Volkswagen will breathe new life into the Arteon by giving the fastback a nip-and-tuck, stuffing more technology in it, and expanding the range with a sightly shooting brake variant. Design sketches released by the German brand to whet the public's appetite confirm there's a high-performance R-badged model on the way as well.
Executives have occasionally alluded to a more spacious Arteon, and we saw pre-production prototypes playing in the snow earlier in 2020, but the sketch is our first official look at it. Volkswagen's new R logo clearly appears to announce there's something spicier than usual under the hood. That's why the shooting brake wears a bigger grille and larger air intakes than the standard Arteon. Moving beyond the front end, its roofline peaks above the driver and gently slopes into a large hatch. It's overall less utilitarian than the Passat wagon sold in Europe.
The sketch showing the Arteon fastback previews what the standard, non-R-tuned model will look like. It wears a grille with fewer slats and a light bar (a styling cue that brings it in line with the latest Golf), new-look LED headlights, and a more sculpted lower bumper. The tweaks add more flair to Volkswagen's design icon.
Inside, the Arteon will benefit from a completely redesigned cockpit and a new infotainment system. We haven't seen images of the interior yet, however. Volkswagen also announced the model will gain a technology named Travel Assist which handles steering, acceleration, and braking at speeds of up to 130 mph. These are partially automated features that will not turn the Arteon into a fully autonomous car. The suite remains a Level 2 system, and motorists will need to pay attention to the road ahead at all times, even if the car steers itself around a bend.
It's too early to tell if the standard Arteon will receive mechanical modifications as part of its mid-cycle update. As of writing, the American-spec fastback is only offered with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged to deliver 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It spins the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, though Volkswagen's winter-beating 4Motion all-wheel drive system is offered at an extra cost across the range.
The aforementioned R will need to pack a more powerful punch to live up to its name. Volkswagen could use an evolution of the Golf R's 2.0-liter, whose output last hovered in the vicinity of 300 horsepower, but we're not ruling out the possibility that it will instead drop a 3.0-liter VR6 between the swoopy fenders. It fits; we've seen prototypes packing over 400 horsepower. Regardless, the R will be offered as both a fastback and a wagon.
In Europe, the Arteon will receive a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of powering it on electricity alone for relatively short distances. Autoblog learned there are no plans to bring this version to America.
Volkswagen will introduce the 2021 Arteon during a live-streamed press conference scheduled for June 24. Sales will start shortly after the model's unveiling, and it should reach showrooms before the end of 2020. It's one of 34 new or updated models the company plans to launch globally this year. Don't get too excited about the shooting brake if you live in the United States, because Volkswagen told Autoblog it won't be sold here. As for the R, we've asked the brand about the odds of seeing it on our shores, and we'll update this story if we learn more.