By on July 10, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Arteon cargo - Image: VolkswagenHumpback. Tailback. Silverback.

Paperback. Greenback. Kickback.

Payback. Setback. Buyback.

Notchback. Liftback. Hatchback.

Fastback.

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.
2018 Volkswagen Arteon - Image: Volkswagen“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.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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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74 Comments on “Don’t You Dare Call the Volkswagen Arteon, the CC’s Replacement, a Hatchback...”


  • avatar
    Maymar

    Hatchback! HATCHBACK! Haaaaaaaatchbaaaaaaack!

    It’s not a dirty word (or rather, shouldn’t be), and if VW really wanted to impact sales, they’d call it something ridiculous like a CoG-Optimized 4-door Crossover Sport Coupe. Don’t go halfway and call it fastback like that’ll shake people of their stupid biases.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It’s a liftback. Not enough bump to be a hatchback. If the Fusion or Civic had the same trunk opening on the sedans, they could be called liftbacks.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I mean, I get your point, but it all seems like a subclassification of hatchbacks, to make people feel better.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Fastbacks that raised the rear glass were called Hatchbacks in the 60s and 70s… even into the 90s. Now, all of a sudden, to be a hatchback it has to have a “bump”? Where did THAT come from? My ’96 Camaro was a “hatchback”, not a “liftback”.

          • 0 avatar
            DrSandman

            I dunno. My ’86 IROC-Z was a liftback.

            When we broke the oval keys, we lifted the back and crawled through the rear into the front seats. We were poor grad students….

            …who drove an IROC. Whoo hoo!

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    Now Ford needs to get off it’s a$$ and sell the Fusion as a “fastback” or “liftback”. The current Fusion sedan trunk opening is terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      NOPR

      Not many people realize it, but this is exactly what the Mondeo has; it’s not completely identical to the Fusion.

      Only the Hybrid which is sourced from the U.S. has the Fusion style trunk, but if you line up a Mondeo “hatch” and Mondeo Hybrid “sedan” next to each other, you can see the profile is actually significantly different.

      • 0 avatar
        Marcin Laszuk

        Actually, the Mondeo is available as a sedan not only as a hybrid. The Vignale trim could be ordered as a sedan from the beginning, and Ford recently started producing non-Vignale and non-Hybrid sedan Mondeos. Strangely enough, Poland seems to be the only country in which they are offered; there is one for sale at the dealer in my hometown that clearly has a trunk so I know that it’s not a mistake in the configurator.

        Sure, the Fusion would be much more practical as a hatchback but, at least in my opinion, the sedan is just so much better looking. Especially in the higher trim levels, the sedan looks just the way a car of its size and price should look while the hatchback is a little bit derpy in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      They can also follow suit with the Mustang and if Chevy’s watching, the Camaro could also use a liftback.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    You’d think they could dig into the history bin a bit and call it a Kammback.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Well the CC is all-round pretty crap (and entirely dated for the past 5+ years), so this should be an improvement.

    The upstanding white Europeans with big house going golfing image is tarnished by those dark, awful blade wheels.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    They could call it a “Sportback . . . ” Oh wait, that’s the Audi A5.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    They’re obviously looking out for the best interests of folks like Niles Crane.
    Niles: “No. And even worse, after I’d left the car off at the body
    shop, the rental agency didn’t have a single luxury car
    left. They stuck me with some vehicle I believe they call a
    Hunchback.”
    Frasier: “No. I think that would be a Hatchback, Niles.”
    Niles: “It’s painted panic-button red, with a large rear window that
    pops open.”
    Frasier: “Oh, that would be the Hatchback.”
    Niles: “Well, there’s a novel idea: name the car after its most
    hideous feature. I presume it was a toss-up between
    “Hatchback” and “What’s that odor coming from the floor?”.”

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Kammback?

  • avatar
    ptschett

    It looks pretty nice for a hatchback.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    At one time, liftback and hatchback were one and the same. As far as I’m concerned, they still are. Squareback vehicles with a large opening rear should still have that ‘hatch’ called a “tailgate”, even though it goes up, not down.

    Personally, I’d prefer the clamshell style gate on a square back as you can lift the upper panel (window) to allow oversized loads to hang out without threatening the grill of the vehicle behind and with less risk of the load sliding out. In other words, bring back the old “wagons” and put some proper cargo space into them.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      We’re splitting hairs here I guess. I like vehicles that are styled like sedans but have a “liftback” opening. It is more useful than the current mail slot trunks. I wouldn’t classify the Mondeo liftback as a hatchback. Especially after looking at Ford’s other hatchbacks.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I think it’s the angle of the aperture which determines.

        A Navigator has a hatch. A Land Cruiser has a hatch. Though we call it “rear hatch” and not “hatchback” on SUVs.

        The A5, this VW, and the Mazda 626 5-door have lifts.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I always call it a rear liftgate, but this is a great way to distinguish.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          There’s a simpler way. If the back opens all the way up to over the heads of the back-seat passengers, then it’s a Hatchback. If the back opens to a basically square portal with no added overhead clearance, then it’s a tailgate. If it’s basically vertical, it’s a tailgate, if it takes nearly half the roof with it, it’s a hatchback. Simple as that.

          You guys call it what you will. If someone tries to sell me a jacked-up wagon on steroids as a “hatchback”, I’ll just walk away.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            You’d never shop or buy anything even remotely like this anyway. So that’s a bit moot.

            And walking away from a car because someone uses a term you don’t like to describe it is beyond logical reason.

            Sell me a Tahoe and tell me it’s a van. I know what it really is.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            If someone uses a fake term or describes something it is not, then as far as I’m concerned, they’re lying to me. I actually had someone try to tell me a Colt wagon was a “minivan” one time. Sheesh! That’s NOT the kind of dealership I want to frequent.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Navigator, Cruiser, those aren’t hatches, they’re gates. Maybe a liftgate, but definitely a gate.

          • 0 avatar
            scott25

            I’d consider the colt wagon (assuming we’re talking about the one also sold as the summit wagon) a minivan, just without sliding doors. But I also consider the Rondo a minivan. And the first-gen Odyssey which also didn’t have sliding doors.

            It looks far more like a minivan than any other classification.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The Colt wagon was a decided two-box rig with fixed seats, though the back seat backs could be folded down. At best it was a four-seater with a load deck behind the second row.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Maybe the Buick Regal 5-door isn’t so crazy after all.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It is not. I like the Regal 5-door. Might as well peddle the 5-door as a premium vehicle instead of fighting the Malibu.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      Except that the new Regal is a 4000-lb porker.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Buick’s site says 3417 lbs.

        http://media.buick.com/media/us/en/buick/vehicles/regal-sportback/2018.tab1.html

        I’m assume that is for FWD versions though. The AWD version should weight that much more. Should be under 4000 lbs in any configuration.

        • 0 avatar
          Secret Hi5

          My bad – Sorry. It’s the Regal wagon that’s >4000 lb.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            600 pound penalty for the wagon???

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I don’t know what the weights will be. On the GM site, Buick lists the Regal TourX and Sportback as weighing 3417 lbs. Buick has said that the Sportback could weight up to 3900 lbs, so we’ll just have to wait for more info. 3417 has to be the minimum Regal weight for the 2018 models.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Whatever it’s called, as a Citroen fan (not of their current crap, mind you) I cannot but approve of any large, low, sweeping, and yes I dare say elegant five-door. There are clearly too few of those to go around.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’m guessing Mr Licharz is one of those marketing clowns who just confuses consumers with their babel.

  • avatar
    RS

    It’s a hatchback.

    And for good reason. The trunk lid would be the size of the fuel door if they didn’t make it a hatchback.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Arteon”? Where did they get such a stupid name? Makes me think of a column written years ago in Car and Driver (like 1972) about naming car models.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      VW Toerag, or have you forgotten?

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        At least Touareg is a real word that people knew before the car came out.

        I mostly just knew the name from the 90’s Peugeot concept.

        • 0 avatar
          newenthusiast

          “At least Touareg is a real word that people knew before the car came out.”

          I was going to type something to refute this, but then I looked up the Touareg on Wikipedia.

          I had no idea that it was named for anything, I just figured it was either a German word or a made up word.

          That being said, I don’t think very many people in the North American market knew that, or how to pronounce it, which is probably one of the reasons it never sold here.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aww, come on now! This VW is obviously named after a Pokeman. Let’s see, there’s Vaperion, Flareon…

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Not a bad looking car but so was the CC in its day, no idea what the price will be esp being built in Germany, can’t Vw just leave upscale to Audi?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Funny, my VW Fastback just had an ordinary trunk which doubled as a rather cramped hood

    Can I call the Arteon “redundant”? Its just a Passat with a Chevy mask over it!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    So here goes. Among vehicles with four doors:

    Hatchbacks have more squared-off rooflines and near-vertical liftgates, and also tend to be shorter than sedans in their class. See…Focus hatch, Cruze hatch, Golf, Corolla iM, Elantra GT…and compare the length of those cars’ to their sedan counterparts, or to sedans in the same class made by the same respective manufacturers.

    Wagons are a similar shape, but will almost definitely have D-pillars and quarter-panel windows, and will be at least the same length as a sedan. Some cars, like the Matrix, previous A3 and Caliber, blend the line between hatchback and wagon.

    Liftbacks are about the same length as their sedan counterparts, but have a sleek roofline and a liftgate. The portion of the car that is shaped like a trunk is often abbreviated or nonexistent. Some liftbacks have sexy, athletic roofline, like the A7, 4-Series Gran Coupe and current Panamera. Others, like the Volt, Accord Crosstour and 3-Series GT, use their liftback status to create more of a wind-cheating wedge shape.

    The Arteon, then, is a liftback.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      No, Kyree. You’re giving in to the dumbing down of the term. If it’s square-backed, it’s a tailgate. You even called it a liftgate. A hatchback is where you raise more than just a gate but part of the roof, too.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Do hairs sense pain when they’re split?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          As a matter of fact, FM, they do. You should look it up.

          The style of hatch on the VW above was called “hatchback” over 40 years ago. The vertical style was called “tailgate”. Why did anybody have to go and try to change their meaning and create confusion? Unless, of course, that confusion was intentional to try and imply one vehicle type was another.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      Wagons generally have more rear overhang than a hatchback. The Matrix and Caliber were too high sided and stubby to be wagons.

      Then again I’ve also had zero comprehension of how people can compare most crossovers to wagons. I don’t even understand the fact a lot of people consider the original Forester a wagon.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    I thank you all for leaving me the low-hanging fruit. I say, being a VW, perhaps they should call it a “buy back”? Waaah ahahahahahaha!!!! Thank you, here all week. (Full disclosure: I’m a VW-friendly driver of Saab 9000 hatchbacks/liftbacks/whatever)

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    I like silverback… but make it an apt descriptor. Paint the roof and hatch in fine metallic silver, the rest of the body in deep but bright complimentary colors, and use semi-reflective glass (I’m thinking of an aftermarket tint I saw recently that avoids the mirror/chrome look) for the panoramic sunroof and hatch glass.

    Well, I think it would look sharp, anyway. At least for a special edition model… “I drive an Arteon Silverback.”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Perhaps VW would rather call it the “Sexyback.”

    Take ’em to the bridge!

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “Hatchback, however, bring up visions of the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic, and Nissan Versa Note.”

    —- None of those things is/was a “hatchback”.

    That VW is a hatchback. Period.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I’d never in all my life call that a hatch-back…unless the hatch on the back was open then maybe but I’d probably just call it a big ******* trunk.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Secret Hi5 writes: “VW Toerag, or have you forgotten?”

    Not really. VW simply overestimated the average North American education level with that one.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I saw the Arteon exhibited at the airport the other day and, boy, that’s one hell of a sharp car. If it wasn’t for the VW badge, this could be a real stylish item.

    /sums up the Volkswagen conundrum

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Lots of informative comments about the Arteon and how it replaces the CC.

    Does the Arteon have those frameless windows that retract a bit when you open a door?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    There was a Euro review of the Arteon that basically concluded that it’s still just a stylized Passat and that driving it was just ‘meh’. Pity VW didn’t make this thing drive as well as it looks.

    And just blown 4’s will power it?

  • avatar
    deanst

    So what do you call the opening GM had in the old Envoy XUV?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Tailgate with sliding roof.
      The sliding roof, by the way, was nothing new; the Studebaker Lark wagon had one of those back in the late ’50s, early ’60s period.

  • avatar
    kuruma

    By the time this car finally makes it to our shores in mid to late summer of 2018 it’s going to be “Has been back.”

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Looks very nice better then the A7! Now if the Accord is also a liftback too then I will buy the Accord. If not; I have to think about VW reliability and what engines options it comes with.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Fliessheck. Repeat after me.

  • avatar
    scott25

    That top picture is the first non-CGI image I have ever seen of this car. So it IS real!

  • avatar
    vvk

    This is really simple. If it has five doors and you can fit a full size fridge in the back, it is a wagon. If it has five doors and the fridge does not fit due to the slope of the rear door or the length of the cargo area, it is a hatchback. BMW GRand Coupe, Porsche Panamera, Audi A7, Tesla Model S — all hatchbacks.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Will this still come with the 3.6? I don’t mind this AT ALL.

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