Volkswagen Reminds Us the Arteon Exists by Refreshing It Already
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.