In a Shocking Turn, Volkswagen Bestows R-Line Trim on 2019 Arteon

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Don’t cut yourself cleaning up that juice glass you just dropped.

Yes, it’s true, the company that enjoys carving out slightly sportier iterations of existing models that aren’t actually any faster than stock is at it again. Volkswagen, which brought you screamers like the R-Line Jetta, Tiguan, and Atlas, plans to work the same magic on the brand’s upcoming flagship.

The 2019 Arteon, appearing later this year with a single powerplant and front- or all-wheel-drive, will take on the role of “brand shaper,” says VW’s North American region CEO Hinrich Woebcken, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune from the automaker’s across-the-board product strategy. So, what does R-Line bring to the swoopy CC’s replacement?

Wheels. Big ones, man. Ticking the box next to the R-Line package nets buyers 19- or 20-inch aluminum wheels, a revised lower bumper with larger air intakes, a blacked-out spoiler, and R-Line signifiers everywhere else.

Inside the liftback sedan, leather adorns the R-Line’s wheel and shift knob, while paddle shifters appear on the steering column to help tame that eight-speed automatic. Meanwhile, stainless door sills remind you each time you step into the car that it isn’t just a regular Arteon. No, sir.

Like its stablemates, the mild-rodded Arteon doesn’t go in for any of that fancy go-fast stuff. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is the sole power source in this ride, and it’s good for 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Adaptive damping comes standard on all models, helping smooth out the road’s rough edges, and there’s a suite of driver assist features to keep insurance adjusters at bay.

The Arteon’s entry price is rumored to sit around $38,000, which, if true, places about a $3k gap between it and a Passat SEL Premium with all the options. We’ve had a couple of convos here at TTAC concerning VW’s likely source of Arteon buyers, and upselling at the dealer never fails to get a mention. Other buyers sight simply prefer the Arteon’s admittedly attractive outward appearance.

Still, the car’s positioning in the near-premium/entry level premium space, coupled with an unfamiliar nameplate and the fact that any car in 2018 is an increasingly tough sell, causes us to wonder about potential volume. While it doesn’t occupy the same space as the Arteon, sales of the Passat fell 50.3 percent, year over year, in the U.S. last month. Over the first two months of 2018, Passat sales declined 54.4 percent, despite a 5.7 percent uptick for the VW brand.

We’ll see the Arteon R-Line in the flesh at next week’s New York International Auto Show, with the Arteon appearing in showrooms this fall. R-Line trim is available at launch.

[Images: Volkswagen of America]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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2 of 28 comments
  • Tonycd Tonycd on Mar 22, 2018

    I sat in an Arteon at the auto show, and the interior looked as if the appropriate tool for cleaning it was a garden hose. 38 large, my arse.

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Mar 23, 2018

    What brand's models correspond to this at that price? Pretty slim segment in any case.

  • JMII I doubt Hyundai would spend the development costs without having some idea of a target buyer.As an occasional track rat myself I can't imagine such a buyer exists. Nearly $70k nets you a really good track toy especially on the used market. This seems like a bunch of gimmicks applied to a decent hot hatch EV that isn't going to impression anyone given its badge. Normally I'd cheer such a thing but it seems silly. Its almost like they made this just for fun. That is awesome and I appreciate it but given the small niche I gotta think the development time, money and effort should have been focused elsewhere. Something more mainstream? Or is this Hyundai's attempt at some kind of halo sports car?Also seems Hyundai never reviles sales targets so its hard to judge successful products in their line up. I wonder how brutal depreciation will be on these things. In two years at $40k this would a total hoot.So no active dampers on this model?
  • Analoggrotto Colorado baby!
  • Rob Woytuck Weight is also a factor for ferries which for instance in British Columbia, Canada are part of the highway system.
  • Ajla I guess some people were big fans of Milli Vanilli and Real Dolls (don't Google that at work) but I have a very large problem with the fake engine sounds and fake transmissions. If you turn them off does it stay off forever or does it turn back on whenever you go into sport mode?
  • Probert That X frame was a killer. No nostalgia for these things to be honest. Yup - life of the party....