DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: The 2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line is an attractive enough car, but its steep $34,000 price is pure style over substance. Compared to the Passat, you get a more cramped cockpit, modest amounts of standard equipment and a roofline that invites occupants to bash their heads on the doorsill every time they climb out of the car. Oh, and the rear doors are impossible to open in any normal parking space due to the extended rear “point” that offers the choice of dinging the car beside you or just leaving the kids in the CC (we flipped a coin).
Our CC R-Line tester did arrive with VW's excellent 2.0-liter turbo four which has enough grunt to induce some torque steer in this moderately heavy sedan (sorry VW, I'm not calling a four-door car a “coupe” no matter how many times you say it on your site). When prodded the CC scoots, and the six-speed manual is a great companion for the smooth four. Similarly, I had no complaints about ride and handling despite not being able to really flog the car.
The place the CC really falls down is the same place every modern Volkswagen product fails: equipment levels for the price. At $34K the CC is absent leather upholstery and a moonroof; VW's site claims every CC comes with a rearview camera, but if ours had one I couldn't get it to activate in a weekend of trying. Even within the pantheon of overpriced VWs, the CC stands out -- it's within $500 of a Passat V6 SEL Premium, a car that offers all of the above equipment standard plus an extra two cylinders, premium audio and the DSG transmission. Want a CC with a V6? That'll be a laughable $43,000.
I'm sure a handful of style-conscious kids will make a pit-stop in the CC on their way to being able to afford what they really want -- an Audi or Mercedes-Benz. For the rest of the world, though, the Passat gives you everything the CC offers except the aggravation, all for thousands less.
The 2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I used this to buzz back and forth to the airport, and I agree it's largely style over substance, though that said, it is a good-looking car (I like the car's lines but liked the old front end better -- this one looks too much like the standard Passat). Love the 2.0-liter turbo and always have -- plenty of power and well mated to the six-speed manual. Give it some throttle and the car gets with the program nicely. I wouldn't bother with the V6. I'd save the money and go with this engine; I might pick the DSG trans, though the manual's clutch takeup and slickness is quite nice. The four is the engine, though, light on its feet and responsive.
The ride/handling mix feels good and I'm impressed with the steering. Though a tad light at lower speed it firms up decently and always feels communicative and direct. It's a fun, smooth little car to drive.
Love the seats, which are comfortable and offer a great driving position. Yes they're sort of fake leather, but whatever -- they fit my fat carcass nicely.
I don't know why, but CC sales this year aren't in the ballpark compared to last year: Around 4,000 sold this year compared to almost 6,000 at this time in '13. Maybe it's because the regular Passat is a better value -- VW has sold almost 34,000 of those so far. On the other hand, Toyota sells more Camrys in a month (38,000 in April) than VW has sold Passats this year.
The 2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line is a good-looking car.
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: Man, lately I seem to be agreeing quite a bit with Raynal and Stoy, which usually disturbs me … But as much as I sometimes dislike spiraling into a value debate at the risk of overlooking a vehicle's merits, in this case the point is valid.
Volkswagen's CC is, to my eyes, a very attractive coup…er, sedan. You could argue that its flashy exterior styling suggests a starting price higher than it actually is. And while Andy rightly points out the equipment level's shortcomings, it's equally fair to note that on this R-Line model you get more a more aggressive front bumper and side rockers, plus touchscreen navigation, bixenon headlamps, multimedia interface, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and steering wheel-mounted controls. So this CC is not exactly a “stripper” model, though the “leatherette” seats and omission of a rearview camera (I'm also confused as to why it isn't on this car in contradiction to VW's marketing claim) erode some of my perception of luxury.
Driving-wise, the CC R-Line is more than competent for 90-plus percent of drivers, even when driven enthusiastically. This engine/gearbox combo is popular around Autoweek, though the turbocharged I4 in this particular application is asked to do about as much as it is capable of without feeling strained; the CC is not a small car, and the reasonably loud engine and its I4-characteristics sometimes seem at odds with the overall package's size and luxury pretensions. But you can hustle this car fairly well, ride quality is comfortable, and the smooth-shifting manual is seamless to use even though it feels somewhat overly light in terms of clutch/shifter action.
Seating position is very good, and the deviated stitching on the seats -- themselves of the ribbed seat-bottom and seat-back variety -- is a nice touch. At 6'1”, I travel comfortably in the rear seats, but Andy is correct that you must remember to duck your head significantly to avoid cracking it as you exit. However, the CC, like other four-dour “coupes,” is very much about style, so this is a small sacrifice you make if you choose this body design over the Passat's or that of other conventional sedans.
The 2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line comes in at a base price of $33,890.
2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: The guys above pretty much nailed it: This 2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line is about style. We journalists get to drive everything, so we really look for substance when it comes to our cars. But because cars are so good these days -- every one will last 10 years or 100,000 miles -- people want style. We've agreed most don't care about driving in general; they just want something that looks good in their driveway. The CC does that.
The engine/trans combo is great, even if the clutch/stick is a little light. You can really thrash the engine in this car, and it keeps right on giving until you hit the conspicuously low redline. 6,000? What's up with that? Steering is easy, too, which makes sense, but I didn't feel any torque steer. I must not have been pushing hard enough.
This is a cool-looking, easy-to-drive VW, which is what a lot of people want. Obviously the Passat has more substance, and costs less. But it's a pair of beige pants, a gray sweater, every brown-haired, brown-eyed, medium-skinned kid in high school. Some people would rather be the freak.
The rearview camera and sunroof aren't deal breakers for me, but at more than $30K, I can see the complaint. Looking at Mac's list of options, it still seems well equipped. I do think the seats look cheap, though, regardless of the pattern.
Base Price: $33,890
As-Tested Price: $33,890
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4; FWD, six-speed manual
Output: 200 hp @ 5,100 rpm, 207 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,358 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 21/32/25 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 21.3 mpg
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