Don't You Dare Call the Volkswagen Arteon, the CC's Replacement, a Hatchback
Humpback. Tailback. Silverback.
Paperback. Greenback. Kickback.
Payback. Setback. Buyback.
Notchback. Liftback. Hatchback.
Elmar-Marius Licharz, the director of mid and large car model lines at Volkswagen, makes it very clear that the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon, a successor to the Volkswagen CC, is not a hatchback.
Do such designations matter? To Volkswagen, apparently they do.
“Don’t say hatchback,” Licharz told The Telegraph, “it’s fastback.”
There are two main reasons Licharz and Volkswagen could be sensitive on the subject. For one thing, the Arteon, which follows the sedan CC, is a fastback. The roofline slopes sharply at the rear of the car.
But as a means of distinguishing sedans, with their separate, exterior-access trunks, from cars such as the Arteon, we’re apt to use the word “hatchback” as a qualifier.
Hatchback, however, bring up visions of the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic, and Nissan Versa Note. Thus, not only is the Volkswagen Arteon a true fastback, it also doesn’t deserve (in Volkswagen’s mind) to be linked with such plebeian vehicles. The Volkswagen Arteon is, in the eyes of executives at VW HQ, premium.
“Premium” and “hatchback” do not go together like apple pie and ice cream.
“The cars we produce at our Chattanooga plant are for the mass market,” Licharz says. “The cars that come from Germany,” referring to vehicles such as the Arteon, “will need to push at the premium market.”
Thus, the Arteon is bigger than the old CC, and big investment was required to use the famed MQB architecture on a car of this size.
Still, it’s curious that Volkswagen keeps going back to this premium well. It would be all the more curious if Volkswagen had attempted to steal Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo sales with a cargo bay door that wasn’t hidden by a sedan-like profile.
Fastback. Not hatchback.
141,211 copies of the Volkswagen CC have been sold in the U.S. since its 2008 launch as the Passat’s swoopy sibling. From its peak of nearly 30,000 sales in 2011, sales plunged, averaging only fewer than 9,000 annual units over the last four years. With CC production ended, the Arteon arrives in the U.S. next year.
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.
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