Some brands may be forsaking the 4-door, but Volkswagen stays the course with the Arteon, an aggressively styled gran turismo that arrived in spring with a starting price of $35,845, about $10,000 more than the Passat mainstream sedan.
It sits low to the pavement and projects an upscale vibe with creased sheetmetal, fastback elegance, stylized wheels and an appropriately upscale interior that is warm and inviting.
And the Arteon’s excellent user experience seals the deal with a well-organized and easy to navigate 8-in. (20-cm) capacitive touchscreen with haptic feedback; the brilliant, reconfigurable 12.3-in. (31-cm) VW Digital Cockpit gauge cluster; dependable stop-and-go adaptive cruise control; crisp, high-resolution rearview camera and – something everyone can appreciate – a polite reminder not to leave your smartphone in the car.
At startup, an icon of the car in the cluster spins as if on a holographic turntable, and the R-Line logo is part of the introductory sequence, setting it apart from other Arteon trim levels. (We tested a ’19 Arteon 2.0T SEL R-Line with 4Motion all-wheel drive stickering at $44,055.)
The instrument panel (pictured below) was designed to be clean and graceful, and the touchscreen is ergonomically placed for easy access for both driver and passenger.
Visually stunning in the touchscreen are the artistic images displayed as the driver scrolls through available driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Custom), which adjusts transmission shift points, throttle response and suspension stiffness.
In Sport mode, a motion-blurred racetrack appears; In Eco, it’s leaves and a windmill. The Custom screen is the most beautiful of all: a wintery mountainous snowscape.
Look closer and you’ll realize these lovely scenes are projected onto an image of the Arteon’s door and rocker panel – truly an example of surprise and delight.
A highlight with the touchscreen, which has impressed us in other recent Volkswagens, is the row of icons that appear only when a hand is detected to be moving toward it. The result is an uncluttered touchscreen that displays certain content only when needed.
The touchscreen is standard on all Arteons, part of VW’s innovative MIB II infotainment system that includes three USB ports in SEL premium models (lower trims get two). The system can pair two phones simultaneously – our testing found pairing to be a breeze (pictured below) – and can send and receive text messages with Bluetooth-compatible phones.
Voice navigation works well, and the intelligent system readily displays possible destinations based on often used routes.
The high-resolution Digital Cockpit renders details with extreme precision, and drivers can choose from five different info display profiles to prioritize navigation directions, entertainment, telephone contacts or driver-assistance technologies in use.
There’s a wealth of connectivity available through VW’s Car-Net system, which is standard on all Arteon models and lets the driver run select smartphone apps directly on the vehicle display screen by integrating Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
Consumers also can send a location from their connected smart device to the vehicle navigation system on select models.
The in-vehicle nav system offers fuel prices, sports scores, movie information and weather data as part of a three-month SiriusXM Travel Link trial, as well as real-time traffic information included in a three-month SiriusXM Traffic trial.
Driver-assistance features are plentiful on the Arteon, including large, bright amber lights placed inside the external mirrors (pictured above) to shine when a vehicle has crept into the blindspot on either side.
Another cutting-edge and thoughtful ADAS feature: post-collision braking to automatically stop the Arteon after a crash so it doesn’t strike another vehicle or object, as often happens.
Also available are forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, an overhead view camera, rear traffic alert and lane-assist lane keeping.
VW positions the Arteon to compete against near-luxury rivals such as the Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, Kia Stinger and Nissan Maxima, and an impressive array of top-notch UX technologies gives the Arteon a fighting chance.