I’ve been waiting a while to drive VW’s new flagship and the spiritual successor to the now departed CC, the 2019 VW Arteon, a rakish and stylish 4 door hatchback that is, in my opinion, the best looking car in its segment. With the Arteon, VW is aiming at luxury rivals like 4 Series Gran Coupe which is a fairly bold move since it sets itself up against the A5 Sportback, albeit at a cheaper price point. The Arteon certainly stands out, during the week I had it I had several people took photos at stop lights and pointed a lot……..it turns heads like no other VW has before.
Under the hood is a de-tuned version of the Golf R engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque @ 1,950 rpm mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a perfect combination especially since it comes with standard DCC adaptive chassis control that allows the driver to configure the vehicle’s running gear for “normal,” “comfort,” or “sport” driving. The comfort mode helps even out bumpy roads, while Sport mode helps stiffen damping to create a more direct connection between the driver and the road.
The Arteon rides on Volkswagen’s now ubiquitous MQB platform, which also underpins the Golf and now offers 4Motion, an option that was checked on my SE tester and standard on higher spec models. Of course adding all-wheel drive also reduces the EPA fuel economy estimates slightly, the front-wheel drive Arteon returns 22 miles per gallon city and 31 mpg highway, while AWD models are rated at 20 city and 27 highway mpg. I’d choose the AWD option and pay for a bit more fuel.
Having a standard 8 speed auto makes progress smoother than the 7 speed DSG offered on Euro models we may have been able to eek out a faster time than we did for our acceleration runs. The best we could do with Sport mode selected and traction control off was 0-60 in 6 seconds, 2 tenths slower than the Passat V6 we tested earlier this year.
How Does It Go?
Once on the move the turbo 4 provides ample power especially in the mid-range and the eight-speed transmission provides smooth precise shifts, especially in Normal Drive mode. Stomp on the go pedal though and there is a somewhat annoying lag before you surge forward, lessened it seems in Normal mode versus Sport. It not super thrilling, it’s no Golf it R, but in Sport mode will hustle through the bends and moves down the road with satisfying poise and confidence.
The Arteon’s steering is well weighted and precise and even though the car rolls a little, it also grips with tenacity thanks to the 4Motion system and it has the chassis balance to get to the center of a tight bend even if you’re a tad ambitious with your entry speed.
Brake-based torque vectoring keeps the handling in check and body roll is well sorted in Sport mode, in the other modes the body leans a bit more but the suspension is more forgiving. I did find I spent more time in Comfort mode with no decrease in driving pleasure during the week. Brakes provide very good stopping power although did get quite hot on a downhill run from up in the mountains back to San Diego. Overall this engine pairs well with this car and provides enough power for almost every driving situation, and the engine stop/start system is less intrusive than other systems I have used.
The Arteon doesn’t quite wow as much as it’s sculptured exterior does, but the materials are top notch and my tester had black leatherette seats with 12 way power with gray inserts, some faux carbon-fiber and piano-black trim, a black headliner and aluminum sill plates. The passenger has to make do with manual seats and the overall feel is very businesslike. I’m sure the SEL version with leather seats ups the luxury feel but neither offer cooled seats which is a miss for hotter climates. The front chairs are comfortable and provide good side bolstering when you’re exercising your right foot and the rear seat occupants get more room than most of the competition and plenty of headroom.
The center console is dominated by a large, high-resolution touch screen that is quick to respond to inputs. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Arteons, and although 2 USB points are offered there are none in the rear.
Standard driver aids on my base SE model include autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, and rear cross traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is standard on the mid-level SEL, while the range-topping SEL Premium adds lane-keep assist, automatic high beams, a surround-view camera system, and Parking Steering Assistant.
Cargo space is impressive with 27 ft³ available and a massive 55 ft³ if you lay the rear seats flat, giving you as much or more space than most SUVs.
Despite declining sales for cars VW is trying to buck the trend and what they have created in the Arteon is a very stylish sedan that’s very pleasant to drive and thanks to the hatchback trunk opening, surprisingly practical. Add to that Volkswagen offers a six-year, 72,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty and unlike most other automakers, VW allows the warranty to be transferred to subsequent owners. I was pretty impressed, this is a great sedan and could find little fault with the car, except please offer a cooled seats option, the leatherette can get quite hot in the Southern California heat.
2019 VW Arteon 2.0T Numbers
BASE PRICE: $38,645
AS TESTED PRICE: $38,645
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE: 2.0 liter turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4
POWER: 268 hp @ 5,500 rpm
TORQUE: 258 lb-ft @ 1,950 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 6.0 sec
TOP SPEED: 127 mph
CURB WEIGHT: 3,854 lbs
CARGO VOLUME: 27.19 ft³, 54.98 ft³ with seat area
EPA COMB/ CITY/HWY: 23/20/27
OUR OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 18.9 MPG
PROS: Adaptive suspension, hatchback versatility, quick and fun to drive
CONS: No seat cooling, turbo lag