A work of Arteon

2021 VW Arteon. Metro Creative News photo
2021 VW Arteon. Metro Creative News photo

Volkswagen’s flagship sedan has Audi-like looks

This week’s review requires some little-known bits of information. Miscellaneous info No. 1: I took seven years of Latin throughout my schooling. Little-known factoid No. 2: Audi is the luxury brand of Volkswagen. What is the connection between these two arbitrary and pointless pieces of info? Hold on, loyal readers, I’m getting there.

This week’s tester is the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon. It’s a weird name that has a Latin basis. The Latin word for art is Artem, so it’s close to the Arteon, which is way more artsy and stunning than some of the other cars from Volkswagen. In fact it looks more like an Audi than a Volkswagen. See how I tied it all together there?

Since Audi is Volkswagen’s more-luxurious sibling, it makes sense for the sporty look of the A7 to influence the newer Arteon, which also has sportback styling. Volkswagen has tried such boldness on their sedan line in the past and failed miserably. Google VW Phaeteon and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Is the Arteon destined for the same fate as the Phaeteon? Maybe, but that’s only if the consumer is put off by the name or doesn’t give this work-of-art on wheels a chance.

The gorgeous styling of the Arteon makes it the best-looking Volkswagen car in years. VW has found its groove in the styling department with its SUV line and now the Arteon. Hopefully in the future the Jetta and Passat can find some of that juju too. As it stands, the Arteon is well named as it’s the only Volkswagen sedan with any exciting artistic appeal.

The grille is sexy and vibrant with a luxury vibe. The profile has an exciting look with design elements that add distinction. The slope of the roofline gives it a sleek overall appearance. The back side has a little less distinction and styling, but still just enough personality to be appealing, including dual exhaust pipes that almost resemble USB connections.

As is the trend right now, the Arteon has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that cranks out 268 horsepower. With a car this size, that 268 hp feels more like 300 or more. My tester came with the optional all-wheel drive (which VW calls 4motion). The eight-speed automatic transmission is outstanding.

The responsive steering feels very European (and that’s a good thing). There are three drive settings including Normal, Comfort and Sport that change up the dynamics. Honestly, all three modes have their merits and make the Arteon almost three different cars in one.

Inside, the Audi comparisons continue. Although there’s a clear difference between the two, but if you’re used to the ho-hum interior of other VW cars, you will be impressed with the Arteon’s touchpoints and quality. The cabin is quiet and comfortable.

The sloping styling is conducive to extra rear cargo room as evidenced by the 27.2 cubic foot trunk. Rear seats can fold down maximizing the cargo area to 55 cubic feet. The rear seat has ample leg and shoulder room, but the sloping styling does inhibit rear headroom. Let the taller passengers sit up front and it will be fine.

Volkswagen’s digital cockpit reminds me of Audi’s system which is a good thing. It’s slightly cumbersome and overengineered, but once you learn all the nuances it becomes impressive. The 12.3-inch display is responsive and does offer a combination of knobs as well as touch commands.

There are only two trim options (SE and SEL). My tester which was the SEL did come with Volkswagen’s R-Line which comes with special wheels, AWD, special interior trim and overall sportier feel. The R-Line is the way to go for the Arteon to feel extra “Audi-like.”

My tester had an MSRP of $44,590. The base trim Arteon can be had for under $37,000.

The all-wheel drive Arteon has an EPA rating of 20 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of mostly suburban driving I averaged 25 mpg.

If the VW Arteon is a poor man’s Audi, then that’s a fair comparison. It has a weird name and gets very little publicity by Volkswagen, but the Arteon is the most exciting car to come from VW in several years.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Volkswagen Arteon SEL R-Line

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $44,590/$44,590
  • Mileage.......................................... 20 mpg/city; 31 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 268 hp/258 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Emden, Germany