Behind the Wheel

2019 Volkswagen Arteon Review: VW phones it in with its latest sedan

The Volkswagen Arteon is the automaker's new premium sedan.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Look at the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon and you have an idea of what it is. Driving it, your suspicions are confirmed. The Arteon is just another Volkswagen sedan. Nothing about it creates a visceral reaction for the driver nor does it excite. The Arteon simply exists.

Taking a look at the sales numbers, Volkswagen customers don't seem too thrilled with the new addition to the VW lineup. It's selling only marginally better than Fiat's core models through the third quarter of 2019. The Arteon is the worst-selling Volkswagen model in the U.S. that isn't the discontinued Touareg or CC.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon The fastback model has a low and wide stance.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

There are plenty of reasons to be non-plussed about the Arteon, which competes directly with the Audi A5, Genesis G70, B W 3-Series, and Kia Stinger in price point and market positioning. At its front, the model shares looks with the rest of the Volkswagen family, which has become increasingly boring to look at. This from a company that made its name selling the Rabbit, Karmann Ghia, and Thing.

It has a low and wide stance, which is exactly the direction many new sedans are going these days. Its wide crossbar grille extends across the front of the vehicle giving the front a segmented by cohesive look that is reminiscent of the ugly dashboard int he Lexus LS. The Arteon comes standard with LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights. Premium accents like puddle lights and power-folding side mirrors are available as you move up in trim levels.

The front-wheel drive Arteon has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood that is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission here in the U.S. It produces 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is a fine amount but not enough to release any endorphins.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon The long bars of the grille carry over into the headlight design of the Arteon.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Its handling isn't particularly engaging nor is it dull. Middle of the road is what Volkswagen seems to like to be with their sedans and they've done it again here.

A manual transmission is available in the car Europe and it shows in the Arteon's center console styling. The console top lays lower than the position of the average American car, which would be great for drivers who needed to rest their elbow near the shifter on the ready.

Other than that quibble, the interior remains functionally appropriate though its aesthetics and materials choices are not optimal. Simply put, the Arteon looks designed straight from the Volkswagen parts bin and serves as a reminder that there are other, more nicely appointed vehicles a buyer could choose from.

The car's 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit is a highlight, replacing the instrument panel, and the standard 8-inch infotainment touch screen is as status quo as they come for Volkswagen. It's completely function and for most buyers, that's exactly what they're looking for.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon The interior of the Arteon is completely function but it doesn't excite.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Arteon is available with rear climate controls which are a nice touch and Nappa leather upholstery is also available in higher grades. That finery can't hide the Arteon's general lack of comfortable seating space. On the upside, there's a good amount of passenger and cargo space.

The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon starts at $35,845 but climbs close to $50,000 when you opt for higher trims and premium add-ons. Driving a Arteon makes one wonder what else is out there. In an evolving car market space where Hyundai is taking design and innovation risks that are paying off while Nissan and Toyota are adding value to their models at every turn, it's hard to reconcile settling for the Arteon. It's not surprising that most customers are passing it by.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Audi is adding sport versions of its all-electric SUV to their portfolio.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi models badged with an "S" or "RS" are the sportiest the German automaker offers. Nearly every model in the lineup has such a variant, some more than one. With four-wheels delivering instant power to the pavement, it should serve as no surprise that the company is rolling out sport-tuned versions of their E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback.

The 2021 Audi E-Tron S and E-Tron S Sportback are the first all-electric Audi models to earn that distinction. The models will have there electric motors (one up front and two in the rear) and a battery that combine to produce 496 horsepower and up to 717 pound-feet of torque, which is available for an eight-second boost period.

The battery has a 95-kilowatt hour capacity with 91 percent usability. On a full charge, the Audi e‑tron S and the Audi e‑tron S Sportback can achieve ranges of up to 223 miles and 226 miles (WLTP).

When the car is operating in normal drive mode, just the rear motors are working. The the driver requires more performance, the front one kicks in. There is no mechanical differential in the all-wheel drive SUVs so torque vectoring takes place in just milliseconds at a very high threshold. Other drive modes including "Sport" and "Dynamic".

Each model has been given "S" specific tuning as well as the ability to adjust the height of the SUV. Owners can store up to seven driver profiles.

The profile of the vehicles has changed as part of "S" modifications with wider wheel arches. The E-Tron S Sportback is more aerodynamic than the E-Tron S. Both models have special front and rear bumper with pronounced contours and prominent inlets. A rear diffuser spans nearly the entire width of both bodies. The models have silver and aluminum exterior detailing and mirror housings, respectively.

Digital Matrix LED headlights are an option. The smart lights can project guides onto the road to show a car's position in a lane on a narrow street.

The SUVs' cabins are equipped with dark upholstery and finishes. Electrically adjustable sport seats finished in Nappa leather are available.

The center stack features two touch screens to control traditional infotainment and climate control functionalities. A head-up display is available. Navigation and the latest modular infotainment platform (MIB 3) are standard.

On-sale dates for the U.S. and pricing have yet to be announced.

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