Today we’re going to look at two very different German sedans. One is distinctly European, and features all of the typical Germatic build-quality, and luxury features that you’d expect from a “premium sedan”. And the other is a re-bodied Passat. In the 1990’s, we would’ve called these “Near Luxury” cars. They start below $30k, they both have leather, and they both come from a premium brand. Well, the Buick Rega does. The Volkswagen C comes from the German version of Chevrolet (at least, that’s what they want us to think).
Somehow, Buick survived when the S.S. General Motors sank on Lake Erie back in 2009. Clinging to a Lucerne, I mean life preserver, Buick floated back to shore, and committed itself to resurrecting the once mighty Buick name. Our grandparents can remember when a “Buick” had the same snob-appeal as a “Lexus” or an “Audi” does today. But in order to reclaim such lofty social status, Buick needed to distance itself from those cheap, retirement-shuttles that it had become known for. Drawing from its dwindling international resources, the ‘new’ GM decided to take an Opel Insignia, and slap a Buick badge on it. That way, the sleepy American brand would have a German-grade car…to compete against the Germans with.
Down the road in Wolfsburg, VW decided to go after the American market using a trendy “4-door Coupe”. Called the CC (Comfort Coupe), their Passat-based “premium sedan” has all of the touchscreen, ambient-lit luxury that you’ll find in the Regal, wrapped in a stylish German package that would make David Hasselhoff proud.
2011 Buick Regal
Designed to compete in the same class as the Audi A4, and Infinity G35, the new Regal has the look & feel of a “world car”. It’s stylish, without being offensive, and it comes with a boat-load of equipment, that would cost thousands more on its competition. Since it’s built in Germany (it’ll eventually be built in Canada too), it has distinctly European handling characteristics, along with impressive build & material quality. This car is Nothing like your aunt Dottie’s velour-upholstered LeSabre. This Buick actually feels like a luxury car.
Under the hood, you can choose from a 182-hp 2.4 liter 4-pot (19 city / 30 hwy / 23 combined), or a much more entertaining 2.0 liter with a turbo and direct injection. The turbo produces 220-hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (18 city / 28 hwy / 22 combined), and it can be mated to a 6-speed manual, or a 6-speed automatic with “driver shift control”. The turbo-4 is the top engine, but it’s not too bad. It’s got nearly the power of a V6, and that’s more than enough ‘oomph’ for your average Regal buyer. After all, most Buick customers are college educated, so it’s not like they’re not going to mistake a Buick dealership for a BMW store.
Regal buyers can choose from an impressive list of options including an adjustable suspension, a ginormous touchscreen with Navigation, a Harmon Kardon sound system and integrated blueteeth / hard drives. And of course, there’s the ambiguous ambient lighting and Bi-Xenon headlights too. Overall, the new Regal is quite impressive…for a Buick.
2011 Volkswagen CC
While the Germans may think that David Hasselhoff is a good singer, don’t hold that against them. You see, the rules of what makes a proper luxury car still come from Germany. Mercedes decides which new features are important, BMW decides the standards for handling, and Audi comes up with the standards for luxury car interiors. If you want a luxury car that has passion and soul, then you’re gonna have to talk to the Brits, or the Italians. But your brother-in-law better be a mechanic…
No, If you want luxury and a modicum of reliability, it’s come from Germany. And one of the biggest players in the luxury game is good ole’ Volkswagen. Though the “people’s car” company isn’t known for making full-on luxury cars, they do own Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and of course, Audi. So if they put their minds to it, they can crank out a pretty nice car. And that’s just what the 2011 Volkswagen CC is, a nice car.
Sure, the CC wears an ever-so-sheik 4-door coupe body, with suave lines, and frameless windows. And yes, the interior may have been lifted straight from the Modern Art Museum in Frankfurt. But, it’s still just a big Volkswagen with a name that sounds like a size of watch battery.
Remember the ill-fated VW Phaeton? Of course you don’t. The Phaeton was a brilliant luxury car, that wound up donating its engine and chassis for the Bentley Continental. But VW couldn’t market itself away from its “people’s car” image, and establish itself as a serious luxury brand. As a result, nobody took the car seriously. So, it’s no longer sold here. And that’s the problem with the CC. It IS an entry-level luxury car, but it ISN’T going to help your reputation, or your parking lot social-status. But if you can get past the image (or lack there-of), then you might find that the 2011 CC is actually a pretty nice “personal luxury” car.
The CC comes with all the usual luxury features that you’d expect to find on the District Manager’s new car. There’s a big touchscreen infotainment system, complete with Satellite radio & integrated blueteeth. Ambient lighting, leather-wrapped touch-points, and climate control with pollen filtration. The options list includes things like AWD, a-million-way power seats, two-tone leather (worth the money if style is important to you), and a rear backup camera.
Power is fed to the front wheels from a 2.0 liter turbo-four, producing 200-hp & 207 ft-lbs of torque. With the 6-speed DSG auto, the 4-pot CC can achieve 22 city / 31 hwy / 25 combined. Opt for the VR6 4Motion, and you get all-wheel drive, along with a 3.6 liter V6 belting out 280-hp & 265 lb-ft torque (17/25/20). The VR6 is more of a driver’s car, but the standard CC is sure to make any newly-promoted middle manager very happy indeed.
Regal vs. CC Comparison Table
|Specifications||2011 Buick Regal||2011 Volkswagen CC|
|CYLINDERS||4 inline||4 inline|
|DRIVE-TYPE||Front wheel drive||Front wheel drive|
|AVERAGE FUEL USAGE||23.0 mpg||26.0 mpg|
|POWER||220 hp||200 hp|
|TORQUE||258 ft-lbs.||207 ft-lbs.|