I drove the Arteon back in August of last year and enjoyed VWs replacement for the aging CC, although VW says it’s not, instead it’s a brand-new contender that’s intended to elevate VW to a more luxury level, all without treading on Audi’s toes I assume.

It succeeds too, the 2019 VW Arteon is a rakish and stylish 4 door hatchback that is, in my opinion, the best-looking car in its segment. With the Arteon, VW is aiming at luxury rivals like 4 Series Gran Coupe which is a bold move since it sets itself up against the A5 Sportback, albeit at a cheaper price point.

It beats its rivals on interior space with positively limo legroom in the back seat and a cavernous trunk accessed through a very useful hatch, yes, it’s a hatchback!

Under the hood is a de-tuned version of the Golf R engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque @ 1,950 rpm mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a perfect combination especially since it comes with standard DCC adaptive chassis control that allows the driver to configure the vehicle’s running gear for “normal,” “comfort,” or “sport” driving. The comfort mode helps even out bumpy roads, while Sport mode helps stiffen damping to create a more direct connection between the driver and the road.

The Arteon rides on Volkswagen’s now ubiquitous MQB platform, which also underpins the Golf and now offers 4Motion, an option standard on my top spec model tester. Of course, adding all-wheel drive also reduces the EPA fuel economy estimates slightly, the front-wheel drive Arteon returns 22 miles per gallon city and 31 mpg highway, while AWD models are rated at 20 city and 27 highway mpg. I’d choose the AWD option and pay for a bit more fuel.

Having a standard 8 speed auto makes progress smoother than the 7 speed DSG offered on Euro models and we may have been able to eke out a faster time than we did for our acceleration runs. The best we could do with Sport mode selected and traction control off was 0-60 in 6 seconds, 2 tenths slower than the Passat V6 we tested earlier this year.

Once on the move the turbo 4 provides ample power especially in the mid-range and the eight-speed transmission provides smooth precise shifts, especially in Normal Drive mode. Stomp on the go pedal though and there is a somewhat annoying lag before you surge forward, lessened it seems in Normal mode versus Sport. It’s not super thrilling, it’s no Golf R, but in Sport mode will hustle through the bends and it moves down the road with satisfying poise and confidence.

That said, the transmission seems to have been programmed to provide smooth progress instead of a sportier one, especially in Sport mode. I wish they hadn’t told me it’s a de-tuned Golf R engine so as not to elevate my expectations.

The Arteon’s steering is well weighted and precise and even though the car rolls a little, it also grips with tenacity thanks to the 4Motion system and it has the chassis balance to get to the center of a tight bend even if you’re a tad ambitious with your entry speed.

There’s genuine sophistication in the way it drives, VW stating its chassis folks people developed the Arteon from the start to ride well on huge 20-inch alloy wheels, and since my tester had those, it seems they’ve done a good job of it.

Brake-based torque vectoring keeps the handling in check and body roll is well sorted in Sport mode, in the other modes the body leans a bit more but the suspension is more forgiving. I did find I spent more time in Comfort mode with no decrease in driving pleasure during the week.

Brakes provide very good stopping power although did get quite hot on a downhill run from up in the mountains back to San Diego. Overall this engine pairs well with this car and provides enough power for almost every driving situation, and the engine stop/start system is less intrusive than other systems I have used.

Inside

The Arteon doesn’t wow inside as much as its sculptured exterior does, but the materials are top notch and my tester had the leather seat option with 12-way power, heated and cooled, a black headliner and aluminum sill plates. The front chairs are comfortable and provide good side bolstering when you’re exercising your right foot and the rear seat occupants get more room than most of the competition and plenty of headroom.

The center console is dominated by a large, high-resolution touch screen that is quick to respond to inputs. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all Arteons, and although 2 USB points are offered there are none in the rear.

Standard driver aids on my top spec SEL Premium del include autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, and rear cross traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is standard on the SEL Premium and adds lane-keep assist, automatic high beams, a surround-view camera system, Parking Steering Assistant, a heated rear set and the VW Digital Cockpit.

Cargo space is impressive with 27 ft³ available and a massive 55 ft³ if you lay the rear seats flat, giving you as much or more space than most SUVs.

Verdict

The 2019 VW Arteon is a very convincing long-distance cruiser, with some mild sporting pretensions. It’s nice to see VW producing a sedan in our crossover filled world, it’s very pleasant to drive and thanks to the hatchback trunk opening, surprisingly practical. I was impressed again, this is a great sedan if you sit back and drive it for what it is.

BASE PRICE: $46,710
AS TESTED PRICE: $48,175
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE: 2.0 liter turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4
POWER: 268 hp @ 5,500 rpm
TORQUE: 258 lb-ft @ 1,950 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 6.0 sec
TOP SPEED: 127 mph
CURB WEIGHT: 3,854 lbs
CARGO VOLUME: 27.19 ft³, 54.98 ft³ with seat area
EPA COMB/ CITY/HWY: 23/20/27
OUR OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 21.0 MPG
PROS: Adaptive suspension, very spacious, hatchback versatility, fun to drive
CONS: A tad slow off the line, some turbo lag