A stripper Passat, though, is pared back to a store-brand frozen-fish-sticks price. The base CC as tested here is a different bowl of bouillabaisse, a driver’s delight that includes essential equipment but eschews unneeded distractions. Officially, it’s the Sport 2.0T with the standard six-speed manual transmission, and its $33, 550 sticker reflects no options. The entry price has been a little lower in the past, but the packaging has been realigned and this year’s CC includes a standard 5.0-inch touch screen, navigation, a rearview camera, and adaptive bixenon headlights—it’s a better value proposition than was the 2013 we tested previously in a stick-versus-automatic comparison. This one ran near-identical numbers at the track, taking 6.5 seconds to hit 60 mph en route to a quarter-mile in 15.1 at 94 mph, stopping from 70 mph in 168 feet, and cornering at 0.86 g. That’s good enough to be entertaining on your favorite byways without setting anyone’s hair on fire.
It goes about its business with a really sweet balance of handling and ride comfort, good feedback and control in its pedals and shifter, and the responsive engine we’ve applauded in many VW products. We could wish for a bit more steering feel, but the CC was one of the earliest to get electric assist right, with proportional effort and predictable response. For those who value such automotive traits, the CC delivers, and the base model is probably the best way to appreciate them.
To Step Up or Not?
Another $1280 would put you into the R-Line variant with some minor cosmetic tweaks, but the only functional changes would be 18-inch wheels in place of the 17s on this car, as well as paddle shifters if you also opted for the DSG automatic. Our earlier test found the manual preferable, though, and its availability remains an asset. The top-spec Executive trim with this engine brings the DSG with paddles; a larger, 6.5-inch touch screen; keyless access; leather upholstery; and wood trim. Or you can go deep into the mid-$40K range by opting for the driveline upgrades of the 280-hp 3.6-liter VR6 engine, 4MOTION all-wheel drive, and Executive Lux trim that includes parking sensors, massaging seats, and more.