The current Volkswagen CC, the long-wheelbase Passat with the "stylized sweeping roofline," is not the last word in car design. At some point, even Volkswagen had to realize how boring it was. Otherwise, they couldn't have come up with a successor launched in Turmeric Yellow. Also known as Curcuma, or gold, if you prefer not to beat around the bush. But call it what you will, the car under the paint is a more upscale proposition than the CC, with a price tag still kept in the $35,000 range. And for that kind of money, the Arteon has to be the prettiest four-door on the market.
Note: The Arteon is due on the U.S. market in mid-2018. The TDI model we drove is European-spec.
This is confirmed by the number of heads turned towards it on the road. Granted, the wild color helps, but VW's latest peek into entry-level Audi territory is definitely a conversation starter. This car stands out in a general parking lot, instantly triggering interest.
But being a sedan, perhaps the Arteon's most important upgrade is the 5.2-inch increase in wheelbase compared to the outgoing CC. The result is that, while the roofline may still compromise rear headroom, the extra space means you can sit two tall adults in the back with ease. And it will swallow their bags too. Lifting up the hatchback, we threw in a long weekend's worth of luggage for three, literally. The trunk is simply huge, and if you need more, the 60/40-split rear seats allow the car to carry 55 cubic feet of your stuff, including items as long as 80 inches.
Once in the driver's seat, the nodding continues. As tested, the Arteon came with a 9.2-inch center touchscreen with gesture controls. The system works well, and despite the fact that once it reaches America, the screen will shrink to eight inches with physical knobs, optioned with the 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit, the cabin shouldn't disappoint.
As long as you don't look too often at the dollar-store clock in the middle, of course. That piece of quartz magnificence looks even cheaper than what it must cost, but after all these years, I must assume this feature to be something expected from a V-Dub.
With its headlamps smoothly integrated into the grille, the Arteon looks wider than it is, further enhancing the sporty image. Fire up the 2.0 turbodiesel though, and the driving experience will be anything but GTI-threatening. Instead, with the smooth and well-programmed DSG automatic, the Arteon TDI is a proper all-wheel drive long-range cruiser.
That's clearly what it was designed to do in the first place: Rule the longer routes both on and off the highways as a quiet, neutral GT that likes to cross countries without using as much fuel as a gas-powered supermini would.
Sure enough, 240 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque can motivate it to move faster if you're in a hurry, but the TDI's real treat is the range it provides.
Throughout the week, our average was 43 miles per gallon, with three adults on board, climbing up and down mountains when not keeping pace on the highway. The Arteon did it all while looking the part, pleasing us with its clear navigation and decent sound system. There's really not much more one could want from a fairly base four-cylinder sedan.
Sadly, diesels are done in America, thanks to none other than Volkswagen itself. That means the 2019 Arteon will get the 2.0 gasoline engine instead, with 276 hp and 258 lb-ft., but certainly nowhere near the fuel economy.
Still, whatever engine is up front until the electric motors take over completely, the Arteon is a noticeable step up from its predecessor, and a car worth trying out if Audi prices seem unjustified for a moment. Just go for the R-Design package, and enjoy the extra legroom. It's only a matter of time before somebody does a Golf R swap anyway.