2021 Volkswagen Arteon SEL Premium R-Line new car reviews

Remember the Volkswagen CC? It was that pseudo-luxury sedan with that sloping roofline that was originally sold as a variant of the Passat. (Fun fact: "CC" actually stands for "Comfort Coupe.)

Well, that car has grown up, and goes by a new name, Arteon.

It's based on the same MQB platform that underpins everything from the Golf to the Audi TT, with power coming from the familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder TSI engine, this time rated for 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

Front-wheel drive is standard for the base SE and mid-tier SEL R-Line, with VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system optional on the SEL R-Line and standard on the SEL Premium R-Line.

We had a chance to drive a well-equipped Arteon SEL Premium R-Line, and you can read what it was like to drive below.

Other staff views

J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

Okay, this one snuck up on me a bit. While most of our attention regarding VW goes to its sporty GTI and variants, the Arteon absolutely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as some other world-class sporty sedans.

First, it’s gorgeous. The stretched back brings an air of luxury, but somehow the whole package fits into a reasonable footprint. The hatchback design (yeah, did I mention it’s a hatchback) cuts a beautiful, sleek silhouette that sits perfectly atop the optional 20-in. wheels of our R-Line loaner.

Like so many VWs, the Arteon sits atop an MQB platform, meaning it’s got impeccable driving manners, just like every one of VW’s models that share the modular chassis design. The Arteon is a tribute to the versatility of the MQB chassis, as it feels every bit the high-end sporty performance sedan that it’s positioned as and not at all like an economy car with some cool features.

At a shade under $50,000, the Arteon is priced more in line with a premium version of budget-friendly sedans rather than the more high-end European and Japanese hardware it competes with. The hatchback puts the Arteon in a bit of a league of its own, but if you’re looking for a yardstick a BMW 3-Series is probably the closest analog. While the rear-drive 3 is a different layout than the front-drive Arteon, the VW’s poise and composure on the road is every bit as solid as the BMW’s, as is the performance from the VW’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine.

Inside, VW is currently one of the best all-around marques for putting the driver in a position to enjoy operating a vehicle. Seat adjustments are few but meaningful, and controls are intuitive. The Arteon does use a lot of flat-panel controls, but well-integrated haptics provides a satisfying amount of feedback and make the Arteon’s controls much easier to use than most touch-sensitive pads. I’d still prefer actual buttons for some of these functions, but I also appreciate the lack of seams and gaps that can ingest dust and eventually lead to device failure. With VW’s adoption of solid haptics, I’m becoming more of a fan of the implementation of these flat-panel switches.

I drove a CC a few years ago and came away feeling that VW had a real sleeper hit on its hands that they should be louder about. The Arteon slotted right into that market space of the CC in VW’s lineup, and I feel the exact same way. It’s a gorgeous, great driver’s sedan that more people should know about.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/4/21 3:02 p.m.

Another fun fact for the class? Other markets like Europe can get a wagon version called the Arteon Shooting Brake:

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/4/21 3:09 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :


Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
3/4/21 8:12 p.m.

Where is the version with the turbo VR6 from the China Atlas. frown

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/5/21 9:45 a.m.
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) said:

Where is the version with the turbo VR6 from the China Atlas. frown

I'll e-mail a buddy at VW and pass that along. But, yeah, that would be cool.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
3/5/21 9:47 a.m.

Probably doens't meet emissions or something equally silly. 

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