The 2021 Arteon is updated visually and with more tech.
The cool R-Line option is now standard in Canada, and included in all trims except the SE in the US.
Power from the 2.0T is unchanged.
No Hybrid or Shooting Brake for North America.
Volkswagen used more or less the same line when they unveiled the current Passat sedan a few years back: Cars still represent an enormous portion of new vehicle sales in North America every year. Despite the constant decline in deliveries, according to Volkswagen, cars should still account for over 1.5 million new vehicles in 2020 compared to more than 2.6 million SUVs. What does this have to do with the new 2021 Volkswagen Arteon? There’s plenty of room for it to flourish in North America.
R-Line For Almost Everyone
Physically, the 2021 Arteon earns a number of exterior enhancements, most notably upfront with new front bumpers. In the US, the base SE cars will feature a chrome bar above the front spoiler. The R-Line cars, standard in Canada, gain a continuous LED light strip that bisects the grille and larger air intakes. New wheels will join the car in 2021, measuring 18 inches on the SE and SEL R-Line and 20 inches with the SEL Premium R-Line outfit. New colours will come too and include Oryx white, Kings red and Lapiz blue.
The cabin is upgraded with a new touch-sensitive steering wheel, a new Harman-Kardon audio system (which will replace Fender in other models in time), variable ambient mood lighting, all integrated in more premium materials. The very Audi-like air vents are a nice touch too.
More Tech And Kit
In the US, the Arteon will be available as an SE which will include VW’s Digital Cockpit, 4-door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless App Connect will trickle down to “lower” models starting in 2021), wireless charging, an 8-inch screen, and more. The SEL R-Line will add wireless charging, lane-assist, and the R-Line visual enhancements. The SEL Premium R-Line, the only version that will be offered in Canada under the Execline trim, will feature the 20-inch wheels and the Harmon-Kardon audio system.
Volkswagen is aiming this car at driving enthusiasts who crave styling as well. Its competitive set includes the likes of the Kia Stinger, Infiniti Q50, Nissan Maxima, and Acura TLX. With the exception of the Max, all of these cars offer or will offer high-powered powertrain alternatives. The 2021 Volkswagen Arteon will be limited to the same turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine that produces 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and VW’s 4MOTION AWD system.
Pricing has not yet been announced however we assume that the price increase will be minimal over the 2020 car. In Canada, the fully loaded 2021 Execline car should retail for roughly $53,000 CDN. In the US, the 2020 starts at $35,995 without AWD. 4MOTION will be optional on the SEL R-Line and standard with the SEL Premium R-Line. The latter should be priced below $49,000.
The VW Arteon’s Place In This World
For the moment, cars still play an important role for Volkswagen as their line-up still holds more of them compared to SUVs. The Arteon, Passat, Golf, and Jetta outnumber the Tiguan, Atlas Cross Sport, and Atlas but sales volumes are shifting and SUVs are taking over. In Canada, SUVs account for about 40% of sales however in the US, it’s more like 55%, and this will continue.
So where does the Arteon fit in all of this? At the top of VW’s car food chain, as its halo car. Actually, we hesitate to call the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon the company’s halo as, although it pushes styling to the limit, it’s not a performance leader. It could be considered Volkswagen’s flagship model as it is large but it’s far from the most important, or meaningful in the lineup. It’s not an aspirational car either… So, where does it fit?
During our call-in presentation on the new 2021 Arteon, VW representatives spent more time addressing this question than they probably wanted. The best answer was that, because it’s larger and longer than an A5 Sportback, less expensive but about as roomy as an A7, it is a value-packed luxury car with Volkswagen pricing. It also stands out more, by design and relative obscurity, than an Audi A5.
The Arteon Could Be Even More Special
We think that part of the reason behind the grilling questions comes from the fact that the gorgeous Shooting Brake is not slated for our markets. Although few would sell, and it would be costly to bring over, it would certainly further distinguish the Arteon, and make it truly unique, and more halo- and flagship than Volkswagen says it is.
In 2019, in the US, only 2,449 Arteons were sold, In Canada, 456. Although cars still represent an enormous portion of the market, an updated Arteon will unlikely draw traffic into VW showrooms. The German carmaker intends on getting more of them in dealerships to drum up interest however it’s doubtful sales will increase to a level worthy of the car’s suggested standing.
The 2021 Volkswagen Arteon is expected to arrive in the 4th quarter of 2020. Pricing will be revealed closer to the launch date.