Comparison Test: 2009 Mazda 6 vs. 2009 Volkswagen CC

2009 Volkswagen CC Sedan

(2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Manual)
  • 2009 Mazda 6 vs. 2009 Volkswagen CC Comparison Test Video

    The Mazda 6 vs Volkswagen CC Comparison Test video shows a pair of sedans that prove family transport doesn't have to be dull. | October 01, 2009

1 Video , 52 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • Top 8 Features
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation
  • 2009 Mazda Mazda6 Specs and Performance
  • 2009 Volkswagen CC Specs and Performance

Sexing Up the Efficient Four-Cylinder Midsize Sedan

Four-door coupes are a state of mind, not a state of reality. The four-passenger 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport is no more a four-door coupe than a conventional five-seat sedan like the 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring. Yet both of these midsize sedans are cool in a way that normally eludes front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder family sedans.

We think this has more to do with how the Mazda 6 and VW CC look than how they drive. That's not to say that they don't handle crisply or ride smoothly or accelerate predictably. They do all of that. But nothing that happens in the cockpit is quite so striking as the Volkswagen CC's continuously curvy roof line or the Mazda 6's cat-eye headlamps and bulging fenders.

Style, not performance, is what defines the 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring and 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport. And if you're realistic about the kind of life a $30,000 commuter car is supposed to lead, you'll be OK with this compromise.

Almost Nobody Buys a V6
Of course, we could have injected a lot more performance into this test simply by choosing a Mazda 6 s Grand Touring with the 272-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and a Volkswagen CC VR6 Sport with the 280-hp 3.6-liter V6. A V6-equipped Mazda 6 hits 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds (6.1 with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip), and a V6 VW CC will go there in 6.6 seconds.

That's quick, but most of you don't care about winning entrance-ramp drag races in a front-wheel-drive midsize sedan. Mazda tells us that 73 percent of 2009 Mazda 6 buyers get the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 170 hp at 6,000 rpm (168 hp in this PZEV test car) and 167 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm (166 lb-ft in PZEV form).

Volkswagen hasn't sold enough CCs to give us any definitive answers about the engine preferences of buyers, but since the VR6 model is priced far upmarket at $39,450, we'd guess at least 90 percent of 2009 Volkswagen CCs sold in the U.S. will have the turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter inline-4. It's rated at 200 hp from 5,100-6,000 rpm and 207 lb-ft of torque from 1,700-5,000 rpm.

You can have a six-speed manual gearbox on either car, but since we're dealing in practical realities here, our 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring has the optional five-speed automatic transmission and the 2009 VW CC Sport has the optional six-speed automatic.

Guess Who's More Affordable
Even with more power and an extra forward gear, the 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport is actually the cheaper of these two cars at $29,325. The catch is that while the Sport trim level has a livable amount of standard equipment, options are very few.

A clean, two-tone cabin makes the CC feel like a luxury car, though. Both front seats have full power adjustments, and the standard leatherette upholstery is as nice as most real leather in this price range. But start looking for amenities like a keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, a navigation system or even a moonroof, and you simply won't find them.

For $915 more, our $30,240 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring tester has all of the above, along with xenon headlights, a blind-spot monitoring system, leather seats and attractive simulated wood trim.

The presentation doesn't feel as elegant as the VW's, especially if you get hung up on the Mazda's lower-grade cabin trim and slightly larger gap tolerances. But there are more passenger-oriented convenience features here. And because the Mazda 6 has a longer wheelbase (109.8 inches versus 106.7), a wider track (62.8 inches versus 61.4) and no designs on being a coupe, its backseat is more useful, too.

Near-Luxury Adjacent
But we're not penalizing the 2009 Volkswagen CC for its two-passenger backseat, because that's the very point of this car. The CC gives you a chance to buy something as stylish as the Mercedes-Benz CLS at less than half the price. If you want a normal three-passenger backseat, get a Passat, OK?

When it's driven during the commute hour, the VW CC lulls you into believing you really are in a luxury car. It rides exactly as you'd hope a midsize sedan would ride, heaping on the comfort over the rough patches while still offering the firm control associated with European engineering. Even with frameless windows, wind noise is minimal and the CC's 235/45R17 94H Continental ContiProContact all-season tires get noisy only over rain-grooved sections of highway.

Exiting the freeway, though, you realize this isn't quite a premium-brand experience. Brake pedal feel is soft, and the lack of immediate response is bothersome even around town. And when you shut off the car, those frameless windows reseal with a jarring thuunk instead of the pleasing, Benz-like whoosh.

In contrast, the 2009 Mazda 6 doesn't try so hard to justify itself as an indulgence. It rides more firmly, sacrificing some of the VW's plushness in favor of a little more road feel. Its skinnier P215/55R17 93V Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 all-season tires rumble plenty over most surfaces, though we'd guess Mazda has also used less sound-deadening material to keep weight and cost at bay in this significantly larger car.

Still, the Volkswagen would be lucky to have the Mazda's brakes, which respond in far more linear fashion as you push through the pedal travel. And because the 6 has a traditional hydraulic power steering pump, there's life to its steering that can't be felt in the 2009 VW CC's electric power steering (EPS).

Quicker VW
End the story here and we'd all drive off in the honest Mazda. But there's one big difference between the Volkswagen CC Sport and the Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: You feel it every time you step out for a passing maneuver.

The torque curve of the VW's engine is as flat as a tabletop. You'll never crave the sound of this direct-injected 2.0-liter turbo, but you'll never find it lacking in vigor or smoothness. In addition, the VW's six-speed automatic is on its game with downshifts, particularly in Sport mode.

Highway travel in the Mazda 6 i is considerably less relaxing. The normally aspirated 2.5-liter engine has little in the way of torque below 4,000 rpm. Moreover, this is not an especially free-revving four-cylinder, so you feel like you're working the engine hard in passing situations — even if the soundtrack isn't altogether unpleasant. The five-speed automatic dutifully holds lower gears when needed (very often), but lacking a Sport mode, it sometimes takes a little longer to get to that gear than we'd like.

This five-speed is also slower to upshift in manual mode, which only piles on the hurt at our instrumented testing facility, where the 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring takes 9.4 seconds to reach 60 mph (9.0 with 1 foot of rollout). It goes through the quarter-mile in 16.9 seconds at 83.2 mph.

Meanwhile, the 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport is as quick as some six-cylinder family sedans, with a 0-60-mph time of 7.3 seconds (7.0 with rollout) and a respectable 15.2-second quarter-mile at 92 mph.

More Fuel-Efficient Mazda
As hard as the Mazda has to work, though, it still returns better fuel economy. The EPA rates an automatic-equipped 2009 Mazda 6 i at 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway versus 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway for an automatic-equipped 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport. Notably, the automatic is the more efficient transmission on the Mazda, while the VW does better with the manual.

But why believe the Environmental Protection Agency when you can consult Inside Line? We take the Mazda 6 and the Volkswagen CC on a 222-mile loop with an even mix of city and highway driving. A single editor refuels the cars at the very same pump at the start and finish of the loop, and there's a driver change at the halfway mark to minimize variation in driving style. Full throttle is a no-no, and climate control systems are set to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or as close to that as we can get with the VW's simple manual settings for the A/C).

The Mazda 6 wins easily, returning 27.8 mpg to the VW CC's 26.1 mpg.

The Dynamics of Ordinary Cars
It's harder to draw a line between the 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport and the 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring on a back road. Understeer and body roll are never far off in these midsize front-drivers, but at a moderate pace, both are comfortable going through high-speed sweepers and both look attractive doing it.

Certainly, the Mazda 6 feels slower coming out of corners. After an hour, though, it's the car to be in because its brakes haven't cooked. This is also true at our test track. The 6 ends up with only a 1-foot advantage in the 60-0-mph test — 122 feet versus 123 feet — but unlike the VW, it shows no fade in successive stops.

A 64.1-mph slalom speed gives the four-cylinder Mazda 6 an edge through the cones, too, but since the CC's stability control system is undefeatable, the car is possibly capable of better than 63.5 mph. Oddly, the VW's stability control doesn't interfere on the skid pad, where the CC (with its wider tires) runs a 0.82g to the Mazda's 0.79g.

My Midsize Sedan Is Left of Center
You know the 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport is quicker. And you know the 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring has better brakes and steering. But you can't judge these cars on their driving dynamics. You have to love their style.

And if you press us, we'll tell you we prefer the style of the VW CC. On the outside, it's the most distinctive four-door anything in this price range. On the inside, it's only a step or two away from being a true luxury sedan.

Nevertheless, the Mazda 6 squeezes out a 1.6-point victory in this test, even though its contoured bodywork doesn't come together with the CC's striking cohesion. From its gigantic backseat to its more generous equipment list, the Mazda 6 is the more useful of these two sedans. And as lovely as the Volkswagen CC is, maybe it's irrational to think that beauty could ever be more important than everyday practicality in a car with four doors.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Just $915 separates the 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport ($29,325) from the 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring ($30,240). Once you start comparing equipment lists, however, the differences become more dramatic. A lot more comes standard on the Mazda, and its options list is longer to boot.

Features

Features
2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport
Blind-spot monitoring system S N/A
Bluetooth S O*
Dual-zone climate control S N/A
HID xenon headlights S N/A
Keyless ignition S N/A
Navigation system O N/A
Power-adjustable front seats S S
Satellite radio O O

Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional
N/A: Not Available

Blind-spot monitoring system: As blind-spot monitoring systems go, the one on the Mazda 6 i Grand Touring is one of the least annoying of its kind. Simple LED projections on the outside mirrors let you know if another car (or a guardrail) has entered your blind spot, and if you signal a lane change into that object, you get an audible warning. Other systems provide more sophisticated intervention, but as is, this standard safety feature (which you can easily disable) is a simple solution to inevitable driver distraction.

Bluetooth: Hands-free phone use is fast becoming the law of the land, and we find in-car interfaces easier to use than headsets. It's standard on the Mazda 6 and optional on the Volkswagen CC.

Dual-zone climate control: The VW's manual air-conditioning is simple enough, but if you want to keep your passenger happy, discrete dual-zone control is better.

HID xenon headlights: Standard on the Mazda 6 i Grand Touring but unavailable on the VW CC Sport (bi-xenons are standard on VR6 models only), HIDs make nighttime driving safer and more relaxing.

Keyless ignition: Walk up, open the door, press the start button and go. No fumbling with keys at all. This is how life will be for every 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring owner. If you have a Volkswagen CC, you're out of luck regardless of trim level.

Navigation system: Aftermarket units are popular, but there's nothing like a navigation unit integrated into the dash.

Power-adjustable front seats: Power adjustments for both driver and passenger are standard in both cars. But the VW's setup is a little better, as it offers both dual height and lumbar adjustment.

Satellite radio: For as long as Sirius XM remains in business, satellite radio will remain a sanity saver on long trips, particularly with the XM MLB package.

Final Rankings

Final Rankings
Item Weight 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport
Personal Rating 2.5% 50.0 100.0
Recommended Rating 2.5% 62.5 87.5
Evaluation Score 20% 74.9 78.0
Feature Content 15% 91.7 25.0
Performance 20% 67.9 98.7
Fuel Consumption 20% 100.0 95.7
Price 20% 96.9 100.0
Total Score 100.0% 84.5 82.9
Final Ranking 1 2

Personal Rating (2.5%): Purely subjective. After the test, each participating editor ranks the 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring and 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport in order of preference based on which he or she would buy if money were no object.

Recommended Rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor ranks the midsize sedans in order of preference based on which he thinks would be best for the average person shopping in this segment.

28-Point Evaluation (20%): Each participating editor scores the sedans based on a comprehensive 28-point evaluation. The evaluation covers everything from engine performance to rear-seat comfort. Scoring is calculated on a point system and subsequently averaged based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature Content (15%): For this category, the editors pick the top 8 features they think would be most beneficial to someone shopping for a four-cylinder midsize sedan priced around $30,000. For each car, the score is based on the amount of actual features it has versus the total possible (8). Standard and optional equipment are taken into consideration.

Performance Testing (20%): Both cars are put through a comprehensive battery of instrumented tests, including 0-60-mph acceleration, quarter-mile runs and panic stops from 60 mph. They are also run through a 600-foot slalom course to test transitional handling, and around a skid pad to determine ultimate grip. Each sedan is awarded points based on how close it comes to the better-performing car's score in each category.

Fuel Consumption (20%): The scores listed are the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the car with the higher EPA combined fuel-economy rating (55 percent city plus 45 percent highway). The more efficient 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring (24 mpg combined rating) received a score of 100, with the 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport (23 mpg combined) receiving a lesser score.

Price (20%): The numbers listed are the result of a simple percentage calculation. Using the "as tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the cheaper VW CC ($29,325) receives a score of 100, with the more expensive Mazda 6 ($30,240) receiving a lesser score.

Vehicle
Model year2009
MakeMazda
ModelMazda6
Stylei Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 5A)
Base MSRP$26,480
Options on test vehicleNavigation system ($2,000), Moonroof & Bose Audio Package ($1,760).
As-tested MSRP$30,240
Drivetrain
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Engine typeInline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,489cc (152 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft, variable intake valve timing, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio (x:1)9.7:1
Redline (rpm)6,200
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)170 @ 6,000 (168 @ 6,000 for this PZEV test car)
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)167 @ 4,000 (166 @ 4,000 for this PZEV test car)
Transmission type5-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I =3.620, II = 1.925, III = 1.285, IV = 0.933, V = 0.692, R = 3.405, Final Drive = 3.863
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeEngine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.2:1
Tire brandMichelin
Tire modelEnergy MXV4 S8
Tire typeAll-season
Tire size, frontP215/55R17 93V
Tire size, rearP215/55R17 93V
Wheel size17-by-7 inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast alloy
Brakes, front11.8-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brakes, rear11-inch solid disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)6.1 (6.2 traction control on)
0-60 mph (sec.)9.4 (9.4 traction control on)
0-75 mph (sec.)14.2 (14.2 traction control on)
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.9 @ 83.2 (17.0 @ 82.9 with traction control on)
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)9.0 (9.0 traction control on)
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)30
60-0 mph (ft.)122
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)64.1 (62.6 stability control on)
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.79
Sound level @ idle (dB)44
@ Full throttle (dB)70.9
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)68.7
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThis powertrain is truly outclassed relative to the one in the VW CC Sport tested the same day. Lacks grunt in many highway situations. Slow to leave the line and slow to upshift in Manual mode.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsSolid "effective" point means good confidence every stop. Non-ABS braking control is superior to the VW also.
Handling ratingGood
Handling commentsSlalom: Stability control can be fully disabled. Too much body roll and hard tires contribute to less control than I'd like in a Mazda. Skid pad: Front tires easily overwhelmed around skid pad. Tall sidewalls and body roll are a liability here. Steering communicates well, but I rarely like what it's saying.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)87.9
Wind (mph, direction)2.3 mph (crosswind)
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)21 city/30 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)24.9 (27.8 on 222-mile fuel economy test loop)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,309
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,385
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)60.2 / 39.8
Length (in.)193.7
Width (in.)72.4
Height (in.)57.9
Wheelbase (in.)109.8
Track, front (in.)62.8
Track, rear (in.)62.8
Turning circle (ft.)35.4
Legroom, front (in.)42.5
Legroom, rear (in.)38
Headroom, front (in.)39.4
Headroom, rear (in.)37.3
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.3
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.5
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)16.6
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance3 years/36,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsElectronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard
Emergency assistance systemBlind-spot warning system
NHTSA crash test, driver5 stars
NHTSA crash test, passenger5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side front5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side rear5 stars
NHTSA rollover resistance5 stars
Vehicle
Model year2009
MakeVolkswagen
ModelCC
StyleSport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Base MSRP$28,950
Options on test vehicleSatellite Radio ($375)
As-tested MSRP$29,325
Drivetrain
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Engine typeTurbocharged and direct-injected inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,984cc (121 cu-in)
Block/head materialCast iron/aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft, variable intake valve timing, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio (x:1)9.6:1
Redline (rpm)6,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)200 @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)207 @ 1,700-5,000 rpm
Transmission type6-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 4.04, II = 2.37, III = 1.56, IV = 1.16, V = 0.85, VI = 0.67, R = 3.19, Final Drive = 3.50
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent four-link, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.4:1
Tire brandContintental
Tire modelContiProContact
Tire typeAll-season
Tire size, front235/45R17 94H
Tire size, rear235/45R17 94H
Wheel size17-by-7.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast alloy
Brakes, front12.3-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brakes, rear11.0-inch solid disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)4.6 (5.0 traction control on)
0-60 mph (sec.)7.3 (7.7 traction control on)
0-75 mph (sec.)10.4 (10.9 traction control on)
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.2 @ 92.0 (15.4 @ 91.8 with traction control on)
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.0 (7.4 traction control on)
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)123
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)63.5 (undefeatable stability control)
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.82 (0.81 traction control on)
Sound level @ idle (dB)48.5
@ Full throttle (dB)73
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)67
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsNo real wheelspin even with traction control off. Better acceleration with mild brake torque. All runs with traction control off were made in the transmission's Sport mode.
Braking ratingAverage
Braking commentsSofter pedal than Mazda 6 i (tested the same day) offers less confidence and poorer modulation in sub-limit braking. Also, some pedal fade on the fourth run.
Handling ratingGood
Handling commentsSlalom: The inability to fully disable stability control is frustrating. Still, the CC has good manners, decent steering weight, and runs respectably through the cones. Skid pad: With traction control off, it's easy to exceed grip and understeer wide without any apparent intervention from the stability control system. Perhaps the system only intervenes in transitions or during oversteer.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)86.6
Wind (mph, direction)1.6 mph (crosswind)
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)19 city/29 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)22.4 (26.1 on 222-mile fuel economy test loop)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,374
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,362
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)59/41
Length (in.)188.9
Width (in.)73
Height (in.)55.8
Wheelbase (in.)106.7
Track, front (in.)61.1
Track, rear (in.)61.4
Turning circle (ft.)35.8
Legroom, front (in.)41.6
Legroom, rear (in.)37.3
Headroom, front (in.)37.4
Headroom, rear (in.)36.6
Shoulder room, front (in.)56
Shoulder room, rear (in.)54.7
Seating capacity4
Cargo volume (cu-ft)13
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion12 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance3 years/36,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenance3 years/36,000 miles
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBraking assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard
Emergency assistance systemNot available
NHTSA crash test, driver4 stars
NHTSA crash test, passenger4 stars
NHTSA crash test, side front5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side rear4 stars
NHTSA rollover resistance4 stars
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Volkswagen CC in VA is:

$121 per month*
* Explanation
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