Volkswagen is moving in an entirely new direction for the American market, so abundant size and thrifty prices will take precedence over distinctive styling and fancy-pants (but expensive) cabin materials. Perhaps it'll be a successful strategy on the sales front. But for those who don't mind paying extra for world-class construction, Germanic driving dynamics, punchy engines and memorable styling, the 2012 Volkswagen CC is a welcome remnant from VW's not-so-old school. While the CC shares its platform, engines and dashboard design with the previous-generation Passat, it sets itself apart with a rakish four-door body that evokes a sleek coupe look (CC stands for Comfort Coupe). This not only sets it apart from the rather frumpy new Passat, but also most run-of-the-mill midsize sedans as well. Heck, we can think of several luxury-branded cars that would be lucky to look as cool as the CC. There is a downside to this styling, however. The backseat is not only tight on headroom, but it seats only two people. That may make it more coupelike, but it also makes it less friendly for families. While most folks don't frequently require five seats, the inevitable five in a pinch moments put the CC at a notable disadvantage. The CC stands apart from its new Passat sibling under the hood, as well. Though they both offer the same optional 3.6-liter V6, the CC gets a more powerful and sophisticated 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder as standard equipment. This is one of the best engines around, providing thrifty fuel economy and surprisingly rapid acceleration given its output. There is no turbodiesel model, though, unlike the Passat. The 2012 VW CC may have its practical drawbacks, but overall we think they're outweighed by the car's sleek styling and quintessentially German character. The CC is a more stylish and refined alternative to family sedans like the 2012 Honda Accord, 2012 Hyundai Sonata and 2012 Passat, while a loaded-up CC can match entry-level luxury-branded vehicles like the 2012 Acura TL, 2012 Audi A4 and Infiniti G Sedan. For the right kind of buyer, this VW relic will be just the thing. Performance & mpg The 2012 VW CC 2.0T models are front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the Sport and R-Line, while a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (DSG) is available on those trims and standard on the Lux trims. Despite its modest output, the energetic 2.0T engine is nevertheless capable of bringing the CC from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds with the DSG; that's about a second quicker than the typical four-cylinder midsize sedan. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the automatic. The manual drops the city number to 21. The VR6 4Motion Executive gets all-wheel drive and a 3.6-liter V6 good for 280 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. A conventional six-speed automatic is standard. In Edmunds performance testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17/25/20. Safety All Volkswagen CCs come standard with antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), stability and traction control, hill-hold assist, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the CC 2.0T Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet -- an average distance, but stepping up to the 19-inch wheels and better tires that come with them betters that to an excellent 113 feet. The VR6 stopped in 124 feet. In crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the CC its top rating of Good for frontal-offset and side-impact tests. Driving The 2012 Volkswagen CC neatly splits the difference between sporty handling and luxurious comfort for a ride quality that should be agreeable to a majority of drivers. The sport-tuned suspension is on the firm side, but still ably isolates passengers from all but the harshest of road imperfections. Compared to more traditional sport sedans, the CC exhibits more body roll, but handling is admirable nonetheless. The steering is light at parking-lot speeds and weights up nicely as speed increases, but it lacks the desired feedback for sporty driving. The base 2.0-liter turbo is energetic and efficient, and should suffice for most drivers. We're particularly fond of the DSG transmission, as it shifts quickly and smoothly. Those with an appetite for more power will likely be impressed by the 3.6-liter V6, which brings the 2012 CC's acceleration closer to that of other AWD luxury rivals. Interior From the base Sport model to the top-of-the-line Executive trim, the 2012 Volkswagen CC shows off the luxury amenities and workmanship normally associated with premium luxury brands. The vinyl-leatherette surfaces are not only convincing but also look and feel better than some of the genuine leather found in other cars. Other interior materials are well-textured, with the majority being soft to the touch. The front seats offer a plethora of adjustments to fit nearly any body type. Backseat headroom is limited by the sloping roof line, so taller rear passengers will find themselves slouching to fit, but average-sized adults should find these seats supportive and comfortable, with ample legroom. Rather than cram a center seat in the back, the CC's designers used that space to provide the two rear passengers with a covered bin, handy cupholders and a flip-down armrest. There should be a middle seat option, however, and this could be a deal-breaker for families. The split-folding rear seats feature a center pass-through to add to the 13 cubic feet of trunk space, which is a bit small for a midsize sedan. As a result, a golf bag will need to lie diagonally within the trunk, limiting the ability to accommodate more cargo.