2021 Volkswagen Arteon facelift gains R halo, Shooting Brake bodystyle

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Volkswagen’s flagship passenger car, the Arteon, has gone under the knife for 2021.

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The headline change for the core range is the addition of the Shooting Brake variant, which combines the fastback’s svelte style with the added practicality and cargo capacity of a wagon. The changes are noticable from the B-pillar back, where its longer roof blends into wide rear haunches and a sloping tailgate.

Volkswagen claims 565 litres of boot space with the second row in place, and 1632 litres with it folded down. Those capacities are just 3 and 75 litres greater respectively than the Arteon fastback – however, as they were measured up to the windowline, the Shooting Brake’s usable load space is considerably larger.

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Above: Arteon R-Line

Both the fastback and Shooting Brake benefit from a range of styling tweaks inspired by Volkswagen’s latest models. Up front there’s are revised LED headlights with a full-width daytime-running light strip, mounted above redesigned lower air intakes across the range.

Updates at the rear are minor, with changes consisting of new LED tail-light graphics, tweaked ‘ARTEON’ tailgate lettering and faux quad exhaust outlets on R-Line models.

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Inside, the facelifted Arteon loses its classical analog clock in favour of wider, redesigned air vents, now controlled via a panel of capacitive touch buttons. Volkswagen’s latest MIB3 infotainment system is now available (with 8.0 and 9.2-inch touchscreen sizes on offer) while a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster is now standard across the range.

Other interior features include a new steering wheel, an available 700-watt Harman/Kardon sound system, 30-colour ambient LED cabin lighting and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The facelifted liftback and wagon gain the German brand’s latest Travel Assist semi-autonomous driving functionality, capable of accelerating, braking and centering the Arteon in its lane at speeds up to an Autobahn-friendly 210km/h.

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The Arteon’s engine lineup has seen a moderate refresh.

European buyers will now have the option of an eco-friendly, ‘eHybrid’ plug-in model. Sharing its drivetrain with the related Passat GTE, it mates a 115kW 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with an 85kW electric motor for combined outputs of 160kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

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Above: Arteon Elegance eHYBRID

The onboard 13kWh lithium-ion battery enables up to 55 kilometres of zero-emissions motoring at speeds up to 140km/h. Both petrol and electric drive are sent to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The remainder of the core range is consist of turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines – the former type in 140kW and 206kW tunes, and the latter in 110kW and 147kW variants. Six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG transmissions are on offer depending on variant, as is 4Motion all-wheel-drive.

2021 Arteon R

We’ve saved the best for last. Joining the Arteon range as part of the mid-life facelift is a new high-performance R variant, available in both liftback and Shooting Brake bodystyles.

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Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, namely the ‘EA888’ unit used by a plethora of other Volkswagen Group models.

However, whereas the current most powerful iteration of the engine on sale – utilised in the European-market, post-WLTP Golf R hot hatch – develops 221kW and 380Nm, the Arteon R ups outputs to a healthy 235kW of power and 420Nm of torque.

Drive is sent to all wheels through a seven-speed ‘DSG’ dual-clutch gearbox and a new-generation, Haldex-based 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, featuring R Performance Torque Vectoring that allows up to 100 per cent of the power to be sent to any one axle or individual wheel ‘within milliseconds’.

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Volkswagen reports a 0-100km/h sprint time of around five seconds.

20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero tyres are available, as are large performance brakes with blue-painted calipers and 20mm-lower adaptive dampers.

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Differentiating the Arteon R from its regular counterparts in the styling department is revised front and rear bumpers (with larger front air intakes), silver R badging and mirror caps, quad exhaust tips, and a black boot lip spoiler on liftback models.


The 2021 Volkswagen Arteon is set to go on sale in Australia in early 2021, likely as a single, high-spec model powered by the 206kW 2.0-litre petrol engine.

The Arteon R and Shooting Brake have yet to be confirmed for Australia, however Volkswagen’s local arm says it is “open to other variants depending on availability”.

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