But will this swoopy sedan be Volkswagen's savior?
Forget Dieselgate. Even before Volkswagen got popped for playing fast and loose with US emissions law, its numerous attempts to interest American buyers—the decontented Jetta, the "Americanized" Passat—all fell on deaf ears. VW, it seemed, was doomed to forever misread the hearts and minds of Americans. That may change with the Atlas crossover, but Volkswagen can't rely on just one model to carry it into the future. So how does VW follow up its star family hauler? With this: the stunning, svelte, 2019 Volkswagen Arteon.
Unlike the Atlas, the all-new Arteon won't be playing in a segment overflowing with potential buyers, but this mid-sizer's ingredients at least give it a chance at success. Volkswagen's new coupe-ified sedan sits atop the same Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform used by other various models in VW's corporate stable. And thanks to MQB, Arteon's proportions better befit its grand-tourer mission versus those of its predecessor—the sales boat-anchor Volkswagen CC. The new platform has also allowed Volkswagen engineers to stretch Arteon's wheelbase 5 inches in comparison to the CC, providing a solid base for a smoother, more comfortable ride.
Lurking beneath the Arteon's hood sits a 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine—a common sight in modern VWs—as the sole available motivator. Tuned for the Arteon, however, the 2.0T chucks out 268 horsepower—33 more than the identically sized mill found in the much-larger Atlas and scarily similar to the power produced by the previous-generation Golf R. Unfortunately, that power gain doesn't come with an associated boost in torque, which remains the same as the Atlas 2.0T at 258 lb-ft. Handling cog swapping duties is an eight-speed automatic transmission supplied by ZF, which can send power to the front or all four wheels via Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
Arteon is big, but that doesn't mean it can't handle itself when the road ahead becomes less than straight. Keeping everything planted is the job of Volkswagen's Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive dynamic damping system borrowed from the GTI, which irons out wrinkled pavement without giving up grip. On the outside, Arteon's fastback roofline and chiseled facial features are paired as standard with LED lamps at all four corners, 18-inch alloy rounders (19 inchers are available), a smattering of chrome, and a grille that'll make plankton quiver in fear. But if you're a serious Arteon intender, it's what's inside that truly counts.
Sitting pretty in the Arteon's dash is a 8-inch piece of touchscreen real estate dedicated to Volkswagen's Car-Net infotainment system with expected support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. Those looking for Fender badges affixed to Arteon's speaker grilles will be out of luck, as the upgraded audio option is a Dynaudio-only affair. You won't find a Beats by Dre option here, either, like you will in the new Jetta—but that's for the best unless you seriously crave a Basswagen. (Trust us: You don't, and your neighbors will thank you.) Another screen in front of the driver is devoted to Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, a configurable display that replaces the traditional instrument-panel dials with computer-powered pixels.
No amount of technology matters unless you're comfortable while riding in style. Arteon comes standard with tri-zone automatic climate control and heated leatherette-wrapped thrones for your rump's pleasure. Other features—such as ventilated seats, a massaging driver's seat (surely to make passengers jealous), real Nappa leather, heated rear seats, and a panoramic sunroof—are available if you're willing to be parted from some extra cash. Safety is the new hallmark of luxury, and safety technology is developing at a rapid pace. Playing to the segment, Arteon also comes with a whole host of electronic wizardry to keep you safe.
Regardless of trim, Arteon is equipped with a rearview camera, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Those seeking an extra layer of safety can option their Arteon with adaptive cruise control (which works in stop-and-go traffic), lane departure warning with assist, high beam control, Park Assist with Park Distance Control, and a 360-degree camera system. When it arrives in the U.S., Arteon will be offered in three trim levels—SE, SEL, and SEL Premium—but you'll need to wait a few months before they begin arriving at dealers. Expect first deliveries in the third quarter of 2018. Pricing has not yet been announced.