2019 VW Arteon Review: A Pinnacle of Panache by Cliff Leppke

Once upon a time, VW built a humble looking car.  That changed when the forever-fashionable Karmann Ghia coupe arrived.  Its Italianate body looked Ferrari fast, elegant and expensive.

For 2019, VW offers a new couture creation:  the Arteon, a four-door coupe-like vehicle with a liftback.  That and frameless side glass, gem-like body surfaces and Dior-tight panel fit ape the Audi A7 for fewer bucks.  Its full-width grille with effective LED headlamps looks like Kabuki mask after a Bauhaus makeover.  The clamshell-like knee-low hood has a built-in pedestrian protection system.

Because Arteons don’t share their metal skins with VW’s sedans, their fastback silhouettes look cohesive.  No automotive gerrymandering, here.  Compared with the old VW CC, this one dons a stretched wheelbase.  Thus, there’s more rear legroom under the rakish roof.  Headroom is sufficient, too.

Push the logo-motion VW rondel on the rear lid and tug.  You’ll open access to an expansive trunk with a premium rug.  Few new vehicles put this much class at their backs.

The Areton is sporty; not a sports car.  It steers precisely, but pushes when things get twisty.   Maintaining a dignified quick clip on highways, however, is its forte.  It whispers with barely any wind rush.  A pushbutton lets you recalibrate shock damping and steering effort.  The 245/45R18 Conti ProContacts clop rudely in sport.

There are 268 turbocharged ponies under the bonnet.  My tester routed those stallions via an eight-speed automatic to the wheels via 4Motion all-wheel-drive.  When prodded, those equine posers are gruff.  Power is certainly adequate.  The vehicle weighs 3,854 lbs.  At 70 mph, the mill loafs at 1,850 rpm.

Duck in.  Its dashing interior décor is a tick up the luxury motoring ladder.  Two front power adjusting seals provide equal rights (same height, lumbar and backrest adjustments).  Their kinked pleats, which echo the grille, are supportive.  An analogue-style clock punctuates the dashboard’s Noirish horizontal vent slats.

Wood-tone inlays flank an eight-inch touchscreen with volume and tuning knobs.  Soft-touch materials cover the dash and door cards.  CarPlay and Android Auto are included.   There’s a phone tray below the center stack plus USB and 12-Volt ports.

VW’s bright digital cockpit resembles a Best Buy TV showroom. One must wend through the infotainment screen’s menus in order to tweak instrument brightness.  Convenience items include self-folding mirrors, a driver’s seat with memory and radar cruise control.

The aft pew has a designated center seating position—adults may apply.  This section’s arm rest folds opening a slot for skis or gutters.

Fuel economy crested at 26.5 mpg overall.  Its EPA numbers: 20 city, 27 highway and 23 combined, burning recommended but not required premium fuel.

The $42,790 Arteon is nicely trimmed and smoothly powered.  It’s VW’s automotive pinnacle of panache, a charming set of wheels for Euro-discerning shoppers.