The base engine on the CC is a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged unit that makes 200 horsepower. The optional V6 engine displaces 3.6 liters and makes 280 horsepower. While the 2.0L turbo offers plenty of power for most circumstances, the V6 transforms the CC into a genuinely sporty car. Both engines are mated to a variety of 6-speed transmissions, the most interesting of which is the DSG dual-clutch unit available with the 2.0L turbo. It takes many of the best attributes of manual transmissions and combines them with the best attributes of a traditional automatic. Able to change gears in .04 seconds, it is nearly seamless in its operation. The transmission also operates more efficiently than a traditional automatic and is one of the reasons the 2.0T CC is rated at 21 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
The Volkswagen CC comes in four trims: 2.0T Sport, 2.0T Executive, 2.0T R-line and VR6 Executive. The 2.0T Sport is the most basic model but still comes nicely equipped with bi-xenon headlights, rain sensing wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, a 12-way power adjustable driver seat, satellite radio and Bluetooth as well as Volkswagen's Car-Net in-vehicle telematics and smartphone integration system. The standard transmission with the 2.0T Sport is a 6-speed manual, but a 6-speed DSG automatic is an option.
The 2.0T R-line is the sportiest CC in the lineup and features a unique front bumper and side sills, as well as 18-inch wheels and smoked taillights. A 6-speed manual is available as is a 6-speed DSG.
The 2.0T Executive on the other hand is offered only with a DSG. Everything included in the R-Line trim level is also standard on the Executive; however the 18-inch wheels feature a different design. The Executive version of the CC also adds a power glass sunroof, proximity entry, ambient lighting and brushed aluminum trim for the interior.
The VR6 Executive comes with a 3.6L V6 that makes 280 horsepower. It comes standard with 4MOTION all-wheel drive and the 6-speed DSG transmission. It also adds front seat ventilation, a driver's seat massage function, park distance control, rear proximity sensors and a power rear sunshade.
Safety in the CC has been addressed with numerous airbags including those for front and side thorax airbags for front seat occupants and side curtain airbags for both the front and the rear seats. Volkswagen Intelligent Crash Response System takes things one step further by switching off the fuel pump, unlocking the doors and turning on the hazard warning lights if the on board computer detects certain types of collisions. Of course the best accident is one that doesn't happen, so all CC's include stability control, traction control, engine braking assist, anti-slip regulation and electronic differential lock and of course anti-lock brakes.
When the 2015 Volkswagen CC arrived in the CNET garage, I mentally prepped myself for yet another midsize sedan review, admittedly not my favorite type of car but a major segment of the market. In the driver's seat of the CC, which is actually rated as a compact, I was surprised to see a six-speed manual stick on the center console. An odd choice for a segment where automatics dominate in greater number than first time novel writers at a Starbucks.
However, the reason for the manual transmission became clear when I noticed the car's R-Line badges, the trim level promising amped-up performance. You can also opt for an automatic, which for the CC means Volkswagen's quick-shifting DSG, a dual-clutch automated manual.
Regardless of trim, the CC outshines its siblings in the Volkswagen lineup for looks, showing off a curvaceous roofline flowing back toward the trunk lid. The R-Line gets a more aggressive lower fascia complete with big air ducts that are likely overkill for the 2-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood. The grille shows more height than Volkswagen's most recent corporate styling, as seen on the Golf, and still retains the hook-shaped LED parking light rings the company seems to be phasing out.
The Good An efficient and reasonably powerful engine combined with a comfortable ride underpin the 2015 Volkswagen CC's gracefully curved sedan body.
The Bad The available six-speed manual's linkage lacks precision. Cabin content, from the trafficless navigation system to the minimal driver assistance, doesn't justify the model's high price.
The Bottom Line Although a nicely designed car with comfortable driving characteristics, there is little about the 2015 Volkswagen CC to justify its price, especially compared with more feature-rich cars costing substantially less.
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