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2021 Volkswagen Arteon piles on both style and substance

New tricks abound in VW's sleek-roofed hatchback.

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You can't see it in the daytime, but there's a new LED light strip that spans the gap between the headlights.

Volkswagen

Earlier this year, Volkswagen announced that its stylish Arteon five-door would receive a midcycle facelift before 2021 arrived. Just a couple months later, and here we are, staring down a revised 2021 VW Arteon that takes the original formula and ramps it up, but not too much -- at least in the US.

Volkswagen on Wednesday unveiled the facelifted 2021 Arteon. It takes a keen eye to notice the visual differences outside. New bumpers provide a greater delineation between sportier R-Line variants and the rest of the lineup. The standard models get a chrome bar above the front lip, while R-Line models get more aggressive air intakes and a continuous LED strip that connects the running lights on either side. Out back, we get the new VW logo and a different font for the Arteon badge. Like most refreshes, new wheels are also on offer, in addition to a couple new paint colors.

The Arteon's interior places a greater emphasis on style than before. VW promises it's making use of better materials inside, with faux-leather surfaces and decorative stitching lining the highest bits of the dashboard. The air vents rock a cool new design, while 30-color ambient lighting adorns fittings and door panels on higher trims. The HVAC controls are all-new, as is the steering wheel, which picks up both VW's new logo and a flashy set of touch-sensitive wheel controls.

On the tech front, all Arteon trims sport the same infotainment screen, measuring 8 inches and running the latest version of VW's MIB system. It'll pair with multiple phones at once and offer wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless device charging is available for the first time, and audiophiles can opt for a 700-watt, 12-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system. Digital Cockpit, which replaces the gauge cluster with a 10.25-inch configurable screen, is also standard.

In order to boost the Arteon's value a bit, VW added more standard equipment for 2021. The base SE now sports Digital Cockpit, MIB3 and keyless entry. The sportier SEL R-Line trim gets wireless device charging, ambient interior lighting, traffic-sign recognition and lane-keeping assist, while the SEL Premium R-Line adds 20-inch wheels and the aforementioned speaker upgrade. VW lumps a bunch of safety systems together to create what it calls Travel Assist, which combines adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking to hold the car in its lane between 0 and 130 mph.

In the US, the sole powertrain on offer is a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 that produces 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque that mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on the SE, but AWD is available on the SEL R-Line and standard on the SEL Premium. Europe, on the other hand, gets a 215-hp plug-in hybrid, a 315-hp Arteon R and the Arteon Shooting Brake station wagon. That's what happens when your market abandons ship for SUVs, folks.

The next iteration of VW's halo car should be at dealers by the end of this year, and pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date.