“That thing’s a Volkswagen?” If we had a nickel for every time we heard this from a random passerby through our week with Volkswagen’s CC R-Line, well, we’d have quite a few nickels in our pockets. Most swore it was a Jaguar, while the father of a teenager who accidentally backed in to it was worried that his son’s insurance would take a huge hit from the cost it would take to fix our Mercedes. One thing was certain, though, everyone thought the car was much more expensive than it actually is.
That could be a direct result of the company it keeps. As a four-door coupe, the CC sits long and lean with Mercedes-Benz’s CLS, Audi’s new A7, and even Aston Martin’s Rapide. For once, Volkswagen was an early adopter to a trend, having introduced the CC all the way back in January 2008, before most of the segment’s current heavy-hitters were around. Because of this, the CC has earned a bit of low-key respect as an established player in the niche.
The R-Line derivative we tested only enhances the CC’s upmarket perception. Offered as a separate model rather than merely an option package, the R-Line takes the standard 2.0T model and raises the aesthetic appeal to a new level. Compared to the 2010 CC Sport we drove last summer, this car wears a lower front bumper, with deeper sideskirts running down the side. Around back, darkened taillights lend a more aggressive touch than the friendly red standard lamps, while the lower bumper valance sports an integrated diffuser-like panel. All of this sits on top of 18-inch split-spoke alloy wheels.
The effect, while subtle, gives the car a much more sculpted appearance. Visually, it looks as if it should carry a massive, forced-induction V8 like models from loftier marques. Nevertheless, the two-liter turbocharged four does such a decent job launching the CC that some may be convinced there’s more than just 200 horses under there. Backing the engine’s performance is the wonderful DSG transmission, which, in sport mode, bangs out shifts with a pronounced pop from the tailpipe.
As nice as all this looks, the CC R-Line’s real beauty is its dirty little secret. Each time we were asked what kind of car we were driving, we took the opportunity to ask the uninformed what they figured it cost. Seat-of-the-pants data revealed a near-universal average between $50,000 and $60,000. You can imagine, then, the reaction of each person when we revealed the as-tested price of $32,380.
As we’ve said before, this is what we feel Volkswagen should be all about — a genuine European experience at an attainable price. And the CC — particularly in R-Line trim — embodies this spirit perfectly. Just ask anyone on the street.