2019 Volkswagen Arteon Review: Designed For Styling, Not Selling

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The new Volkswagen Arteon is a stunning car that delivers styling and content like few other cars.

I’ll skip the part where I bring up that cars, as a whole, have lost to utility vehicles. I’ll go right ahead and say that the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is an exceptional flagship automobile that will unfortunately be all be completely ignored by the car-buying public. VW thought of this, which is why we will soon be welcoming the new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.


The bigger-midsize sedan segment

2019 Volkswagen Arteon | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Mild kidding aside, there is good reason to continue to offer a midsize quasi-luxury car today as cars still account for more than four out of 10 new vehicles sold in North America. I may not have actual figures but out of the four-and-change cars sold, less than a fraction of a tenth of a percent happen to be members of the Arteon’s distinguished category.

Among the VW’s foes, you will find the Nissan Maxima, the Kia Stinger, the Toyota Avalon as well as the Dodge Charger. The Charger is to odd one here for a number of reasons including age but its popularity and appeal remain undeniable. I recently reviewed a 2020 Maxima SR, although I enjoyed it, it’s wrong for 2020. The Avalon may well be my favorite Toyota but the true competitive pair is the Stinger and the Arteon.

The similarities are unquestionable, as are the dissimilarities. Many do not realize both of these cars are, in actuality, 5-door hatchbacks. This allows the Arteon to swallow up to 770 litres of gear in its boot! This number is greater than many compact and even midsize SUVs. What’s more, the cabin is quite spacious for four adults, especially for those with long legs.


Priced and loaded accordingly

2019 Volkswagen Arteon | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Standard features are numerous, but then they should be given the 2019 VW Arteon’s base price of $47,995. VW Canada wisely decided to limit this car’s trim levels to Execline with only two option packages to select from. The first is the Driver Assist package which, for $2,095, includes park and lane assist and a surround view camera arrangement. The second is the R-Line group that encompasses dark grey 20-inch wheels, R-Line logos everywhere, a flat-bottom steering, black headline and more. The $2,995 cost is worthy. My Chili Red test featured both for a total of $53,085. I’d skip the Drive Ass’ package…

With only one trim, this means that all VW Arteons are delivered with the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, a driver seat massage function, a power liftgate, heated and cooled (front) leather seats, a 8-inch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Dynaudio audio, keyless access, and loads more kit.


Gorgeousness everywhere

2019 Volkswagen Arteon | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

One no-cost feature is the Arteon’s exceptional styling, both inside and out. VW designers combined the simplicity of modern VW dashboards with some unique Audi-inspired touches such as the continuous vents bezels from one end to another up front. Here, the Kia Stinger differs with an extra spartan approach and presentation.

The VW Arteon will forever be remembered for its bold 4-door coupe (in popular speak) exterior design. Its profile is trendy, certainly, but the highlight is without a doubt the car’s front fascia. The combination of the near seamless grille-headlight integration and wraparound hood would normally be reserved for concepts. The hatch is certainly an attractive piece, with its discreet integrated rear spoiler. I do also love the frameless doors!


Turbo and AWD

2019 Volkswagen Arteon | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Like the 2020 Kia Stinger, the Volkswagen Arteon is gifted with standard AWD and a boosted engine. VW’s 4MOTION AWD is attached to an 8-speed automatic transmission and the TSI turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. With 268-horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, the Arteon is a decently quick car.

Despite the generous output, the VW is not the fastest among its peers but the overall performance is entertaining. Another element included with the car is VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control with adaptive and adjustable dampers. Controlled through the drive modes, they enable the Arteon to behave like a luxury sedan. At the push of the center column mounted button, reflexes are sharpened but truthfully speaking, the Arteon is not a sporty car. It handles admirably well and loves to cruise, much like the Kia, but its near 3,900 lb. curb weight is never completely invisible.


Sweet car, sour pricing

2019 Volkswagen Arteon | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Among its direct competitors, as mentioned above, the Volkswagen Arteon is the most interesting pick. Its price tag, however, nudges it among the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and others. Worse, it is priced dangerously close to compact luxury SUVs which will almost always be favoured.

Once more though, in its category, it is the more interesting alternative and I suspect, given that it will be a very rare sight, may become a classic. I can’t imagine VW will have a second go at the car, much like the Kia Stinger.

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