By on June 23, 2020

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

You’re forgiven for forgetting the Volkswagen Arteon exists.

That’s not necessarily the car’s fault. It’s a fairly good large sports sedan, but it plays in a class that has been overshadowed by the crossover craze, and top-level Arteons are priced so that similar Audis start to look appealing.

As I wrote when the car launched, the biggest challenge the Arteon faces is finding the right buyer.

It’s very unlikely this is the first car that comes to mind when someone thinks of Volkswagen.

Despite that, or perhaps because of it, it’s already in line for a refresh. There’s also some big news for Europe, but us Yanks and Canucks will have to stare across the pond in envy, should we be wagon enthusiasts or hybrid fans.

Exterior changes are minimal – all trims get new bumpers, with non-R-line cars getting a chrome bar above the front spoiler and additional and separate air intakes, while R-Lines get a continuous LED light bar that goes from one side to the other, plus a larger and continuous lower air intake. The rear sees a different typeface for the Arteon font, as well as a new VW logo. The 18- and 20-inch wheels boast new designs.

There’s also three more exterior color choices, although two are R-Line only.

Standard equipment gets a boost. SE trims add a new dashboard including a digital gauge cluster, the aforementioned new wheel designs for the 18-inch wheels, VW’s App Connect system, keyless entry, new steering wheel with capacitive touch controls, Climatronic A/C, and King’s Red as a color choice. SEL R-Line cars gain wireless charging, the illuminated light bar in the grille, illuminated and translucent interior décor, lane assist, traffic-sign recognition, and two new color choices (Onyx White and Lapiz Blue). SEL Premium R-Line cars have the new 20-inch wheel design and a Harmon Kardon audio system.

2021 Arteon

That’s the trim lineup for the U.S. now, by the way: SE, SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium R-Line. That last one is all-wheel-drive only, while the SEL R-line is front-wheel drive with AWD optional.

Power still comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and remains 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic remains the sole transmission.

Hybrids (it’s a plug-in) and the higher-performance R version will not available on this side of the Atlantic. The plug-in hybrid will generate 160 kW or 215 horsepower, while the R makes 315 ponies.

Other interior changes on the cars we will see over here include imitation leather with embossed stitching, a new look for the HVAC controls, a different air-vent design, and what VW promises are “improved” interior materials.

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

That’s not a lot of change for those of us living in North America, although the use of digital gauges puts the car on par with other VW products, such as the Atlas, and capacitive touch will give the car a bit more of an upscale selling point.

Overseas buyers will be able to buy a shooting brake version of the car. “Shooting brake” is “wagon” in ‘Murican English. The biggest difference there, besides the obvious, is that the roof is different from the B-pillar rearwards and carries a roof spoiler.

Whether the changes will signal boost the Arteon remains to be seen. It’s a good car, but will crossover-crazed buyers even look at a large sedan with luxury pricing?

Perhaps it’s the market that needs the refresh.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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18 Comments on “Volkswagen Reminds Us the Arteon Exists by Refreshing It Already...”


  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    AWD Shooting brake with 315 hp, at a reasonable price point? Yes, please – would be a great replacement for my ’05 LGT Wagon.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    That car would look gorgeous in the Golf R’s lapiz blue metallic.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    top-level Arteons are priced so that similar Audis start to look appealing.

    Yeah smaller Audi’s with less equipment. I bet it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a VW dealer willing to deal.

    Although if they want it to be “premium” they should have made AWD standard.

    I fall back on what “Everyday Driver” (YouTube) guys said: “It isn’t fast but it wants you to drive it fast.” (It’s not a 0-60 or 1/4 mile machine but it wants you to drive it at a high rate of speed.)

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      You can get a very well-equipped A4 (virtual cockpit, nav, B&O sound, uprated engine) for the same money as a top-spec Arteon (high-40s), and that’s not much smaller at all. The A4 is also a far better performer than the VW (same power, but the Audi has a dual-clutch transmission with a launch control system, and a far more balanced chassis). If you’re careful with the options, an A5 Sportback comes in around 50K, and it’s mechanically identical to the A4.

      But I’d say the real Arteon killer isn’t an Audi – it’s a Toyota Avalon.

      • 0 avatar
        Runfromcheney

        I’m sure everyone comparing it to the Kia Stinger due to it being a 5 door liftback isn’t doing it any favors either, even though the Arteon and Stinger are two completely different animals.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          True, but when you consider a Stinger GT with AWD stickers out in the same range as a fully loaded Arteon (high-40s) and the Kia is a great performer, which one would you buy? I’d take the Stinger.

          • 0 avatar
            saturnotaku

            I’d take the Arteon every day of the week and twice on Sunday. The Stinger does absolutely nothing for me, even at the severely discounted prices that are available. There were still 2018 models hanging out on dealer lots in January of this year, as our old pal Doug DeMuro has shown.

          • 0 avatar
            turbo_awd

            Which is what I did – why would I take the Arteon that barely has more power than my Legacy GT did new (and it more when I sold it :-), vs. 100 hp more in the Stinger. Plus, at this point, I’d have to call Kia reliability better than VW.

            My wife’s GTI is kinda tight and fun, but in no way would a bigger, slower version of it be more fun that the Stinger..

      • 0 avatar
        Whatnext

        Makes the choice easy then, with the Avalon being so ugly and the Arteon being so attractive!

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Well you all know I love unintentionally rare cars that are not necessarily valuable. :-)

          The cheapest A5 Sportback is $42,500 the “Prestige” is $52,600 – AWD is standard on all trims. 2.0T as standard engine.

          Arteon starts at $36K and fully loaded is a tick under $42,000. Given that they both have the same basic 2.0T I’d rather have a loaded VW than a no options Audi. I’m sure the real world price delta would be larger than the MSRP difference.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I hate to be THAT guy, but…
    Why not an “S” version? With no silly options? How about some cloth seats? With manual adjustment?
    How about a manual transmission? (Which, by the way, the character of a VW is perfect for).
    How about $25k?
    And yes, I was going to go to Toschi Station to pick up some power converters.

  • avatar
    Acd

    The biggest change this car needs is about a $10,000 price cut.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Yep. I liked it, but thought the same thing. It’s just too expensive for what it is. Also, it desperately needs the VR6 or the Golf R tune. It’s not horribly underpowered, but for nearly 50k, VW should have included one of those.

      Pricey cars need 300hp minimum.

  • avatar
    Matzel

    BAM! Sexiest sedan.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Didn’t the top line versions already have the digital guages? I see the analog clock has finally bitten the dust, along with the just-introduced faux-full dash vents.

    The biggest problem for the Arteon is the total lack of promotion VW has put into it.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’ve only seen one of these on the road. It’s rarer on the road than a McLaren.It was handsome. One can compare it too A4 pricing but discounts of 8 to 10k are likely. This was pre Covid.
    I’ve not sat in either the new a6 or this , but the Art appears to be more spacious.According to C&D they got over 35mpg on their highway test. Not bad.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    The last time there was a TTAC mention of the Arteon I commented that I’ve yet to see one. However many months and one pandemic on, and I still haven’t.

    Somehow I don’t expect to in the future.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Thank god they improved the interior materials — although at this price, fake leather doesn’t sound all that “improved.” When these first came out, they looked so rubberized inside I was tempted to come back to the auto show brandishing a garden hose.

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