OPINION | Why Volkswagen's striking Arteon never took off in SA

• The VW Arteon is a stunning luxury sedan which has been discontinued in the local market.

• It only made its local debut in 2018.

• The Arteon replaced the VW Jetta and Passat.

• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za

Go through Volkswagen's model range and you'll find a bestseller no matter where you look.

From the Polo to the Polo Vivo, and T-Cross, each rakes in healthy numbers, which means the German brand always has a full stomach according to National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) figures.

VW has introduced a number of new models in recent years, such as the aforementioned T-Cross, as well as the Golf GTI TCR and Arteon sedan. The latter made its local introduction in 2018 and was meant to replace the outgoing Passat and Jetta sedans.


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Both sedan offerings have been ever-presents locally for the better part of 15 years, and not being able to see them in further generations will be sad.

There is the one model that does not fall under the bestseller category. In its first full month since launching in May 2018, 34 new Arteon sedans found themselves new homes. That same month, the Jetta and Passat brought in a cumulative figure of 134 units.

Image: Wheels24

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Sales increased slightly since then but as the years progressed, numbers started to dwindle to as little as two units. Only the Hyundai Veloster did worse with a single sale at the time.

Besides the Arteon, VW only has a single sedan offering in the range with the Polo, but that definitely does not fall in the premium, luxury sedan category.

For whatever reason, South Africans just aren't keen on the "2-in-1" Arteon and have become more accustomed to the more family-orientated Jetta and Passat. Whereas they once had a selection to choose from, now there is only one model available in the current range.

Image: Motorpress

Is a luxury sedan needed?

Volkswagen already has its fingers in many different "pies", such as Audi, for example, with its luxury sedan flagship range. The R-line version of the Passat was arguably the last full-blown luxury sedan.

The Jetta and Passat were great vehicles, and they were affordable and easy to maintain. Replacing both models with a premium offering outside most of Joe Public's reach was not the best idea. 

There is no faulting the Arteon when it comes to design and mechanical engineering, but from a pricing point of view, buyers have a range of other brands to choose from. It debuted with a local launch price of R599 900 for the 2.0 TDI 130kW Elegance DSG, and R699 900 for the top-of-the-range 206kW R-Line 4Motion.

As far as rivals go, it went up against the likes of the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, and even the Kia Stinger, which have become go-to choices for those wanting a bit more quality behind the wheel.

The Golf, Tiguan, Touareg, Polo, Polo Vivo, and T-Cross are Volkswagen's sweet spot right now and will continue to be for a very long time. Perhaps it's a vehicle too ahead of its time, but including a luxury sedan in the 2018 line-up and up to now, just wasn't feasible for the South African buying public.