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In the Maxim Garage: 2009 Volkswagen CC

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S P E C    C H E C K
2009 VW CC VR6 4Motion
Price: $42,630 (as tested)
Engine: 3.6-liter direct-injection VR6
Torque: 265 lb.-ft @ 2750rpm
Horsepower: 280
0-60: 6.2 sec
Top speed: 130 (limited)
RATING:   review_star_8.gif

Don’t get us wrong: getting behind the wheel of an obnoxiously hot car like the Dodge Challenger SRT8 is great fun, especially when it’s blazing orange and bedecked with racing stripes. But unless you have the attention needs (and fuel budget) of Matthew McConaughey, a modern muscle car may not be the best choice of wheels. Sexy cars don’t often make good daily drivers.
 
But then there are the lust-worthy cars you could live with every day. After spending a weekend in the new VW CC, we’d easily put it in this category. A sexy Volkswagen? Yep, we said it. Vee-dub’s luxe new model is its latest bid to go upmarket: it’s got four doors, but gets the dramatic, sloped curvature of a coupe, an idea borrowed from the similarly lush Mercedes CLS—a car that stickers for $71,000+, more than twice the base price of a CC.

Dash.jpgTHE GOOD: Smooth like Heidi Klum. More powerful, and more sophisticated (maybe).

The CC could actually be considered a cool cousin of VW’s full size sedan, the Passat, since the two cars share the same chassis and many of the same parts. But the CC’s sheet metal is all new, and design details like its wider, more aggressive stance, lower roofline, and frameless windows make the Passat’s ho-hum styling seem like yesterday’s breakfast. The CC’s only relevant loss? Its middle backseat.
 
The CC’s performance is impressive. On a long weekend trip, the 6-speed, AWD automatic VR6 model tore over the plateaus of Western PA with aplomb. VW says that the car's rigid suspension and 265 ft-lbs of torque were tuned on the autobahn, a claim that made good sense to us after midnight as we briefly hit triple digits on a desolate stretch of I-80. It probably would have made even better sense if we were playing Kraftwerk at the time through the car's 600-watt sound system. This car just devours the miles, in true Teutonic fashion. 
 
Inside the cabin, there isn't a cheesy element to be found—and during a nine-hour drive, we had time to look for one. Controls and buttons are smart, minimal, and well thought out. Ambient lights gleam off the real aluminum dash accents. Its leather sport seats adjust 12 different ways, and coddled us like a stern German mother.

THE BAD: Options can make it pricier than the more muscular Pontiac G8 GXP and the more focused Infiniti G37.

While our lush, upgraded CC  was a solid performer, its $42,630 sticker was enough to give pause. It is a Volkswagen, after all, not an Audi or a BMW.

So we’re interested in the idea of the base model, which gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter powerplant mated to a six-speed manual, has the same svelte look and comes in nearly 15 grand less.
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And though it doesn’t grab the looks like a flaming orange Challenger, the CC does draw its share of admirers. At the end of the weekend, as we were dropping off a pal at his apartment, a menacing-looking utility van pulled eerily close the CC, its headlights piercing the rear windshield. The van driver rode our ass through several lights before pulling up passenger side. We prepared for a Brooklyn-style confrontation. But then as the driver rolled down his window, he simply shouted "What's the car?" We told him.

"Really, that's a Volkswagen?" he said. "Really? A VW, huh? Damn! Nice lines!"
 
BOTTOM LINE: The people’s car gets sexy.