2011 Volkswagen CC Sport Review

Side view of silver 2011 Volkswagen CC Sport
I wonder if Volkswagen appreciates the irony of the new CC.

Six years ago, the company introduced the Phaeton, a big luxury sedan with a price tag starting around $65,000 and running all the way up to $95,000 (a hundred grand with tax) for a 12-cylinder model.

It was a monumental flop, yanked summarily from the U.S. market after only a couple of seasons (it is still sold in Europe and is on the verge of a third facelift for 2011 that has die-hard fans hoping for a return to America)

Part of the problem was that for all that money, it looked like a Passat, only bigger. And from a block away, with no perspective to judge size, it looked like a Passat, period.

So now, VW creates a truly desirable car...and it really is a Passat...but with a sleek roofline and some other styling tricks.

Front 3/4 view of 2011 Volkswagen CC SportRear 3/4 view of 2011 Volkswagen CC Sport

And...here's the good part...it carries a price tag lower than the Passat...base price for the Sport model I drove is $27,100...$1,200 below the least-expensive Passat.

The current-generation Passat is a bit of an awkward child...not Teutonically purposeful as the ones before, but without actually achieving elegance or desirability. Attempts to soften the Passat have resulted in it coming off as lukewarm.

But the CC turns up the heat by appealing to the emotions with fluid, sensuous lines.

Interior view of 2011 Volkswagen CC Sport

And the best part is that, through artful use of colors, details and materials, Volkswagen makes the CC's interior feel special, too...giving you the impression that you're driving something a rung or two above the Passat.

The CC gets these impressions so right that driving the base model (the Sport), with only two options (a six-speed automatic transmission and Sirius Satellite radio), feels like the lap of luxury...and keeps the price tag, including destination charges, under $30,000.

You can go hog-wild with the VR6 4Motion and break $40,000 without a sweat....but why, when the Sport is so good?

EPA estimate (with automatic): 19 city/29 highway. Manual transmission 21 city/31 highway.

UPDATE: Just ended a week in another CC Sport. Everything above applies...apart from a base price increase to $27,760. Still, this one bottom-lined at $29,660...with the only option being a six-speed automatic.

And about that...the gas mileage estimate improves to 22 city/31 highway. In my even mix of city streets and freeways, I got 24 for the week...and the range estimate when I took delivery of 450 miles seems plausible. I handed it back this morning with just under half a tank of gas remaining.