By on October 13, 2020

2018 Volkswagen Arteon cargo - Image: VolkswagenI was thinking about Volkswagen this weekend, as you do. We’ve all seen the recent reports that the company is losing money, betting big on the new electric ID lineup, and about to sell its halo supercar brand Bugatti.

But I think the company has another, product-centric issue in North America as you might’ve guessed by the title above. The Arteon must go.

You see, I was checking out some pictures of an Arteon SEL at whatever random dealer Google presented to me. And while the alignment of the trunk really bothered me from a quality perspective, the rest of the photos caused me to consider how the Arteon is absolutely the wrong premium sedan offering for VW’s North American lineup.

The looks aren’t the issue, as it manages to stand out with its unique profile and appears upscale in lots of colors that aren’t Hot Gold Metallic. No, the Arteon’s issues are with positioning. Arteon’s playing the premium sedan game, sitting above the Passat as VW’s flagship sedan in this market.

As you know, I’m no fan of the current Passat, which is worse than the Passat the rest of the world gets for VW Corporate Reasons. It’s unacceptable the MQB-based Arteon shares a showroom floor with the crap “NMS” Passat, unless Volkswagen wants to make the Arteon look more premium. But the Arteon can’t be that premium, because it’s required to sit below Audi offerings.  That’s problem one.

The second issue for the Arteon comes in the form of its … form. It’s a liftback, which is traditionally not a thing Americans go for outside of premium offerings – see Kia’s Stinger for example. The “coupe” form factor also arrives for historical reasons, because the Arteon is the official replacement for the departed CC. That sloped “four-door coupe” (2008-2017) was so ancient by the time it was canceled that everyone forgot it was still on sale. And nobody wanted a second album from CC and company anyway. Dealers are throwing thousands on the hood to try and shift Arteon: $6,000 on the one above, even before you begin negotiations.

The Arteon’s placement is wrong, its form is wrong, and the North American Passat sucks. What’s my recommendation then? Two birds with one stone, as it were: The ancient NMS Passat and slow-selling Arteon must be killed immediately. In place of both these things American’s don’t really want, Volkswagen can bring over the legitimate MQB Passat they sell in the rest of the world.

A sedan will always sell better than a liftback in North America (even if that’s still a bit slow), and the Passat’s price is more in line with what consumers are willing to spend on a Volkswagen. They could bring over the wagon as well, but that’s probably a bad idea. Volkswagen’s North American Passat and Arteon need to ALT+F4 right out of this market. Bring back a well-made, premium Passat like you used to sell here, VW.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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56 Comments on “Opinion: Volkswagen Needs to Cancel the Arteon Immediately...”


  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    Counterpoint: VW needs to make the Arteon an EV.

    It looks great, the interior is nice, and a liftback is better than a regular trunk. The only problems are the sedan market in the US is mostly dead and it is expensive. The other option is lifting it an inch or two, add some cladding, and call it the Atlas Alltrack or something dumb.

    • 0 avatar

      But with raise and cladding it becomes even more expensive. Top trims of it already cross to A4 territory, which is only three inches shorter.

      Any more money and it’s A4 Allroad too.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      If your going to sell an EV, sell a luxury performance EV. Low volume is not a problem when you are making a profit. Name it Artelectron.

      VW is dead to me. Judging popularity by the number of Atlas and Tiguan I see everyday VW is succeeding in the SUV market.

      Arteon I did not know existed.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Sure, do an EV version of the Arteon. You’ll end up with a $50-60,000 Arteon with mediocre range. No way I’d pick that over a Model 3.

        VAG has already tried making an EV on a non-EV platform – the E-Golf – and it bombed. It was a half-a**ed effort to begin with. Even the Audi E-Tron, which they put a ton of effort into, hasn’t done well either. Range is the issue with both models.

        I think EVs need to be on dedicated, purpose-built platforms to really work. The dedicated VW EV platform would probably be a good starting point for a semi-premium electric sedan – that might be interesting. But just sticking an electric motor and some batteries in an Arteon is gonna fail.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    Alternate opinion:

    The Arteon and NMS Passat stay in the lineup until such time as the ID5 is available. If VW really is “all in” on the conversion to electric, then why do anything with an ICE product that is already developed. When the ID5 is available, drop the Arteon, drop the NMS Passat, and sell the ID5 and MQB Passat.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve seen one Arteon in the wild, identifiable due to that gold color. They should kill it just because of the support costs.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    The Arteon looks fantastic, but outside of looks there is little to compel me to purchase one over, say, an Audi A5 Sportback….or even an A4.

    Electrify it, heck, give us a VR6 R version of it, but it needs something special to justify its position in the lineup. As it stands now, with the ubiquitous EA888 4-Cyl, it’s just…another car.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    VW tried the “Sell the European Passat in the US” strategy, and it was a money-loser. The B5 and B6 Passats got all sorts of critical praise (and I owned a B5.5 (M/T Wagon!) for 13 years myself), but did not sell particularly well, and they were never profitable. The NMS Passat, for all its faults, sold better than the B5 and B6 ever did and actually made money. (I have no idea if it still makes money, as it’s pretty damn old at this point, in a tanking market.)

    But yes, the Arteon was as dumb of an idea as the Phaeton, and should never have been offered for sale here.

    • 0 avatar

      The same reason why Chrysler 200 did not sell – Passat was based on Golf platform – too small for midsize car but costs more than midsize car should. And every time I saw it on the road I had mistaken it for Jetta. I told my coworker: “Oh, you bought new Jetta?”. Frustrated He responds “No, my wife thinks it is Passat”.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So the Arteon. I like the exterior, interior is decent. It is roomier and more comfortable than you might expect given the shape. However, the performance is pretty soft for the price. It’s fine in a bubble but in comparison the Stinger GT and Charger R/T feel like they are in a different class. Even a Camry V6 feels sharper. I’d say the VW is a lot like the Mazda6 2.5T Signature, but the Mazda had a $5K lower MSRP. On paper the A5 Sportback has 16 *less* horsepower and only weighs 100lbs less than an Arteon 4Motion but on the stopwatch the Audi is a half to a full second faster in all acceleration metrics.

    Now would 300hp “save” the Areton? Probably not. Even with a premium badge almost no one buys “style” cars these days.

    I’ve generally been an NMS Passsat apologist. The styling is inoffensive and one can buy a Passat SE for like $21K, which is a a lot of size and features for the money. I don’t know if selling the equivalent of a W-body Impala is necessarily good for the VW brand though.

    Overall I’d say cars body styles are so dead that VW should drop both the Passat and the Arteon and only sell the Jetta. It has enough interior volume for most of the current sedan market, the GLI is fun to drive, and the 1.4t is good enough for the poors. They can maybe just bump up the interior on the SEL and Autobahn trims.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “On paper the A5 Sportback has 16 *less* horsepower and only weighs 100lbs less than an Arteon 4Motion but on the stopwatch the Audi is a half to a full second faster in all acceleration metrics.”

      Explanation: the Audi has an excellent DCT and a launch control system. I had an A5 Sportback as a service loaner and it’s very, very good to drive – not a rocket, but certainly fast enough. The A4 is the more sensible buy, though – same chassis and mechanicals, lower price.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I sat in an Arteon in a VW showroom fairly recently and though I think it would do the job, I found it a bit cramped, particularly in rear headroom. The rear ingress is REALLY awkward and I am not usually one to complain about that on a sedan. Even so, you can manage to avoid hitting your head getting in and out with concerted effort. I have a 2019 Accord to measure the roominess against, which is really a huge car inside and trust me it is a big difference. I really like the Arteon, power is nothing special but styling and AWD would be great. Though a bit overpriced, 6k off makes it pretty appealing in my eyes. The cramped quarters with a taller than average family makes it a tough sell for me.

      And for the life of me, I dont understand the aversion to the liftback. All the crossovers selling like hotcakes are just hatchbacks. How is the liftback not more popular on actual cars? The increased utility of a liftback vs a truck cannot be overstated and realistically, they dont look all that different in execution.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I don’t find the Arteon attractive enough in its own right as the CC was to lure someone who might otherwise spend more for an Audi or less for a Passat or Accord or Mazda6. Not to mention Acura which might give a better dealership experience.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    Are there really golf bags as small as the ones in the photo? Maybe the couple is taking their kids for a golf lesson

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      In Germany, because open land is more scarce, the golf courses are shorter.

    • 0 avatar

      Those people are European, so I imagine their golf is played on half-size courses due to land values. Don’t need lots of clubs!

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Agree as a golfer that is the first thing that I noticed. What might have been called a ‘Sunday bag’ but in reality is not suitable for anything but a par 3 or pitch and put course. Certainly not the type of course played by ‘high net worth’ consumers.

      As for the Passat my brother has one. I find it quite pleasant to ride in. And extraordinarily roomy in comparison to its competition.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I play a near full set from my Sunday bag, unless I was going to a par 3 which I haven’t done in at least five years.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          I haven’t used anything but a full double-strap, stand bag for decades.

          14 clubs, a ball retriever, and an umbrella.

          Since I use extra large grips even a regular bag has problems fitting in that regulation amount.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I also play the midsize grips, but the Sunday bag is an old stand-less Ping Hoofer and it doesn’t have compartments. I sometimes have issues with my newer stand bag with the compartment separators. I also carry 14 clubs but sometimes cheat and add a 7 wood/hybrid, but don’t carry a retriever or umbrella.

            Additional: I recently came into possession of a set of black dot Karsten III irons from 1976. Belonged to a fellow church member and were rusting. I cleaned them up and will take them to the range hopefully this weekend.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Nice find, enjoy! There are a number of discussion boards dedicated to ‘vintage’ clubs.

            Also have an original Ping Hoofer, hanging in the garage. Should get it out? But is the same neck/opening size as my current bag. Full sized unless you count one of those massive pro sized cart bags.

            As for those referencing what they believe regarding the ‘size’ of European courses, they are generally championship sized (par 72 approximately) there are just fewer of them. So when/if playing you would still want the same number of clubs.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The only way I could see saving the Arteon is the one thing VW won’t do: introduce an Arteon GTI.

    The biggest problem with the Arteon is that it just doesn’t have enough performance for the money. It’s sexy, but doesn’t drive sexy. Solution: drop in the Golf R’s engine and DCT, and give it a proper performance-sedan chassis tuning. That should make this a FAR more compelling performer. Discontinue the more basic versions, and sell it loaded for $45,000 or so. Make it a halo car for the brand, so to speak. If it’s low-volume, then so be it. They weren’t going to sell many of these to begin with.

    Of course, that theoretical Arteon GTI will outperforms its’ Audi cousin, the A5 Sportback, for about ten grand less, so back to the drawing boards…

    Far as the Passat is concerned, though, I agree with Corey – replace the current turd with the Euro version. The reason the Euro model costs so much has a lot to with being built in Germany; last I checked, VW has a nice, big plant in Tennessee that could build it a lot cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      cimarron typeR

      I think it already has the Golf R engine in detuned form, with the IS38(?) turbo. I know the APR stage 1 tune gives it over 350 hp. I’m sure it’s detuned to run 87 octane most owners will use. I don’t think the Aisin 8spd can handle Golf R levels of torque though.
      I like the car myself, especially given the current discounts. It’s absolutely a limo compared to an a4/5, and it’s definitely less common in the wild.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      VW Canada tried that strategy and only offers the Arteon in fully loaded 4motion form. It didn’t sell any better than in the USA.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        …probably because it has the same engine as the U.S. version.

        I mean, it’s not going to sell either way. But if you’re going to keep it around, dress it up, give it some real performance, and make it something special and interesting that will make the rest of the lineup look shinier. A “premium luxury” car that will get dusted by a V-6 Camry doesn’t fit either bill.

        • 0 avatar

          It could be the R Arteon which would be pronounced Rawrteon.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            …with a huge rear wing.

            Seriously, I think lack of performance is this car’s biggest problem. From what I’ve heard, the drive is more Avalon than Audi, and Avalons are a far better buy to begin with, even with the silly front end treatment.

            It’s not like VW doesn’t have all the hardware on hand to make this car go fast – it’s all there on a platform-mate. At least then it would have been a noble failure, versus a head-scratching failure.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Whatever your reasons, mine is this.

    These kinda big expensive non-premium sedans are D.E.D.

    Kill it. Kill the Passat. Nobody cares.

    Taurus dead. Impala dead. Charger is ancient (and at least has some unique selling points that make it still fairly viable). You hear rumblings about the Avalon. Maxima might as well die.

    Just shoot em in the head and be done with it.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    They would never do it, but…
    Cloth seats
    Low content
    6-speed manual
    $25,000
    Yeah!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Interesting thought, but the base car is $36,000 to begin with, and the only real extras are leatherette seats and an automatic. The problem is that it’s built in Germany, so it’s going to be expensive to begin with.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Yep. It’s too expensive, and even with the $6k discount, it’s still too expensive. This car needed to land at $36k loaded.

        VW is not a luxury brand and can’t price it’s vehicles like it is.

        Also, Arteon needs another 40 hp to get the performance to match the looks. Even better – VW could have been made a cool throwback car with the VR6. Another missed opportunity.

        Still, I really like this car. I think this is better looking than the A5 or A7, and as a wagon guy, this body style is what I’d love to see sedans become. Smaller, more fun, more stylish but just as practical small SUVs.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The other big problem here is the competition. If I was spending $40,000 or so on a big, comfy, non-performance-semi-premium sedan, I’d buy an Avalon. It has a bigger, more powerful, non-turbo engine, a great interior, and a huge back seat. Plus you get the Toyota rep.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Yeah, the issue of Toyota resale and reliability are hard to pass up at that price. The only advantages the Arteon had was the 6 yr warranty and the cargo space. Now that VW is done apologizing with the 6 yr warranty, we’re back to long term reliability concerns with the brand.

          • 0 avatar
            Whatnext

            Too bad the Avalon is so butt ugly. No thanks.

          • 0 avatar

            I have come around to the Avalon’s current styling, but for two important parts:

            The front is terrible.
            The interior looks weird.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Make a long top version.
    We are ready for a beautiful wagon since we were deprived of the 159 wagon.
    OH… and go radical with 3 pedals.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Said it before, I’ll say it again. If VW wants to move some Arteons it needs to advertise them. And not with the one bizarre ad I’ve seen with a monster truck driver leaving work behind and getting into an Artoen. What the heck is that all about?! Does VW really think the buyer for $40k liftbacks is the same as the audience for monster truck rallies?

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Said it before, I’ll say it again. If VW wants to move some Arteons it needs to advertise them. And not with the one bizarre ad I’ve seen with a monster truck driver leaving work behind and getting into an Arteon. What the heck is that all about?! Does VW really think the buyer for $40k liftbacks is the same as the audience for monster truck rallies?

  • avatar
    bd2

    Sedans don’t always outsell the liftback “counterpart.”

    For instance, the Stinger continues to outsell the G70 (also is outselling the Lexus IS YTD), in part due to its more striking sheetmetal (at least until the G70 gets its face lift) and to bring a good bit roomier than the G70 (which is particularly tight at the rear).

    The problem for the Arteon is that the A5 Sportback exists – which can be had with more power/performance (buyers willing to pay a premium for a fastback – 4 Series GC over a 3 Series – are also wiling to pay for a higher output engine).

    The Stinger vastly outsells the Arteon in North America and other markets like Australia, with the top 3.3TT engine being the one in demand).

    In contrast, the Arteon vastly outsells the Stinger in Europe – but that’s due to the availability of a hybrid and a smaller displacement 1.5T engine (CO2 taxes make the Stinger a pricey proposition in Europe).

    Don’t think bringing over the “real” Passat will change things; VW had already tried that and it didn’t work.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Esp. as more and more mainstream models are getting more premium without the commensurate hike in the sticker price.

      Mazda is struggling with its price hikes (basically, following VW’s old strategy of being the premium mainstream brand in the US).

      We’ll see soon enough if the switch to RWD and offering a straight-6 will get more Americans willing to pay more $$ for a Mazda (if it will be seen as a better alternative to say, Acura).

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I’ve seen a total of 3 Arteon’s here in the LA area. However, I have already seen 5+ Atlas Sportcross (or whatever they’re called). I think the “SUV coupe” has taken the spot of the CC / Arteon in mainstream consumers’ hearts. At least VW has an entry in the segment!

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    They won’t. VW never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. :-/

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Never understood why VW bothered with this in NA. With many killing off their full sized sedans including Hyundai and probably soon Kia this decision was an odd one. I also wondered what was under the hood after having easily dusted one in my 2019 V6 Impala in a drag race last year. I agree that this and the barely powered Passat should both be axed with one good sedan replacement with more power under hood.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    Counterpoint – VW should kill the Arteon and bring back the Phaeton.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Speaking of Phaeton…

      Was watching an old Top Gear the other day where they were praising the Phaeton and thought to myself “That would be a fun car to have” and then I looked up US sales volumes (ex. 235 in 2006CY) and then said to myself “hmmm… low volume – I wonder if parts are expensive” and then I went to rockauto.com and saw that a thermostat for a 2006MY W12 Phaeton is $270.79 with a choice of one (when Stant’s premium “Superstat” is $4.72 for my son’s 2006MY Chevy with 13 others to choose from) and then I thought, “No, probably not.”

      [A set of catalytic converters (there are six of them) for the 2006MY W12 Phaeton comes to $5,793.74 plus a $1,260 core charge, if they were in stock which half of them are not.]

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