Review: Saying Goodbye to the CC V6

For all its size and its global reach, Volkswagen is still, in many ways, a deeply human company. There was, for instance, the Bugatti Veyron an ego project if ever there was one. Then the purchase of Ducati, a move most called folly. And then there was the Phaeton, the Volkswagen that most folks can’t afford. Not only were these moves all strange, I’m sure that they made VW’s accountants furious. None of them made good business sense, but they were all deeply interesting and they all are evidence of the heart that beats at the center of VW. Among these follies is the CC, a car that everyone agrees is rakishly handsome, but that no one really wanted to buy. The car couldn’t last, but the world is brighter for its having been in it.

With the approach debut of the Arteon, it seems like a good time to look back on its sadly departing predecessor. The version I drove, because I live in Canada, is a V6 Wolfsburg Edition, which apparently isn’t available in the States. Nor is the V6, not as a 2017 model, anyway, but buy a 2016 version, because it’s worth it.

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Honestly, there’s little more to say. It’s a VW that looks like a Mercedes—one of the few good looking ones from the last decade—and drives like an R, except it’s got a VR6. It’s everything you could want in a car except that you can’t really afford it and anyone who can wants a Mercedes, because, well, they’ve worked hard their whole lives and they’ve always dreamed of owning one and everything it represents. So instead the CC is the car that people gawk at on their way to buy a Tiguan, because it’ll hold all the football equipment that their kids use and the kayaks that they like to use on the weekend.

And that’s sad, because if they took the CC for a test drive they might be charmed enough to forget the kids and the kayaking and make a mistake. And it would be a mistake.

Despite its Passat DNA, the CC is a surprisingly small car. The Passat makes much better use of its space, but, then, it has to. Its interior is bright and airy with plenty of shoulder room and space enough for a small tennis team and all its equipment. The CC, on the other hand, is all dark leather and serious business. With seats that hold you close and a cockpit that feels unfairly biased in your favor, it would not be a suitable car for a small tennis team or its equipment, but is instead made for a driver. If, on the other hand, you have a small family, they would have no trouble squeezing in.

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And for all its Mercedes-like looks, the CC isn’t actually all that luxurious. It is, after all, still just a humble people’s car, so there are still all kinds of VW parts inside. No acres of Alcantara, no hideous carbon fiber, and no leather-covered dash. Instead you get sensible materials that will age well and won’t crack under the sun’s ever harshening rays. But for all its flaws, maybe even because of them, it feels special.

Story time: When I was younger, my eldest brother needed a commuter car for his first career-type-job that was a long drive away across one of North America’s biggest cities using its busiest highway. Basically all he needed was something reliable that sipped fuel, but when he came back from the dealership he was driving an RX-8. It was, as he would soon come all too painfully to learn, a catastrophic mistake. It needed high test gas which it drank like an alcoholic, it broke down constantly, and earned him any number of tickets, but hell if I didn’t respect him for it. He dreamed a dream. No one could accuse him of having compromised when he made his decision. He chose that RX-8. And that’s kind of how I feel about people I see driving CCs. They chose it. They didn’t pick it because they couldn’t afford a Mercedes-or-whatever. They chose it because they wanted a CC.

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The CC is a deeply imperfect car. It drinks fuel thirstily, there isn’t all that much interior space, and probably costs too much, but hell if it isn’t a charming car. It’s quick, it’s fun, it feels nice and tight inside, and the rumble of the V6 is deeply lovely. CC owners went to dealership knowing what they wanted and refused to compromise and that’s not an easy thing to do, just ask Hyundai drivers.

So yes. The CC is going because it had to die, but I still get excited when I see one. It’s actual evidence of VW’s human, fallible, lovable soul.