Sunday, April 8, 2018

Arteon For Arteon's Sake

Several months ago I promised to look at Volkswagen's new four-door coupe, the Arteon.  And because I'm sick and tired of commenting on the dysfunction coming out of Washington, now is the perfect time to do it.
Let's do it. 
Due to go on sale later this year, the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon replaces the CC in the brand's lineup, offering the room and comfort of a Passat in a much more stylish package.  The chiseled shape of the LED headlights blending into the grille immediately makes it clear that this is not your father's Dasher, and the aggressive wheel rims look like they're ready to tackle any road.  As elegant and refined as the Arteon looks, it has a very basic and utilitarian feature - a rear hatch, which lifts up high and provides for the sort of versatility normally found in the Golf and its many imitators.  I've always found hatchbacks on touring cars to be oxymoronic, not very classy, but here I'm willing to make an exception.  Very much so.  In fact, the hatch is the most interesting part of the Arteon - it has an integrated spoiler.

The Arteon features a two-liter TSI turbo four that produces 268 horsepower - impressive for such a small engine in such a large car - mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with an optional all-wheel-drive system.  Its suspension can be tuned to provide two different rides, Sport and Comfort, respectively allowing sporty driving on twisting, turning roads or a nice relaxing ride on ling-distance interstate highway trips.  Inside, there's lot of technological goodies, such as a touchscreen entertainment system that plays radio stations and downloaded music through eleven speakers, via a 700-watt sound system.  Sorry, no CD player (of course!).  And if you're into analog read-outs, I have bad news for you . . . the dashboard controls are all digital.  But you do get massaging front seats!

All heady stuff from the last mainstream European auto brand that still sells mass-market cars in America, but Klaus Bischoff, head of design for the Volkswagen brand, thinks there's a market for this car.  "The Arteon combines the design elements of a traditional sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback," he says. "It’s an avant-garde business class gran turismo that speaks to the heart and the head alike." 
As soon as I realized that Bischoff, a German, peppered his English-language statement with French and Italian phrases, I knew he was serious.  Because the Arteon is a very international car, aimed primarily at, of all people, the Chinese, who are known to love long-wheelbase cars with a low-slung, lean look.  But it could also appeal to Americans, since it has a sophisticated, Teutonic feel to it that many VW diehards find lacking in the Tennessee-built NMS (New Midsize Sedan) Passat.  The fastback design is more intriguing than the Passat's conventional profile, so much that people in These States will forgive the large hatch door reminding them that the Arteon could do double duty hauling two-by-fours.
Not that prospective Arteon buyer would be transporting any two-by-fours . . .
Oh yeah, the price.  It comes in at an average of $38,000.  Not cheap, but over-the-top expensive like the similar $69,700 Audi A7.  That's why the Arteon is a people's car and the A7 ain't.  That said, I can't afford an Arteon.  However, I approve of this CC replacement, if only because it shows that Volkswagen is still committed to offering traditional passenger cars in this country with a strong German heritage, despite all of the emphasis on American-style SUVs these days.  It's because of all of those Atlases and Tiguans that VW is able to offer more cars like the Arteon.  
And it's certainly nicer than the NMS Passat.   
No sale date has been announced for the Arteon, as far as I know.

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