In March 2017, when the vehicle was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen Head Designer Klaus Bischoff said of the then-all-new VW Arteon, "The Arteon combines the design elements of a classic sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback. It’s an avant-garde business-class Gran Turismo that speaks to the heart and head alike."
The new Arteon—VW’s top model. (Images: VW)
And now in 2020, a year when the Geneva Motor Show, like many others, didn’t occur, Volkswagen is back with an updated version of its top-of-the-line sedan.
Although several OEMs have de-emphasized (in some cases, to near-non-existence) midsize sedans, VW still thinks there is a business case to be made for them, even though the company reckons that if the number sold in 2020 (as in a “normal” 2020, not a “COVID” 2020) will be 1,576,511 and will dip 25% to 1,179,885 by 2024. Still, not a trivial number of vehicles.
Although one might think of the cars that VW proffers in the context of a Passat or Golf, the Arteon is decidedly more upscale for the company, as the competitors that it is positioning the sedan against are the Infiniti Q50, Acura TLX, Kia Stinger and Nissan Maxima, so either lux(ish) brands or the top models for mainstream brands.
Hatch-like roofline provides reasonable cargo capacity.
And again going to the numbers, this is a (normal) 2020 total of 377,350 for the competitive set, which is going to drip to 269,010 by 2024.
So why bother? To have a halo.
Let’s face it: there is something to be said for a sporty vehicle as being a halo rather than, say, an SUV, and while VW is certainly assiduously pursuing development in that space, cars still have presence.
(An interesting SUV-related fact: the cargo space behind the second row of a 2020 VW Tiguan 2.0T FWD is 33 cubic feet. The cargo space behind the rear seat in the Arteon is 27 cubic feet. So the Arteon combines still with a soupcon of utility.)
As in the current generation, there are three trim levels—SE, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium R-Line. The first is FWD. The second is FWD with an AWD option.
The powertrain for all three is the same: a 268-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI engine and eight-speed automatic.
For the exterior there are some changes to distinguish the SE from the R-Lines, such as the R-Lines, which are sportier, having a LED light strip across the middle of the grille, tucking up into the fenders. The SE has a chrome bar just above the spoiler on the front end of the vehicle.
High-quality materials used for the interior.
The interior has a variety of improvements, ranging from a redesigned steering wheel with capacitive controls to sculptural air vents, from higher-grade materials (including an imitation stitched leather) to a 30-color ambient lighting system.
The tech includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the VW MIB3 modular infotainment kit, and a configurable digital gauge cluster.
For all of 2019 in the U.S. VW sold 2,449 Arteons. Know that this is a global car. In other parts of the world there will be a “Shooting Brake” (a.k.a., station wagon version) of the Arteon available, as well. That will not be coming to the U.S. One would imagine that if there was any way to boost sales—as in a model variant—for the Arteon VW would do it. Wagons just don’t matter in this market.
Making improvements to existing engines, as well as working toward something entirely different.
Honda is an engine company.
The thing about the Wrangler Willys Wheeler: It is a toy for a grown-up boy.