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The gorgeous 2019 Volkswagen Arteon reaches into luxury territory

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 6 days ago Andrew Wendler
a car parked on a city street: Gorgeous and priced between the mainstream and luxury segments, Volkswagen’s Arteon launches boldly into a shrinking sedan market. © Daniel Byrne - Car and Driver Gorgeous and priced between the mainstream and luxury segments, Volkswagen’s Arteon launches boldly into a shrinking sedan market.

Billed as the spiritual successor to the departed CC sedan, the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon arrives on our shores just in time to witness the demise of its species. The buying public's love affair with the crossover shows no sign of abating anytime soon, and sedans have been the big losers. We admire VW for staying the course with the Arteon. It's positioned as the brand's flagship vehicle in the states, Volkswagen believing that the Arteon's upscale exterior, high feature content, and German-built pedigree will appeal to traditional-sedan customers who desire a subtle touch of exclusivity, luxury, and design.

But that same strategy failed to earn either of VW's upmarket reaches, the Phaeton and CC, many sales. In the U.S., Volkswagen's expectations are tempered accordingly. Kai Oltmanns, the car's project manager, admitted that while under-the-radar premium vehicles like the Arteon are desirable in Europe, "We don't see it as a big volume-seller in the U.S."

The Arteon is available in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. An entry front-drive SE starts at $36,840, and top-tier SEL Premium models begin at $45,940. VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive comes standard on the latter but requires an extra $1800 on the lower trims.

a car parked on a city street: 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is Hot, Reaches for Luxury © Daniel Byrne - Car and Driver 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is Hot, Reaches for Luxury

Part of the Arteon's novelty is its Tesla Model S–like hatchback body. The car is slightly shorter than the Passat but stretches 2.3 inches beyond the old CC's length. That lands it between two other VW Group beauties, the Audi A5 Sportback and the A7. Interior design and appointments offer quality feel, fit, and finish without straying into opulence. VW managed to carve out plenty of interior room from the rakish profile, leaving enough front-seat space for a pair of corn-fed, six-foot-plus Midwesterners to ride in comfort without suffering the indignity of physical contact. Rear seating is similarly accommodating, the same individuals finding more legroom than in the Passat.

An Aisin eight-speed automatic transaxle pairs with Volkswagen's turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter inline-four as the sole powertrain. Rated at 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the 2.0T produces considerably more power than it did in the CC, which made 200 horses and 207 pound-feet of torque. But the powertrain is tuned for efficiency and refinement rather than acts of aggression. Acceleration is a bit soft off the line, but the engine gathers steam determinedly. Sixty miles per hour arrives in 6.0 seconds, a half-second less expedient than a front-drive Honda Accord 2.0T equipped with a 10-speed automatic.

a close up of a car: 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is Hot, Reaches for Luxury © Daniel Byrne - Car and Driver 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is Hot, Reaches for Luxury

Adaptive dampers react to changing road surfaces and driver inputs to provide a smooth ride. Pushing hard on the Arteon reveals mild understeer, but the car's brake-based torque vectoring helps tuck the nose.

While competent and blessed with GTI-like steering, the Arteon poses no threat to the current order of sports sedans. What it does do is provide a compelling package for discerning buyers who admire style for its own sake. But the biggest question facing the Arteon's maker is the same one all manufacturers of large sedans must answer: Can cars this shape, despite throngs of consumers voting otherwise, remain relevant? With its attractive styling, upscale driving experience, and generous space, the Arteon has us hoping so.

Luxury cars to check out in 2019 (MSN) 

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