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Volkswagen eyes Arteon wagon, but not for Oz

Flying solo: When the Volkswagen Arteon arrives in Australia this October there will be just one comprehensively equipped variant and minimal options.

Australia to sidestep proposed shooting brake variant of Volkswagen Arteon flagship

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Volkswagen logo1 Jun 2017

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

A WAGON version of the upcoming Volkswagen Arteon fastback flagship has a strong chance of going into production, but the Australian VW operation has spurned speculation of an Arteon shooting brake appearing Down Under.

In an interview with British journal Autocar, Volkswagen series leader for mid- and full-size passenger vehicles Elmar Licharz spoke of the company’s intention to “turn the Arteon into a model family”.

“Right now, we have a proposal on the table for a stylish wagon version to compliment the hatchback,” he said.

“The car has not been confirmed for production yet, but it has a good chance.”

Asked whether the proposed Arteon wagon would be considered for Australia, Volkswagen Group Australia general manager of communications Paul Pottinger told GoAuto the local outfit is “looking no further than the gorgeous fastback at this time”.

While Dr Licharz spoke only of an Arteon wagon, the global trend toward SUVs presents an opportunity to produce a high-riding variant to follow up the shooting brake and potentially rival the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and BMW X4.

But Autocar suggests the Arteon range expansion depends on sales of the coupe-styled sedan taking off as hoped in VW’s European home market.

The Volkswagen Arteon will launch in Australia with a single variant this October. Pricing is yet to be confirmed but it is sure to command a premium of several thousand dollars over the top-spec $57,990 (plus on-road costs) Passat 206TSI R-Line AWD with which it shares a platform and drivetrain.

Even with a price of between $60,000 and $70,000 the Arteon will cost around half that of an entry-level Mercedes-Benz CLS, although the smaller and less sumptuous CLA model starts from $52,500 plus on-roads.

Both Mercedes coupe-sedans have spawned shooting brake wagon variants, although the as-yet unseen third-generation CLS that is expected to launch next year will reportedly do away with the load-lugging body style.

The closest Arteon rival will end up being the A5 Sportback from VW’s premium brand Audi, which recently launched in Australia from $69,900 plus on-roads.

All A5 Sportback variants, barring the $105,800 turbo-V6 powered S5, offer less performance than the 206kW/350Nm all-wheel-drive Arteon, which can accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.6 seconds.

Among the comprehensive standard equipment level confirmed last week for Australian-delivered Arteons is a suite of safety and driver assistance technology that has trickled down from Audi luxury cars to appear on a VW-branded model for the first time.

Overnight, VW head office in Wolfsburg confirmed the Arteon’s full-LED headlights will be available with a system that points the beam into a corner even before the driver has turned the steering wheel.

Rather than being controlled by the driver’s thoughts or other clairvoyant methods, this technology combines vision from the Arteon’s front-mounted camera and satellite navigation data to predict an oncoming corner and bend the LED light beam toward it, as much as two seconds before the driver needs to start turning in.

The genesis of this technology was on the 2010 Audi A8 that debuted a link between navigation data and headlight behaviours, while the Arteon’s ‘dynamic cornering light’ feature was introduced in 2015 on the ninth-generation A4, making Audi the first car-maker to entirely replace mechanical headlight beam-bending systems with software.

At the time of publication, VW Group Australia was yet to determine whether dynamic cornering light technology will be standard on locally delivered Arteons or part of a technology option package.

One of the systems confirmed for this market is Emergency Assist 2 that can automatically activate the indicators and pull over to a stop with the hazard lights flashing if the driver becomes unresponsive, following audible prompts and attempts to rouse them by jolting the brakes and steering wheel.

Another trickle-down safety feature is Proactive Occupant Protection System, which closes windows and tensions the seatbelts when the various vehicle sensors detect an impending and unavoidable impact.

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