VW's New Flagship Is Gorgeous, But It's No Audi.

Motor Trend|August 2019

VW's New Flagship Is Gorgeous, But It's No Audi.

VW's new flagship is gorgeous, but it's no Audi.

Zach Gale

The 2019 Arteon’s best design detail is that it’s not immediately identifiable as a Volkswagen. The brand has produced some very safe designs lately, so it’s satisfying to see a sexier shape slink out of the design studios.

The Arteon won’t inspire envy from Audi A5 Sportback owners, but this Volkswagen is a far more pleasing shape than the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon, or Acura TLX. As the brand’s flagship four-door sedan straddles the full-size mainstream and entry-level luxury segments, however, styling can’t assure success on its own.

Let’s be clear: This is no bargain Audi. Materials inside the $36,840–$47,705 Arteon are hit or miss, from the center console’s hard plastic to the unacceptably cheap “Is this a Jetta?” feel of the HVAC knobs. Then again, the Nappa leather feels great, there’s a three-zone climate control, and the side of the center stack is squishy where your knee will rest at red lights.

The truth is that most sub-$50,000 luxury-branded four-doors (like the A5, which starts at $45,195) will hide cheap materials in their cabins somewhere. The difference is that this mainstream-branded car has more to prove, and others (like the Avalon) have more soft-touch surfaces inside. Experiencing the Avalon’s interior, however, requires walking past its cartoonish front grille, not a compromise you make with the Arteon.

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August 2019