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We don’t need a sportscar: Volkswagen

Going, going: Volkswagen farewelled its Scirocco R with a special Wolfsburg edition but there are no plans to replace it.

Arteon to take its place at the top of VW line-up, with sportscars not a priority

Volkswagen logo6 Jul 2017

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia (VGA) executives say the company does not need a standalone halo sportscar to boost its brand image and pointed to the incoming Arteon four-door fastback as a possible new luxury flagship that could compete with Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The car-maker no longer offers a sportscar in its line-up after it discontinued the slow-selling Scirocco two-door coupe late last year, sending it off with a limited-run Scirocco R Wolfsburg edition that is still trickling out of dealerships in run-out mode.

Volkswagen’s pair of drop-tops – the Eos and closely related Golf convertible – were discontinued 2013 and 2016 respectively, with no replacement in sight.

VW sells a number of performance variants of key models, predominantly based on the Golf, including the Golf GTI and R, as well as the Polo GTI.

Many rival car-makers offer a sportscar in their line-up, often as a halo model, including Ford and its Mustang, the Nissan 370Z and GT-R, Honda’s $420,000 NSX, the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota’s 86 as well as its Subaru BRZ twin.

When asked if he thought the brand needed a halo sportscar in its line-up to enhance its image, VGA managing director Michael Bartsch said it was not being considered at the moment.

“We’re all car nuts, right? We’re in this business for those sorts of products as much as anything,” he said at the Golf ‘7.5’ launch in Victoria this week. “But do we feel at the moment that it creates a lacking anywhere in terms of brand or sales performance? No.” Mr Bartsch added that there were currently other priorities for Volkswagen in Australia, specifically, building up its SUV line-up beyond the Tiguan and Touareg that are on offer now.

“And I think when you look at where the focus is at the moment, I think it’s far more important than worrying about whether we have a Mazda Miata (MX-5) equivalent or something like that.

“I would rather see, from Australia’s point of view, more depth in our SUV market than worrying about whether we have a sportscar or not.” While it is not being marketed as a sportscar, the upcoming Arteon four-door fastback sedan is set to take its place as the flagship of Volkswagen’s Australian line-up when it arrives in showrooms in October this year in one highly specified model grade.

VGA general manager of communications Paul Pottinger described the Arteon as a “halo car” and a “statement of intent” of what the car-maker was capable of and suggested it would compete with the big German players in the premium segment.

“It is an unapologetically prestige car,” he said at the Golf launch. “Arteon is going to sit at a premium of the current Passat range. That will be a premium car, except that you will find the standard fitment that would probably cost you between $90-100,000 in the equivalent BMW and Mercedes. And it absolutely begs comparison.” While Mr Pottinger was quiet on pricing for the Arteon, GoAuto understands it could be priced from the low-to-mid-$60,000 mark, making it about $5000-7000 pricier than the top-spec $57,990 Passat 206TSI R-Line sedan.

The Arteon is the successor to the CC, which was based on the previous-generation Passat, and while the new model shares its underpinnings with the eighth-generation mid-sizer, VW has put more effort into differentiating it from its more mainstream sibling this time around.

VW’s sleek fastback will be powered by 206kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine shared with the Passat, with power sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, ensuring a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.6 seconds.

As previously reported, it will be packed with standard gear including 19-inch Montevideo alloy wheels, special R-Line seats, adaptive LED headlights, frameless side windows, heated rear outer seats, an active info display, a 9.2-inch infotainment system with gesture control, app-connect, adaptive chassis control, driving profile selection, tinted rear windows and a suite of safety features.

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