Plop yourself into the Arteon, and you’ll find a cabin that’s positively posh compared to the usual VW fare, although some detailing remains classically VW, such as the infotainment system knobs and turn lever stalk. Seat comfort is long-term comfy, and head and leg room are impressive front and rear. In fact, given the availability of all-wheel drive, you have to wonder why someone would choose a VW compact crossover instead. It’s impressively spacious throughout, including the cargo hold.
Once up to speed, you’ll find the Arteon to be more entertaining than most automotive bread boxes. It’s a fairly quiet place, with little road or tire noise intruding into the cabin. Thanks to the suspension dampers, this premium hatch beautifully balances ride comfort and handling ability as long as the driving mode is set to sport. Put it in comfort and you’ll be treated to a lot more ride motions and rebound.
The driveline proves responsive enough, although it can hesitate before downshifting and offering up more power, a nod to fuel economy over performance. But in comparison to its chief rival, the Kia Stinger GT, it has nowhere near enough horsepower or handling chops to compete as a sports sedan. Instead, consider this a cushy grand tourer.
So even though the Arteon doesn’t seem intensely sporty, deferring in part to the comfort side of the equation, it’s an interesting alternative and a remarkably special Volkswagen. It’s a great substitute for the myriad crossovers clogging our byways, and far more beautiful to behold.
2021 VOLKSWAGEN SEL R-LINE
Base price: $43,495
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower/Torque: 268/258 pound-feet
EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 20/31 mpg
Observed fuel economy: 25 mpg
Recommended fuel: Premium
Length/Width/Height: 191.6/73.7/56.9 inches
Payload: 904 pounds
Cargo capacity: 27.2-56.2 cubic feet
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