly steering wheel hurt the prospect of a full reprieve. Once the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is awakened, most of those complaints go away. Take a second to imagine the sort of person who buys this budget four-door coupe, a cheaper alternative in a class inhabited by the Audi A5 Sportback or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe that offers less luxury and fewer toys but is stylish nonetheless. More than likely, that crowd actually wants the full experience and is willing to sacrifice the toys.
Good news here because the CC drives like a grand touring coupe. Smooth doesn’t even begin to describe it. With ample amounts of sound deadening and an artfully crafted suspension that both relays the dynamic situation going on underneath while doing away with the discomforts of Tucson’s pothole-infested roads, the CC is a home away from home on surface streets. Characteristically for luxury cars outside of this class, the CC can attain speeds much higher than the posted limits without the driver knowing it. Glancing down at the rather alarming story the speedometer tells is the only way to find out that it’s only a matter of time before speeding tickets become a factor.