Sedans are a dying breed, and that’s the sad truth at least in some parts of the world. SUVs, however, are dominating the car industry, favoured for their road presence and practicality. At the same time, more urban consumers opt for small and efficient compact hatches. But, for those of us who still love the essence of a sedan, Volkswagen has thrown us a bone and premiered their heavily updated Arteon sedan, available as a Fastback, and for the more cultured enthusiast - a Shooting Brake wagon.
First unveiled in 2017, the Arteon was billed as a four-door coupe based on the traditional Passat three-box sedan. Introduced solely as a fastback, the Arteon took inspiration from its cousin, the Audi A5 Sportback, showing that Wolfsburg had what it took to bring sexy back. For its mid-life update, Volkswagen upped the ante by introducing new design cues and a plug-in hybrid powertrain, wrapped up in the familiar fastback, or an all-new and oh-so-voluptuous shooting brake body style.
The Arteon has always been a stylish vehicle, with a distinctive front fascia. The new update further adds to the visual pizzazz, with a redesigned chrome front grille that incorporates a full length LED light strip that stretches across the entire front grille. The restyled air intakes integrate seamlessly into the lower front bumper, creating a low and wide stance, befitting the Arteon’s sporty nature.
Although a traditional estate would look somewhat boxy and cumbersome, the Arteon Shooting Brake is anything but. With the body-line seemingly traced from the Fastback, the Shooting Brake’s roof and window lines are extended all the way to the rear and topped off with a roof spoiler. The bottom strip of chrome window surrounds tapers upwards at the D-pillar, creating this low and sleek silhouette. The curvaceous tailgate is a trademark characteristic of a shooting brake design.
The Arteon isn’t all show and no go, with the stand out feature being the debut of a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the sporty sedan. Plug-in hybrid systems have been all the summer’s rage this year, with the German manufacturers looking to electrify more and more of their model lineups. The Arteon eHybrid will be available for both the fastback and shooting brake variants, which are among the first luxury mid-sized sedans to feature such a powertrain.
There are no details of the powertrain released officially. Still, we can assume that the Arteon eHybrid would feature the similar 1.4-litre TSI 4-cylinder and 12.7kW battery found in the Volkswagen Passat GTE sister model. Mated to the seven-speed DSG transmission sending power to the front wheels, the Arteon packs a combined system output of 215hp and an electric-only range of 55km.
The Arteon’s interior features a newly designed cockpit with a new multi-functional steering wheel featuring new touch-sensitive controls. The Arteon’s infotainment system now features wireless integration for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as an optional 700-watt Harman Kardon surround sound system. Volkswagen has equipped the Arteon with background lighting available in 30 different colours, replacing any need for chrome trim pieces to liven up the interior.
Over in the rear, the Arteon features 1,061mm of legroom, courtesy of VW’s modular transverse matrix (MQB) chassis. The somewhat compromised headroom of the Fastback is duly addressed with the Shooting Brake design given its much higher roofline.
The luggage space in both the Fastback and Shooting Brake are surprisingly similar, with the Shooting brake only having an additional two litres of cargo capacity at 565 litres. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats open up the luggage capacity to 1,557 litres for the Fastback, with the Shooting Brake leaping ahead with 1,632 litres.
One of the main updates in the technology department is the inclusion of the IQ.DRIVE assist system. The new Travel Assist system enables partly automated driving up to 210kph, as well as being able to navigate stop-go traffic with ease. The Arteon’s adaptive cruise control is also capable of reading speed signs, as well as tackling towns, junctions and roundabouts. Lane Keep Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring round up the features of the Travel Assist driving system. Surprisingly, the reversing camera is an optional extra. Still, it does come with enhanced features such as a wide-angle Corner View and a trailer view to facilitate hitching up any trailers.
Although Volkswagen Malaysia has yet to announce any plans to bring in this updated version of the Arteon, the current generation Arteon is still a very desirable vehicle. Though the eHybrid powertrain may not make it to our shores, the range-topping Arteon R, with the R-Performance Torque Vectoring system, promises a dynamic driving experience. And they will all be wrapped up in a stylish and practical package, well-suited to the needs of the local clientele.