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2018 Volkswagen Arteon: An Elegant Replacement for the CC
For those who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Passat.
What It Is: A stylish four-door hatchback replacement for the aged Volkswagen CC. If its name is a portmanteau, we take it to mean art for the ages.
Why It Matters: The Arteon is to the car side of VW’s showrooms what the Atlas is to the truck side: a new flagship responsible for accelerating the brand’s return to relevance.
Platform: VW’s ubiquitous MQB transverse-powertrain components, set up for sedan use.
Powertrain: A turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter inline-four packing 270 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque (substantial increases over the outgoing CC’s turbocharged 2.0-liter) with an Aisin eight-speed automatic transaxle sending output to the front wheels. VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive will likely be optional.
Competition: Acura TLX, Audi A4, BMW 320i, Buick Regal, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo S60.
What Might Go Wrong: Given the importance of this model to VW’s global fortunes and how well it performed in prototype test drives, we see minimal chance of derailment.
Estimated Arrival and Price: The Arteon made its official debut in March at the Geneva auto show and will arrive in the U.S. this summer with an estimated $37,000 base price.
2019 Volkswagen Arteon
Not another carbon copy.
As American buyers continue to snap up a veritable deluge of new crossovers, it seems that a car company would have to be either clueless or desperate to introduce an all-new sedan, especially into a niche like the one that the Volkswagen Arteon will occupy. Alas, VW’s U.S. operation is struggling to sell a dated lineup while trying to make everyone forget Dieselgate. The stylish Arteon will do little to address these problems—that’s the job of the Atlas and the Tiguan, VW’s dynamic duo of new crossovers—but at least when the Arteon replaces the CC a year from now, it will give VW customers something to gawk at in the showroom while they wait on the F&I guy.
The Arteon’s best face is quite literally that: a coupelike mug that looks as if it could grace a new Scirocco rather than a largish sedan to sit above the Passat in VW’s lineup. The Arteon’s hood is ridiculously low for such a car, rising to just below the waist for its projected average buyer, a 53-year-old college-educated man, according to VW. And it’s actually a clamshell hood, stretching as it does from one side of the 73.7-inch-wide car to the other. The rest of the Arteon’s four-door “coupe” styling eschews the sleek look of the old CC for a tough, fastback design with fat haunches and a quasi Kamm-tail hatchback.
When Volkswagen launched the Passat CC back in 2008, pseudo coupes were on the bleeding edge of automotive fashion, and VW seemed to have its finger on the pulse of public desire. Sales in the U.S. were brisk, rising to nearly 30,000 units annually by 2011, but after a mid-cycle refresh for 2013, sales fell off a cliff, dropping to just over 3000 in 2016. To make matters worse, German VW officials told us that they felt the CC did not achieve enough conquest sales, at least not as much as it cannibalized Passat buyers.
So the Arteon takes a dramatic step beyond both the CC and the Passat, not only in styling but in size. The wheelbase is stretched to 111.7 inches, more than an inch longer than the Passat’s and five inches longer than the CC’s. This allows for a rear seat that’s exceptionally roomy, so long as you have no plans to use the middle spot. Leg- and elbowroom are plentiful, and tall passengers should be able to ride in the back without bumping against the headliner. Interior accoutrements are similar to those in the new Atlas, with high-quality materials and a functional, if conservative, design that looks nice while stopping short of treading into Audi’s luxury territory. The luggage compartment sinks deep under the hatch and is roomy enough to accommodate a full-size set of golf clubs diagonally, while a low lift-over height reinforces a practical benefit of the inherently lower center of gravity of a car versus a crossover.