The new Volkswagen Arteon may not necessarily be a huge seller in the U.S., but it will serve an important role: drawing attention to the VW brand.
“It stands for our brand-shaper of the brand, on top of the Passat,” says Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen North American Region. “I would say the flagship in terms of styling and sportiness.”
With its strong exterior lines and four door coupe-like roofline, the Arteon puts design first, just like the CC before it. Though its rear door is hinged at the roofline and opens upward, liftback style, Volkswagen is loathe to use the word “hatchback” for the Arteon, referring to it instead as a “coupe sedan.”
“It’s the most beautiful coupe you find in the lineup,” says Woebcken.
Yet despite that clear positioning as a designed-focused step above the traditional Passat three-box sedan, Woebcken promises the Arteon will not too expensive – “very similar,” he says, to other fully loaded midsize sedans.
“If you look at it, you wonder why it isn’t twice the price,” he says. “I believe it’s a very good price-performance package in that category of cars.”
That’s not to say there is no practicality offered in the Arteon. Woebcken is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, yet says he finds the back seat of the car comfortable. And he notes that the availability of 4Motion is an important distinguisher when so few sedans in that size and price range offer all-wheel drive.
“A coupe that comes with all-wheel drive is pretty cool,” he says.
There will be just one powertrain for the Arteon in this market, the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four already announced to offer 268 horsepower. No other engines are planned – and Woebcken also specifically rules out an electric version of the car.
The car also will not be the company’s top-selling model here, but that’s OK so long as it helps get potential shoppers interested in VW as a whole.
“The Arteon is a niche volume,” Woebcken says.
With the Arteon set to hit U.S. showrooms this summer, don’t think that Volkswagen has forgotten about the Passat, which remains one of its biggest sellers. As the company announced in Detroit, an all-new Passat is due next year. And Woebcken wants to emphasize that it will not simply be an elongated version of the new Jetta.
“I can tell you the successor of the Passat … It’s going to be a great successor, and absolutely you will see a different shape from what it has now,” he says.