By on March 6, 2017

2018 volkswagen arteon

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?

2018 volkswagen arteon

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.”

2018 volkswagen arteon

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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60 Comments on “Phaeton’s Realistic Son: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon Wants Your Premium Dollars...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “But is it what premium sedan buyers want?”

    No, they want crossovers.

  • avatar

    Damn, that looks really nice. Unfortunately, I’m sure it’ll be a nonstarter due to quasi-premium entry pricing just like the CC.

  • avatar

    Looks good, but can it really sell here with a 4-cylinder?

  • avatar

    I don’t understand why they keep trying to push VW upmarket when they already have Audi in that segment.

  • avatar

    The two new VW stores in town are both very attractive looking complexes. But I just don’t see Americans stopping there on the way to look at BMW, Merc, or Lexus.

  • avatar

    Other than the face which is a little weird and Citroen-y, it’s a good-looking car.

    Also, they should’ve named it the Aeraetaeon to really max out vowels in a strange order.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I was going to criticize the 4-cylinder-only offering, until I realized that less than 1% of the Passats for sale in the US have a V6.

    Not sure if this Arteon would be in the same market, but I’d rather go for a low-end Genesis G80.

  • avatar

    The choice of MQB and a transverse engine should result in class-leading interior space. That can be good for sales — just ask Toyota, which dominates the compact class with the otherwise uninspired Corolla because of a huge back seat.

    But I think sedan buyers in this price range are looking for something else: a fancy badge. There is not a single mainstream badge that has done well in recent years with a sedan in this price range.

    This would do fine as an Audi, except that it would take away buyers from the higher-margin A4.

    The front half of the car really reminds me of the new Continental, in a good way. Makers are figuring out some tricks to visually lengthen FWD architectures’ short hoods and minimize the long-overhang look. In general this is a very pretty sedan.

    • 0 avatar

      The Audi version is the four door A5 Sportback:

      • 0 avatar

        But the A5 Sportback is completely different car. That’s on the longitudinal MLB platform. Audi currently only has two cars in the transverse MQB platform: the TT and the A3.

        That will give the A5 Sportback with a more premium feel to how it drives than the Arteon… but not everybody cares about that, so maybe the Arteon will have a place.

      • 0 avatar

        Regardless of what platform this is on, and what platform the A5’s on, the VW isn’t going to steal any Audi sales.

        I don’t see the point.

    • 0 avatar

      ….But I think sedan buyers in this price range are looking for something else: a fancy badge….

      This. I don’t know why they keep trying these things, but they do. VW and the Phaeton, Hyundai with the Equus, Kia with the K-900. Nothing was wrong with these cars. But when you are shelling out the big bucks, the buyers want snot brand cachet. Period. Why would anybody spend $75K on a VW when they can show off a Roundel without having to explain anything to the neighbors?

    • 0 avatar

      Corolla doesn’t dominate the compact class. You minus out fleet sales and Honda’s Civic trounces the Crapolla. There are way more Honda Civic 10th gens rolling in the streets of real people (not rental lots).

  • avatar

    ’tis a good looking car, especially from the back side. I’m guesstimating yearly sales in the tens… or maybe in the hundreds. As mentioned above, why go high-end VW when Audi calls?

  • avatar

    (And ideally saddled with a hard-to-remember name).

    Which is it? Do you want manufacturers to give their models names or stick to alphanumeric designations?

  • avatar

    It does look good, but so does the CC, which doesn’t sell. So…I don’t see where this fits in with their current lineup.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I don’t see a 188 standard hp non-premium branded unpronounceable sedan competing for much of anybody’s premium dollars but if its cheap for them to bring it over here I suppose they can give ‘er a go. It will be interesting to spot one or two every year on the road.

  • avatar

    All I see is a 2017 Malibu with a less reliable engine.

  • avatar

    Not feeling it.
    – Dont’ want a 4-door Coupe (the reality of it makes no more sense than the oxymoronic origin of the flawed concept)
    – VW is not a premium brand, as many decades of production can testify.
    – It does not speak to my heart. Since I’m tall and long-waisted it might speak to my head if I sit in the back seat under that sloping coupe roofline. I will speak back in swear words after hitting my head. If the designers have minimized this by lowering the seat cushion, my short relatives won’t be able to see out the windows.

  • avatar

    Maybe they are trying to sell it to me. I like Audi’s but it’s more money than I want to spend. Since I think Audis are 80% VW I’d look at them to save some money.

  • avatar

    It looks like a LWB Chrysler 200 in that first picture. That’s not so good.

  • avatar

    Looks bland in a vaguely decent looking way. Couldn’t tell it’s a VW. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing.

  • avatar

    Why does Volkswagen think it should even have a “premium” product under that branding?

    VAG already has a perfectly plausible premium/luxury marque in Audi.

    A VW-branded premium product either undercuts Audi or is undercut *by* Audi (see Ford Titanium trim vs. Lincoln).

  • avatar

    Audi complexity with VW build quality and 3/36 warranty? No, thanks.

    When is VW going to remember why they even have brand cache in the US anymore and return to making cheap, cheerful, unique cars people actually want to own and can afford?

  • avatar

    I don’t feel sorry for someone who buys this. I feel sorry for the children of someone who buys this. In 1984 I was 13 and living in California with my parents. My parents we’re getting rid of the Buick Electra and were off to go get a BMW. I was so excited. They came home with a VW Quantum.

  • avatar

    Great, an updated CC. The interior doesn’t appear to be radically different from the current version. If this was an electric car, A LOT of people would be interested, but it’s not so they won’t be.

  • avatar

    “the ultra-lux Phaeton was a colossal dud that bit the dust in the same manner in which it lived: without anyone noticing.”

    Cue a rebuttal from the owner of two Phaeton’s.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen is not a premium name (by its very meaning!), and that’s not its only hurdle. Their dealerships are famously subpar in many ways, and the recent emissions scandal has tarnished their reputation like the Vega and Citation and its brothers tarnished GM.
    VW should introduce Skoda to the US, and talk to GM about selling repackaged VWs as Buicks, once the Vauxhall factories stop sending Opels our way.

  • avatar

    Another fail sedan, thanks industry.

  • avatar

    Premium dollars for a four cylinder? That only works for the German badges of BMW, Mercedes and Audi…not VeeDubya. You think the office hottie wants to spend 389/m on a VW while rolling up to the club with her gal pals on a Friday or Saturday night? I don’t think so. Perception is everything.

  • avatar

    Does Arteon mean “please buy me” in Martian?

  • avatar

    These cars will move just fine with the right lease numbers.

  • avatar

    It needs a higher, formal roofline, vertical rear glass, longer trunk, and a chromed grille. They can get by with that until they have the tooling to make it RWD with a longitudinal V8.

    Even then, it’ll never sell as a premium car here as long as the VW logo reminds people it’s a “Peoples’ Car”. Call it a Blenheim Churchill, or a Marlborough Blenheim, or something.

    • 0 avatar

      This sort of sums it up… I dont think the world cares too much for a USD$30k plus FWD 4 cyl. 4 door “coupe” that doesnt have some glaring USP (unique sales proposition)… especially from VW with all the baggage that entails.

      I think it looks pretty nice all round… I mean its almost an Audi with a VW badge but then even as an Audi, its not all that interesting.

      I get that it could be quite interesting as a wagon slightly jacked up, 4wd and maybe with a 6 spd manual. And turbo diesel. But otherwise…

      Hard pass.

  • avatar

    As a touareg owner for more than a decade, I won’t buy another VW sedan for more than 25K or SUV for more than 30K. If I want to buy a sedan with more than 25K, I would get a A3/A4, same as SUV.
    It is unfortunate that VW is still trying to sell car in premium price in US market. You just need to look at the current generation of Touareg, are they selling? I bet lots of dealer selling 10K under MSRP easily. I can easily find one in my local city for more than 10K off. Is VW listening?
    The only thing VW need is more reliable car ,and maybe more DIY friendly maintenance.

  • avatar

    MUST TTAC parrot marketing bs/gibberish such as Bischoff’s?

    I always credited VW for distinctive styling as opposed to the lazy alternative of over-styling. So much for that.

    • 0 avatar

      yeah, no s**t. back in the day marketing garbage like “It’s an avant-garde business-class Gran Turismo that speaks to the heart and head alike” would have been skewered as the useless s**t it is, but no more.

      I mean, when I see stuff like that the first thing I think is “did you actually write that on purpose?”

  • avatar

    Face it, guys: this is not designed for the US, and neither for Europe, but as a low-cost Phaeton replacement for where the Phaeton did okay: China. And it does have a USP over the A5 hatchback, whatever that is called: rear legroom. Same MQB and dimensions as the Skoda Superb means similar interior space, albeit with less headroom due to the low roofline. And with the rear hatch, it’s much more practical than its predecessor, the CC. It also should look more imposing with its added wheelbase and width.

    I’ve seen slightly disguised test vehicles here in Germany already. They do have a fair bit of presence on the street, looking a step up from the CC. I haven’t seen an undisguised one yet, but I think I’ll like it when I do.

    I also think it will be more of a success than the CC, because the distance to the Passat both in looks and usefulness has gotten bigger. Once the GTE hybrid, fully electric, and possibly V6 performance versions reach market, I’m quite sure I’ll be seeing plenty more Arteons than I ever did Phaetons or CCs. Why not? It’s an upscale, restyled Superb, and that’s a great car already.

  • avatar

    Where’s the volume knob?? Honda learned their lesson over that.

    This “might” be crossed shopped with the new Kia Stinger.

  • avatar

    If Hyundai can build Genesis cars, why not this?

  • avatar

    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.

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