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