A Golf GTI in a tuxedo. That’s the best way to describe the Volkswagen Arteon. It’s sophisticated and balanced, yet more practical than many crossovers. The way the Arteon moves down the road is textbook Volkswagen, meaning it’s a great all-around do-everything vehicle. That alone is the reason why it’s the blueprint for the brand’s future electric flagship. A car that should blend eye-catching looks, pleasant road manners, and practicality.
Driving the Volkswagen Arteon immediately emphasizes its luxed-up Golf GTI character. Accurate, connected steering lets you know where the car is going while adaptive dampers provide confidence without losing compliance even with the 20-inch wheels on our SEL Premium R Line test car. The result is a mid-size hatchback with agile handling and a cushy ride befitting the Arteon’s flagship status. Minimal body roll prevents the car from flopping around everywhere.
Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbo-four, which makes 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in this application, adds to the Arteon’s calm and cool character. Minimal turbo lag yields even power delivery for effortless motivation even in a car that weighs over 3,800 pounds. The eight-speed automatic could respond sooner when you put your foot down but it’s mostly smooth in operation regardless of the drive mode currently selected. Should you want to personalize every aspect of the car’s behavior, you can do so via custom mode to mix and match every setting from the powertrain to the adaptive dampers and steering.
The latest iteration of Volkswagen’s driver assistance features is now among the best. They’re gentle with their inputs when re-centering you or guiding you through turns, preventing them from getting distracting. Travel Assist, which bundles together adaptive cruise control, lane centering, traffic jam assist, and steering assist, works exceptionally well. Precise yet smooth acceleration and braking inputs allow it to flow with traffic seamlessly. The distancing component leaves enough space between you and the vehicle ahead for emergency maneuvers even in its closest setting but not so much so that someone else can cut you off.
Despite the Arteon’s coupe-like roofline, five people fit comfortably and cargo capacity is massive even with all seats up. Fit and finish are solid with lots of soft-touch materials and padding on nearly every surface. Generous sound insulation keeps the cabin quiet and serene even at highway speeds. Volkswagen’s multimedia system is mostly easy to use thanks to the responsive 8.0-inch touch screen and the cool digital gauge cluster, which displays information clearly and logically. However, the haptic feedback the climate controls, and steering wheel buttons could be a little more intuitive. The latter needs clearer indentations so you don’t accidentally press a different button than you intended.
When you take the Arteon as a whole package, it has the components for a proper next-generation electrified flagship, which is likely being developed under Project Trinity. This sedan takes an already winning formula and adds sophistication and style. Electrifying this combo with the ID.4 AWD’s 302-hp dual-motor setup and an 82-kWh lithium-ion battery could result in a well-rounded sedan with generous range. The only thing that needs to be addressed is to make the multimedia interface and controls less distracting to use since it’s already responsive and intuitive.
Since the sedan segment isn’t as big as it used to be, a low-slung, electric four-door that does nearly everything well could give Volkswagen a compelling entry. Evolving the Arteon formula into a no-compromise EV could add diversity to Volkswagen’s future all-electric lineup. Together with the ID.4 and the production version of the ID Buzz, Volkswagen will have something for every type of consumer. Will the Arteon name remain? Is this the next evolution of the Passat? Or will it be part of the ID family? The third option seems most likely. Regardless of what the electric sedan will be called, it’ll be a proper Volkswagen, especially from a driving perspective.