2021 VW Arteon teased with stunning Shooting Brake surprise

VW is dropping some hints about what could be its most unusual car, with the first preview of the new 2021 Arteon confirming the automaker isn't afraid to take a risk. Originally launched as a four-door fastback in 2017, the Arteon promised a more style-focused alternative to the Passat – and risked treading on the toes of far more expensive "four door coupes" from Volkswagen's VW Group siblings.

Outside, a sweeping roofline picked up on style hints from Audi's A7 and Porsche's Panamera, though the Arteon starts at under $36,000 in the US. Look a little deeper, though, and the reasons for the price disparity become more clear.

For a start, while the Arteon may be VW's Gran Turismo, its engine is familiar from more mundane vehicles. A 2.0-liter turbo, it delivers 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque: not shameful by any measure, but hardly promising melodrama. Inside, meanwhile, the dashboard didn't stray too far from that of the Passat and other VW cars.

The new 2021 VW Arteon, however, will better distinguish itself against its Volkswagen brethren, the automaker now promises. Set to be unveiled this month, on June 24, it'll not only include a new Arteon, but a second variant, the 2021 Arteon Shooting Brake.

In effect, the Arteon Shooting Brake will be a sleek wagon version of the regular car. It's a body-style that's still fairly controversial, at least in North America, where tastes have transitioned to crossovers and SUVs. Nonetheless, stylish and high-performance wagons such as the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant are making attempts to change that.

Volkswagen hasn't said whether it plans the Arteon Shooting Brake to have a US launch, though we'll presumably know more later this month. What the automaker is saying, however, is that the two cars will have tech and performance to match their style.

There'll be new engines promising better efficiency and "powerful torque," VW suggests, along with new driver assistance systems. Volkswagen Travel Assist, for example, will be an option, capable of taking over steering, acceleration, and braking at speeds of up to 130 mph. The current 2020 Arteon offers optional adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance.

In the cabin, meanwhile, we're told to expect "a completely new cockpit environment to match the exclusive charisma of these models." That'll include VW's latest MIB3 infotainment system, which supports things like wireless Apple CarPlay and an integrated cellular connection.

It's not the first time the automaker has dangled a tempting new wagon in front of us. Last year it pulled the wraps off the VW ID. SPACE VIZZION concept, an all-electric wagon build on the automaker's MEB platform for EVs. That, Volkswagen execs said at the time, was being considered for a possible production version for North America and Europe.