Little children should never ride around in a 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC. It doesn't come with juice box holders for good reason: It's a grown-up's car.
There's no space inside its luxurious interior for drooling toddlers banging away on armrests or fidgety pre-schoolers dirtying everything with their Cheeto-stained fingertips.
The driver of the CC shouldn't have to deal with distracting questions about dinosaurs and why the first-grade teacher, Ms. Allalone, has a mustache. Even daddy deserves a break for some driving.
And the Passat CC allows for serious curve carving. It doesn't really matter if it's got VW's 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or the more powerful 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6, this car was made for drivers, not underaged passengers.
Now, I'm sure VW would disagree and welcomes families of four into their dealerships to sell them the all-new CC. After all, they're in the business of peddling push rods and don't stand around with a stick measuring customers' kids' height before they clamor into the back. Baby seats can be strapped into the spacious second row, which is really designed for two adults and not bundles of joy.
The CC is an expensive VW but still a moderately priced luxury car -- one that looks and feels like an exclusive German-engineered piece of high-performance machinery. The 2-liter turbocharged CC sport starts at $27,100, and the top of the line 4Motion four-wheel drive V-6 version starts at $39,800, not including a $750 shipping charge.
My 4Motion test model topped $42,000 and seemed to come with every amenity many luxury cars include but for thousands of dollars less.
It's the best-performing Volkswagen in the company's lineup.
And the best looking. A not-so-poor-man's car
The four-door coupe has become a new entry in the American automotive lexicon. The idea is to create a more spacious interior than a typical coupe -- meaning the backseat can fit more than a few gym bags. Typically, the four-door coupe belongs to high-end European performance cars such as the Mercedes CLS550 and the Aston Martin Rapide. The four-door Porsche Panamera is also on its way. The CC is the not-so-poor man's version of these much more expensive vehicles.
The body is low to the ground, the roof line slopes quickly back and there's a sinisterly fast look to this car. The CC includes those same sophisticated lines that makes it look more molded from liquid than pressed by tools. The big grille stretches the CC look on a horizontal plain -- making it look wider and longer.
The CC stretches 189 inches but stands only 55.8 inches high. (The regular Passat is 58 inches tall.) The car's wedge-like stance adds to its fast looks. The sloping roofline curves dramatically back, like a sculpture. Fine art is rarely the purview of children.
Instead of pushing the wheels out to the corners, VW kept proportions in a more classic form. The high belt line means that kids in the back would not even be able to see out the window; another reason not to bring them. They'd be bored.
Drivers won't be. A precise, quiet ride
The car's performance will bring the kid out of just about any driver. The acceleration on my test vehicle felt exhilarating and the all-wheel drive system kept the car securely planted on all surfaces. (VW says the CC can hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 6.9 seconds with the 2-liter model and 6.6 seconds in the 4Motion model.)
VW isolated the road and wind noise so it can easily cruise at 80 mph and fool the driver into thinking he's only going 45.
The six-speed automatic transmission clicks through gears with Swiss-watch precision. The 2-liter sport model comes with a manual transmission and can reach 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 21 mpg in the city. My test model had an EPA certified 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
The steering and handling was more sports car than family sedan. The electromechanical power steering dual-pinion is exact. The specially tuned suspension includes MacPherson struts and triangular wishbone construction in the front and a four-link independent rear. VW even acoustically decoupled the rear axle from the car's body. My test vehicle also included optional Bi-xenon headlamps with adaptive forward lighting system that turn with the steering wheel to let you see around the corner.
The best technology is the kind you never notice. The CC includes standard electronic stability control; yaw control; and six air bags, including side curtain air bags for all four passengers. The stability control is not overbearing and allows you to drive this car hard without ever squashing the fun out of it. Comfort from front to back
Inside the cockpit, the CC feels like a luxurious race car. The 12-way adjustable seat allowed me to create a seating position better than a La-Z-Boy. Leather was everywhere -- the seats, the steering wheel -- and it gives the car olfactory sophistication. (The base model comes with fake leather, dubbed by VW as leatherette.)
Then there is the brushed aluminum throughout the cabin. It sparkles with elegance without overstating how luxurious the interior is. There are all the controls any adult might appreciate: dual climate controls and VW's new navigation screen (known as Media Device Interface) with remarkably clear pictures. It can connect with your personal music device and includes a 32-gigabyte hard disk. There are also more practical features, such as intermittent wipers, a self-dimming rear view mirror, a back camera and sensors, and even a power rear sun shade for the back passengers.
The two back seats are encased in leather and are extremely comfortable, separated by a roll-top center console that hold drinks and a medical kit. The seats fold down as well, expanding the spacious trunk.
Whichever seat you choose, front or back, it's comfortable. You could sit in the back all the way to Chicago and get out feeling refreshed and ready for a night on the town. Perhaps the only negative about the seats is how low they are to the ground. When you attempt to get into the CC, you almost fall into the seat instead of climbing into it. But that only makes getting out that much easier.
The older I get, the more I appreciate a comfortable seat. When I was younger, I could sleep any which way and never minded riding in the back -- the way back with the luggage in the family Ford LTD station wagon. As a kid, the CC is the kind of vehicle I wouldn't have known how nice it really was, and I would have ended up bandaging up my sister with the first aid kit before we ever left the state.
Some cars are family haulers and that's fine. Most carmakers cater to kids nearly as much as they do to the people driving the machines. Third rows, juice box holders, DVD players -- how spoiled can someone get on their way to preschool?
The Passat CC isn't one of those cars. It's nice to finally see a great sedan, disguised as a coupe, that lets adults have the fun.
firstname.lastname@example.org (313) 223-3217
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
Four-passenger front or all-wheel drive sports sedan/coupe
Starting price: $27,100
2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
2-liter: 200 hp; 207 pound-feet torque
3.6-liter: 280 hp; 265 pound-feet torque
2-liter: six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
3.6-liter: six-speed automatic
2-liter: manual: 21 mpg city / 31 mpg highway; automatic: 19 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
3.6-liter: 17 mpg city / 25 mpg highway
Overall: *** 1/2
Exterior : Excellent. Low-riding body and sloping roof make this car look nearly as fast as it is. Every piece meticulously sculpted.
Interior: Excellent. Leather-bound seats and aluminum trim makes the front look nearly as comfortable as the second row, which includes a center stack.
Performance: Good. Sharp acceleration and excellent handling makes the CC a blast around town and on the highway.
Safety : Excellent. Six air bags including front, front thorax and side curtain air bags for all passengers. The CC also includes standard electronic stability control, yaw control, brake assist and electronic locking differential.
Pros: A fun car that denotes luxury at a much more affordable price.
Cons : If you want to carry more than four people it, they won't fit.
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