Sedans & Coupes

Is the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon Really Cool Enough to Be a Brand Halo?

Through the years, Volkswagen has produced several iconic vehicles. The 1960s saw the VW Bus spark a craze. Debuting in the same era and reappearing in the ’90s, the Beetle, AKA the VW Bug, remains one of Volkswagen‘s best-known cars. Some considered the Beetle a halo car. In the 2000s, some thought of the GTI as VW’s headline-maker. And today, the German automaker deems the Volkswagen Arteon its halo.

But is the Arteon a true halo car?

What is a halo car?

In short, a halo is a really cool car. By definition, a halo car represents a brand image an automaker wants to portray. This stunning, technologically advanced model stands to attract potential buyers into the showroom to ooh and aah over.

There haven’t been many brand halos, though most automakers tout one special vehicle. For Ford, it’s the GT. For Dodge, it’s the Viper. And for Toyota, it’s the Supra.

What the Volkswagen Arteon brings to the road

RELATED: Do the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon’s Updates Signal Trouble?

The Volkswagen Arteon is in its third year stateside. In America, the hatchback’s 2.0T engine remains at 268 hp, Car and Driver reports. Front-wheel drive is standard, although all-wheel drive is available on the SEL trim.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon a Top Safety Pick. However, it fell short of the highest Top Safety Pick+ designation thanks to the SE trim’s headlights (they’re not curve-adaptive and don’t offer high-beam assist). The National Highway Traffic Administration hasn’t rated the Arteon.

According to Volkswagen, the Arteon offers several driver-assist features, such as parking assist and dynamic road sign display. There’s also a plethora of advanced safety features. They include automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.

As four-doors go, the Arteon is relatively economical. With front-wheel drive, it gets about 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, Car and Driver reports.

The Volkswagen Arteon’s changes for 2021

This year, the Arteon sees cosmetic upgrades inside and out. New lights on a prominent grille and an updated VW badge jazz up the look. The model name gets a script font on the rear.

Inside, a redesigned steering wheel is thicker. And an updated dash boasts touch-sensitive climate controls. New software powers the infotainment system, which now includes wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Car and Driver calls the spacious cabin “limo-like.” Though the Arteon’s interior isn’t on par with luxury cars, it’s fancy compared to other VWs.

Is the Arteon really a halo?

The Arteon is VW’s flagship four-door. Forbes says the vehicle “oozes restrained elegance and German-designed functionality.”

In an interview with the publication, Reinhard Fischer, Volkswagen North America’s senior vice president of strategy, said efficiently, “It’s a halo car, not a volume car.”

Similarly, a Volkswagen press release calls the 2021 Arteon “a brand halo evolved and sharpened.” It cites the front end’s new look and interior refinement as part of that evolution.

VW’s luxury car, the Phaeton, was another attempt at a halo car. It was available in the United States in the mid-2000s but didn’t click. The $100,000 price tag was too hefty, Forbes reported. The Arteon is significantly more affordable, starting at a reasonable $36,995.

While America grows accustomed to the Arteon, Forbes says, it must be sure to stand out from its sibling, the Passat, made in the States. Volkswagen has made sure of that. The Arteon is more powerful than the Passat and boasts upscale touches.