What do you think of when you hear the name Volkswagen. Ask your friends or family and you’ll hear them say things like a “Beetle”or a “Jetta”. Your smart ass uncle will undoubtedly mention “diesel gate”. I’m not even going there. Your cool 27 year old cousin will mention the ultimate hot hatch “Golf GTI” or even the “Gold R”. But I doubt anyone would say the Volkswagen Phaeton. Do you remember the Phaeton. That was Volkswagen’s failed but valiant attempt at trying to enter the luxury market. If you had a chance to drive that car you would’ve wondered why it didn’t sell more than it did. It was a solid built, well equipped luxury full size sedan.
As a car enthusiast, I’m very happy to see that VW did not throw in the towel and go back to pumping out Jettas and Golf’s to continue the brands revenue stream. They have continuously kept improving and quietly producing some good quality vehicles.
For 2019 VW seems to have gone ‘all in’ on another attempt at trying to enter the heavily populated luxury sedan segment.
Introducing the Arteon, pronounced “ar-tee-on”
And yes it will take some time to get used to the name, as it did for me with the Toureg, Tiguan and Phaeton.
One of only two models in the 2019 VW line up that will be assembled and shipped directly out of Germany. The other being the Golf R.
Wider and longer than the outgoing forgotten about Passat CC which it is replacing, and a little shorter and smaller in size than the Phaeton of the early 2000’s.
We had a chance to test drive the R trim which was equipped with a detuned version of the fabulous Golf R 2.0 litre inline four cylinder engine. Pumping out 268hp and a healthy 258 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via VW’s front bias four motion all wheel drive system and boasts 19 inch wheels mated to an eight speed automatic transmission.
Lower end models will come standard with front wheel drive and 18 inch wheels providing a comfier ride for those seeking for a more supple drive.
The car drives silky smooth and had great low end pull meaning you won’t be left behind by any means when the light turns green, nor will you need to thrust the gas pedal thru the floor should you need to pass a car on the highway. If you have a family and are wondering if the car will have the same pull when you have a couple of passengers and some baggage or groceries in the massive trunk.
I can tell you that I had the owner of Swagger magazine and the director of VW marketing in the car during my drive and I felt no turbo lag or any sluggishness from the engine.
The cabin is very quiet, the perforated leather seats were also very comfortable.
If you’ve driven any Volkswagen vehicle post 2015 you will quickly recognize the VW DNA in this vehicle. You will find similar and easy to use steering wheel mounted controls as you would in a golf GTI or Atlas. As you would with the push button start, drive mode selector (DCT) and other details.
VW introduces it’s new digital cockpit which replaced the main instrument panel with a configurable display (on the executive and R trim levels).
The dashboard layout and the digital graphics fall soft on the eyes and operate very smoothly. You have the option of choosing what content to display in between the speedometer and RPM gauge such as speed, fuel consumption or what I imagine to be everyone’s favourite, the navigation feature. Similar to some new Audi models.
Looking at the car from the outside, it is – at least in the R trim – a very sharp looking sedan. It sits low and wide and the grille isn’t jumping out at you trying to steal your attention. This may be one of the nicest looking sedans in its segment. Volkswagen hopes to gain some consumer attention that would generally lean towards other sedans such as the new Honda Accord or Kia Stinger to name a couple.
Pricing details were not available at the time of this story but expect the base price to start around $36,000 USD / $47,995 CAD which is around how much a Volkswagen Passat CC comes in at. Expect the R trim to be around the 40k mark and the completely loaded Executive model should top out around the 44k price tag.
As strategic business moves go, corporations usually either pump money into slow revenue generating business if they see a potential to revive an old revenue stream… or they decide to cut their losses and shut down projects. See restaurant chains for example. Not so different in this case.
The company did away with the slow selling Toureg SUV and rolled the dice on the Atlas crossover. That has proven to be a successful wager returning good sales numbers.
For the 2019 model year, they’ve decided to cut out the slow selling Passat CC and are rolling the dice with the Arteon.
Will the Arteon steal buyers that are badge imprisoned to luxury German brands? I doubt it. And VW isn’t expecting Accord or Camry sales numbers with this car either. But what this car represents is something totally different for Volkswagen. They are not looking to this car to gain the popularity of a 3 series. And something tells me the person that chooses to spend their money on the Areton is banking on the fact that they won’t see one on every corner.
Only time will tell how you the consumer will receive VW’s latest offering.
Check out this cool video by Volkswagen Canada showcasing their Scott Froschauer’s Arteon installation at the Toronto Museum of Contemporary Art.