Introduced as a new model in 2009, the CC undergoes some mild cosmetic surgery for 2013, including a nose job and a tail tuck. The idea of the styling revisions to the front and rear fasciae was to bring the CC more in line with the modern and somewhat more masculine design cues evident in the Jetta and Passat, both of which have been successful in this market.
The net result of the new cues, particularly the Passat-like grille, is an increase in beefiness and muscularity that is somewhat at variance with the car's signature delicacy, and does little to augment its European elegance. But the revisions aren't extensive enough to do significant aesthetic violence. The CC remains one of the most handsome affordable midsize sedans out there.
The comely body styling is matched by the car's lovely interior. The major change inside is the addition of a third seating position in the rear, accomplished by removing the center storage bin.
That backseat is not as roomy as it is attractive. Thanks to the sloping roof, you don't have to be an NBA draftee to get a hair massage from the headliner.
The interior of the test car, a CC Sport Plus (base price: $32,850), was as elegant as it was comfortable and ergonomically sound. Most of the interior surfaces were soft-touch, and the supple leatherette upholstery on those great seats had the look and feel of the real McHide without the price tag.
Of course, the tester's interior décor was black with bright metal accents. Just about every test vehicle I get seems to be black and silver inside. It's a very attractive combo, but I think if I see one more I will immigrate to a remote district of Outer Mongolia where the Mongolian Auto Club has no members, and the new models run on very fresh yak milk.
The Sport Plus I drove was priced toward the bottom of the CC spectrum, just above the base car, a $30,250 Sport model with front-drive, a two-liter, four-cylinder turbo and a six-speed manual gearbox, and well below the $41,420 CC Excellent, the top-of-the-line model equipped with a V-6, a six-speed automatic, and all-wheel-drive.
The base Sport is a nicely equipped car with accoutrements like 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, heated power front seats, and a touchscreen sound system. The Sport Plus I drove adds touches like the automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, adaptive headlights and navigation.
The Sport Plus supported VW's contention that the CC is a sport sedan. It proved as peppy and nimble as it was quiet and comfortable.
The 200-horsepower rating for the CC's direct-injected, turbocharged four would suggest that it is hardly overstressed (GM, for example, gets 265 horses from its two-liter turbo). But in a car weighing a trim 3,369 pounds, that's more than enough pferdestärke for lively departures.
Handling is another plus for the Plus. The suspension furnishes a refined ride, yet does a sporty job in the corners. Indeed, the car feels quite composed in ambitious turns. The electric steering, while a little light, yields nice feel and response. Braking is more than adequate. The transmission is seamless.
The CC has decent EPA mileage estimates of 22 city and 31 highway. It has received top safety marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
2013 Volkswagen CC Sport Plus
Base price: $32,850.
As tested: $33,670 (including shipping).
Standard equipment: 2-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission, front-drive, and upmarket amenities such as bi-Xenon, adaptive headlights.
Fuel economy: 22 m.p.g. city and 31 highway.
Engine performance: Zippy.
Ride comfort: Refined.
The Ben Key: Four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.
Contact Al Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.