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Volkswagen's Arteon is a bold styling statement, and a departure from the norm

Why it matters to you

Volkswagen usually emphasizes function over form, but it's flipping the script with the Arteon.

Volkswagen is generally known for conservative styling, but once in a while the company takes a risk. That was the case with the CC, essentially a sleeker version of the Passat sedan that is about to be replaced by something possibly even more ambitious.

Debuting at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Volkswagen Arteon features even more expressive styling than the CC, and ditches its predecessor’s four-door sedan layout for a five-door hatchback shape. That makes the Arteon the perfect car for people who think a Passat is too boring, but can’t afford Audi’s new A5 Sportback.

The Arteon borrows its design from the VW Sport Coupe Concept GTE that debuted at the Geneva show in 2015. A low roofline, bulging fenders, and steeply raked rear hatch give it a more exciting look than cars with this many doors generally have. However, the front end, with its massive grille and side air intakes, looks a bit heavy, and not as streamlined as the rest of the car.

Under the skin, the Arteon is based on the same MQB platform that underpins everything from the compact VW Golf to the big Atlas seven-seat SUV. In Europe, the Arteon will be offered with no less than six engine options, including three diesels. Most will be coupled with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It’s unclear which engines will be offered in the United States, but the diesels are likely out of the question.

VW plans to position the Arteon above the Passat, so expect a higher level of equipment than that more mainstream model. Some of the highlights will include an infotainment system with 9.2-inch touchscreen and gesture control, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit digital instrument cluster, and driver assist features like adaptive cruise control and VW’s Emergency Assist. This slows the car down and steers it to the side of the road if the driver becomes incapacitated, under ideal conditions.

The Volkswagen Arteon will go on sale in Germany in mid June. VW’s latest style statement is expected to come to the U.S., but probably sometime after the start of sales in Germany. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date.