Volkswagen’s new flagship, the 2019 Arteon, is being called the “spiritual successor” to the CC, which last appeared in 2017. Those are VW’s words.

But forget spirituality for a moment. Arteon trumps the CC in power and size, offers functional hatchback utility and is quite a looker, too. In fact, it’s a refreshing new look for Volkswagen with its wide stance and a fastback profile accented by sharp creases. And there’s the unusual clamshell hood that extends over the fenders rather than line up with them.

In the rear, Arteon is spelled out boldly across the width of the car. At the top of the hatchback, the third brake light sweeps across the glass like you see in some supercars.

If there’s one gripe with the new Arteon, it’s the lack of an available power upgrade. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four gets the job done, is adequate for most daily driving, but some undoubtedly will yearn for more.

The inline-4 engine generates 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It delivers 60 mph in a not-too-shabby 5.6 seconds and is said to have a top speed of 155 mph. Paddle shifters raise the fun quotient for those so inclined.

Still, Arteon doesn’t have the playful agility of some foes. Let’s call it competent, rather than spirited. It’s only slightly better in Sport mode, which readjusts power, steering and damper settings. To its credit, there are plenty of suspension settings — 15 of them — and it also adjusts itself based on driving style and road conditions.

VW’s brake-based torque vectoring does an admirable job of keeping Arteon steady and balanced on corners. Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system directs 90% of power to the front wheels most of the time, but sends more power to the rear if slippage is detected.

Steering is responsive, managed by an electro-mechanical system that adjusts the degree of assistance based on speed and conditions.

Fuel economy for the AWD version is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 27 highway for a combined figure of 23. Keeping track of your mileage and other data can be done on Arteon’s customizable gauge cluster, which can also be converted to a broad map stretching across a 12.3-inch screen. This puts navigation instructions right in front of the driver, rather than on the center-console infotainment screen.

Speaking of infotainment, VW’s system is graphically sharp, easy to use, and compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Seats are stylish and comfortable. Trimmed in Nappa leather, they have well bolstered setbacks, offer 12-way power adjustments and four-way power lumbar.

Getting into the second row is a challenge due to limited headroom from the sloping roofline. And there aren’t a lot of nooks and crannies for your stuff.

But there is a ton of useful space in the rear, thanks to a wide hands-free hatchback, which replaces the CC’s smallish trunk lid. This means easy access to 27 cubic feet of space behind the second row, and a healthy 55 cubes with the second row folded down.

High-tech safety includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitor, and overhead camera for parking assist — all standard. Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System turns off the fuel pump, unlocks doors and activates hazard lights in the event of a collision.

While the SEL Premium with 4Motion is essentially the top of the Arteon line, there’s an R-Line package ($1,765) that adds 20-inch wheels, unique front fascia, black rear spoiler, paddle shifters and special badging. Again, no upgrade in powertrain.

Perhaps a refresh down the road will add a choice in power. Meanwhile, think of Arteon as an admirable successor to the CC, striking a balance of sophistication, comfort and utility.

Barry Spyker was the automotive columnist for The Miami Herald and editor of its Wheels & Waves section. Readers may send him email at spy2351@yahoo.com.

Tribune Wire

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