Volkswagen has been a little shaky on U.S. soil over the past few years. Despite developing products specifically for North American consumers such as the Passat and new Jetta, the German automaker has struggled to sell them in any notable quantities. The diesel-gate scandal certainly hasn’t helped it any. But having dealt with most of those issues, the world’s largest automaker is gunning for the U.S. premium sedan segment with a new model – the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon. Notably, GM has been rather successful over the past few years in this segment with the Chevy Impala, Buick Regal and Buick LaCrosse.
Volkswagen is positioning the Arteon, which replaces the CC, as somewhat of a halo car. The vehicle delivers the space of a mid-size sedan in an attention-grabbing and sporty package with a sportback body, not unlike the 2018 Buick Regal. The Arteon is also filled to the gills with the latest technology and active safety features, such as a digital cockpit, which replaces the main instrument panel with a configurable display.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic pushing the front wheels. That eight-speed, interestingly, is exclusive to the Americas – as European models get an automated dual-clutch (DSG, in VW speak). The model rolls on standard 18-inch wheels; 19s are available, as is a 4-Motion all-wheel-drive along with an R-Line body kit. The model also has an extensive list of available creature features.
The entire package rides on VW’s highly-flexible MQB platform (or modular matrix), a concept that is similar to the upcoming GM VSS initiative, which looks to replace traditional platforms with more common vehicle sets. It’s only a matter of weeks before the very first Arteon units go on sale.
In all, the Arteon does seem like a rather attractive package with daring looks. And in being that, it’s also positioned in a way so as to take on three GM vehicles. But of the three, we see the Arteon as having the Regal Sportback most directly in its crosshairs, as both models are more alike than they are different: both were developed in Europe, both are manufactured in Germany, both have very similar dimensions, powertrains, and body styles.
2018 Buick Regal vs. 2019 VW Arteon - Vitals
|2018 Buick Regal Sportback||2019 Volkswagen Arteon|
|Engine:||2.0L Turbo I-4 LTG||2.0L Turbo I-4 EA888|
|Drive wheels:||FWD, available AWD (8-speed auto)||FWD, available AWD|
|Transmission:||9-speed automatic (FWD) / 8-speed automatic (AWD)||8-speed automatic|
|Dynamic suspension:||None (CDC only on Regal GS)||Adaptive Damping System (DCC) standard|
|Warranty:||5 years, 50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper||6 years, 72,000 mile bumper-to-bumper|
|Base Price (USD):||$24,990||TBA (expected around $28,000)|
Unique Market Environment
The period for the Arteon’s introduction is almost a story in itself: Volkswagen is launching a car during the ongoing car exodus, a period during which consumers are switching from sedans to crossovers in rather alarming numbers. So the environment for the model’s launch is not the most welcoming.
Sales Numbers - LaCrosse, Regal, Impala - Q2 2018 - United States
|MODEL||Q2 18 / Q2 17||Q2 18||Q2 17||YTD 18 / YTD 17||YTD 18||YTD 17|
But the migration towards crossovers hasn’t prevented the new Buick Regal from finding new homes. Sales of the midsize sedan and its ruggedized wagon counterpart have increased 26 percent to 8,215 units in the first six months of the year, though nearly dry inventory levels a year ago are partly to thank for noteworthy increase. Meanwhile, sales of the Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse are down 11 to 27,662 units and 10 percent to 11,119 units, respectively.
Interestingly, all three of the GM models are at risk of being discontinued as a result of the contracting sedan segment (in the case of the Impala and LaCrosse) and as a result of GM’s sale of Opel (in the case of the Regal). Nevertheless, it certainly looks like the Arteon represents a tangible threat to the Regal, but it remains to be seen just how much of an impact – if any – it will have.