Phaeton's Realistic Son: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon Wants Your Premium Dollars

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
phaetons realistic son 2018 volkswagen arteon wants your premium dollars

Let’s face it, the Volkswagen CC was just a tarted-up Passat and the ultra-lux Phaeton was a colossal dud that bit the dust in the same manner in which it lived: without anyone noticing.

With scads of room to fill at the top of its lineup, VW has decided that the CC should make way for a true premium sedan, one with a swoopy Germanic roofline and up-to-date architecture. (And ideally saddled with a hard-to-remember name). With the 2018 Arteon, unveiled today ahead of the Geneva Motor Show, the automaker finally has what it needs. But is it what premium sedan buyers want?

Call it what you want — a sedan, four-door coupe, five-door hatch or four-door fastback — the Arteon will serve as the brand’s flagship in a very competitive market. Its Teutonic rivals remain entrenched as the go-to brands for European luxury, with Volvo and Jaguar only too happy to offer up four-doors to executive-class buyers.

VW optimistically sees the Arteon as a mix of everything a premium buyers wants.

“The Arteon combines the design elements of a classic sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback,” said head designer Klaus Bischoff in a statement. “It’s an avant-garde business-class Gran Turismo that speaks to the heart and head alike.”

Built atop VW’s modular MQB platform, the Arteon’s strong character line, bulging rear fenders and gracefully sloping roofline endows it with proportions its awkward predecessor could only dream of. That visual muscularity could distract from the fact that the Arteon is, dimension-wise, quite similar to the Passat.

With a wheelbase of 111.9 inches, VW’s new addition stretches just 1.5 inches longer between the axles than its lesser stablemate. Overall length actually undercuts the Passat’s by half an inch. Width, however, tops the Passat by 1.5 inches.

Up front, the Arteon sports more grille than we’re used to seeing on a VW passenger car. However, one design element that reeks of another brand can be seen just above the front wheel wells. The Arteon’s hood, which wraps around the fenders, is a dead ringer for the Audi TT’s. Overall, it seems VW really didn’t want its sister brand to have all the premium fun.

As for lighting, it’s LEDs all around, with heated washer jets offered in uplevel Elegance and R-Line trims. Besides a myriad of standard creature comforts and conveniences, including a new Discover Pro infotainment system and 9.2-inch glass screen, the Arteon outranks loaded Passats in another category: cargo space.

The liftback design allows for 19.9 cubic feet of groceries behind the rear seats, or 55 cubic feet of volume with those seats folded.

Powering the new model is a laundry list of gas and diesel four-cylinder engines, which American buyers will see few of. Recent history tells us to ditch any hope for a diesel variant, though VW’s 276-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four is a shoe-in, with the possibility of a 188 hp TSI 2.0-liter as the entry-level engine. There’s reason to believe that VW might shoehorn a V6 powerplant into the Arteon at some point in the future, but for now, it’s off the menu.

Connecting that four-cylinder fury to either the front or all four wheels is a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. The Europeans, of course, will see a six-speed manual available in several powertrain combinations, but we’ll have to wait and see if VW is willing to court that increasingly tiny American niche market.

The Arteon should hit German dealer lots in mid-June. A U.S. introduction date hasn’t been announced.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Mar 07, 2017

    If Hyundai can build Genesis cars, why not this?

  • Whatnext Whatnext on Mar 07, 2017

    As the proud owner of one of the last CCs brought into Canada, I'm glad they are continuing in this segment. I've had more compliments from strangers on the CC than anything I've owned before, but most have never heard of the nondescript name. The car feels very solid and the TSI 4 is largely unobtrusive with enough oomph to move a fairly heavy VW.

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.