The idea was simple – “build a modern Volkswagen pickup truck” – but the execution was anything but. The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak concept vehicle unveiled at the New York International Auto Show reflects months of work by dozens of VW designers and engineers to build something that has not existed before; a real mid-size pickup, designed for American tastes, from the highly flexible platform architectures of the Volkswagen Group. The result was the hit of the show, precisely because it mixed style with utility in a way that many real-life pickups struggle to blend. Concept vehicle shown in all photos. Not available for sale. Specifications may change. “Pickups are distinctly American,” said Klaus Bischoff, the head of VW Design. “If you go into this territory, you need to come up with something cool, and something that works. You can’t do something unserious. “This” he said, pointing to the Tanoak, “is engineered to the bone.” of Outside of using the MQB platform, those “bones” that lie underneath VW models from the Golf to the Atlas, Bischoff says the instructions for his design team were less specific than emotional: “Do an authentic pickup truck that’s bold, muscular and masculine, with a strong identity.” The team started with the three-row Atlas SUV but grew the chassis from there, until it was 214.1 inches long, with a wheelbase of 128.3 inches — 11 longer. It rides 9.8 inches off the ground, with a version of Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive and the 3.6-liter V6 making 276 hp. All of these figures are on par with production midsize pickups – vehicles Bischoff says his team benchmarked before setting out on a new VW pickup. “We’ve gone for versatility, for functionality,” he said. “We always think from the customer side: What does the customer expect from Volkswagen? What should be different? When you buy a Volkswagen you go for something that is engineered, well thought out.” One example of well-thought-out details is the extendable roof rail. While pickups are great for hauling loads, they can struggle with longer objects. The Tanoak’s rail sits flush with the cabin when not in use, but slides out to help carry longer items on the roof. But the Tanoak also has an on-target aggressive look, from the tow hook and winch embedded in the front bumper to the rear tailgate embossed with “Atlas” (much like VW’s last Rabbit-based pickup carried the Volkswagen name on its tailgate.) The interior sports a thoroughly advanced digital display, and an interior ring of color-changing LEDs. Even the headlights are dramatic – a pair of LED strips built into the grille that animate across the front. In automotive design, it’s called a light signature, and while the Tanoak was built only as a concept, Bischoff says its light signature might be one touch that has a future. “The light signature gives identity to a product, and its recognizable, it works in the dark,” he said. “That is something we will [be] working on further and we want to make it happen.”
The camera flashes popped and the crowd “oohed” and “aahed” when Volkswagen unveiled the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon in February at the Chicago Auto Show. Two fastback sedans, in metallic red and yellow, rotated on the stage, and although the iconic VW logo adorned both trunks and hoods, the cars were unlike any Volkswagen vehicles attendees had ever seen. That was by design. With the Arteon, Volkswagen set out to establish a new design direction for the future, providing a glimpse of the next generation of Volkswagen vehicles. Here’s your crash course on the new Volkswagen flagship sedan. The Arteon name is taken from the Latin word for art (artem) and alludes to the emphasis VW placed on its design. The VW team set out to “open a new chapter” in the evolution of four-door coupes with features such as chrome strips on the frameless side windows and a wraparound grille. The nearly 112-inch wheelbase helps provide drivers and passengers with far more space than most fastback-style vehicles. While most fastback cars feel cramped in the backseat (sometimes forcing taller passengers to ride with their heads brushing the roof), the Arteon has space for rear-seat passengers to lean back, cross their legs, and relax. Three-and-a-half years passed between initial discussions about the Arteon and final production. It is scheduled to arrive in America this fall. In creating the low, coupe-like silhouette of the Arteon, the Volkswagen design team drew inspiration from nature. In particular, designers looked to imitate the streamlined and athletic profile of predators, including sharks. Volkswagen introduced a unique lighting architecture with the Arteon: The grille and headlights weave together into a seamless unit, a feature that wowed the engineering team when designers first presented it. The 19.9-cubic-foot trunk provides cargo space that exceeds that of most sedans, making the Arteon practical in a way that many similar types of vehicles are not. For example, folding down the rear seat provides a total of 55 cubic feet of cargo space. The standard DCC adaptive chassis control feature of the Arteon allows drivers to configure the vehicle’s running gear for “normal,” “comfort,” or “sport” driving. The comfort mode helps even out bumpy rides, while the sport mode helps stiffen damping to create a more direct connection between the driver and the road. The Arteon offers a host of Driver Assistance features, including standard Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, standard Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking. Available features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Light Assist, Park Assist, and Park Distance Control.1 Ready for the all-new four-door coupe? Now you can make it your own with the R-Line® package. It’s new from VW and gives you a sportier interior and some enviable, dynamic exterior treatments. It will be available at the vehicle launch this fall. Sign up here for the latest updates on the all-new 2019 Arteon.
February temperatures outside dipped into the low double digits, but inside McCormick Place — just blocks from Lake Michigan — it wasn’t winter’s winds that garnered attention, it was the all-new, hands-on Volkswagen exhibit. Kids and grown-ups alike played in front of an interactive display board, which broadcasted their movements back to them in black and white and showered them with a cascade of tick-tick-ticks — the sound of thousands of tiny magnetic pixels flipping. Other attendees “zoomed” around a virtual racetrack, seated behind the wheel of a GTI racing simulator. And some spent time snapping photos and popping in and out of each member of the VW family of vehicles, including the all-new Arteon. For attendees, taking a peek at the VW exhibit is a seamless experience. It’s like visiting a showroom, with a few more bells and whistles (and some fun stuff for the kids). But developing the brand-new exhibit — which stays up for just over a week and travels to several auto shows — was something that required a lot more time and effort. The new VW exhibit appeared at the New York International Auto Show in March and will appear again at the LA Auto Show, November 30–December 9, at the LA Convention Center. Curious about what goes into that VW flip disc wall, the Golf GTI Track Challenge, and more? We got the inside scoop. Click and drag your curser to explore the VW exhibit in a full 360-degree view. 360-degree video is not supported in all browsers.
When Jarett Andretti was in high school, his dad, former pro racer John Andretti, bought a go-kart. Jarett decided to give it a spin, and he hasn’t stopped racing since. This year, the sprint car champ is getting behind the wheel of the VW entry into the Touring Class Racing series: the Golf GTI TCR. “I’m really looking forward to it,” says Andretti, who made his debut at the Pirelli World Challenge in Austin, Texas, in March. “It’ll be totally different than anything I’ve ever done.” Many people are familiar with one or two types of car racing — the Formula series, for example. Touring Class Racing is a lesser-known but no-less-exciting category: It puts drivers behind the wheels of street cars with suspension, body, engine, and other modifications that have made them race-track competitive. There’s a key attraction to the TCR models, too: Because they are built off existing street car models — in this case the VW MQB platform of the Golf GTI — they tend to be a more affordable car for driving teams. The Golf GTI TCR does resemble a Golf GTI that you might see at your VW dealership. In fact, it uses about 65 percent of the same parts as a standard production-model Golf GTI — but it also differs in key ways. For starters, the Golf GTI TCR meets that racing-class standards (known as homologation). Those regulations include everything from doors (4 or 5) to minimum weight (1250 kg), maximum horsepower (350), and wheels (maximum of 10″x18″). “I noticed right away that this looks like it does on the street,” says Andretti. “When fans see this thing perform, they’ll think, ‘That’s the car I want.’” Once racing teams purchase a Golf GTI TCR, they can make their own modifications — and do so more easily than other race car series. “TCR is an optimal series to get started with. You can easily make changes to the car and feel them instantaneously,” says Andretti. “The cool thing about the TCR class is that you can race them in any TCR race worldwide,” he says — which means the winner must rely on what Andretti calls “the heart and lifeblood of racing” — skill. In his career, Andretti has raced in a variety of series and styles, including sprint cars that race around a dirt track. But he’s excited to enter this new-to-him field — and to do it in the Golf GTI TCR. He’s getting to know the Golf GTI TCR, from the front wheel drive to the hand brake to the turbo engine. “This might sound surprising, but it’s really comfortable,” says Andretti. “And when the turbo kicks in, you can definitely feel the take-off.” The Race to Spread Awareness About Cancer Prevention Jarett’s father, John Andretti, never missed his son’s races until a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. It diverted the elder Andretti’s energy toward treatment and a new passion: raising awareness about regular colonoscopy screenings, which can help with early detection and thus improved recovery odds. “My dad had a lot of racetrack wives tell him that their husbands wouldn’t go to the doctor until they heard about his diagnosis,” says Andretti. After chemotherapy, the elder Andretti’s current scans are clear, but his determination to spread the word about early detection remains. “You never know how many people you’ve saved by doing this,” says Jarett. of
Subtle sensory cues belie a complex interaction of systems in Lane Assist1 and Blind Spot Monitor1 to help you help your car stay in control. When you lose focus for just a split second when driving, it can lead to an unintentional lane drift. Helping keep you in your lane with your focus on the road is one of the reasons VW designers and engineers created the Driver Assistance1 technologies like available Lane Assist1 and Blind Spot Monitor1. But here’s what most people don’t realize: That tech is actually a complex human-machine interface. Its ultimate goal is to help you maintain control by giving you prompts as it coalesces feedback from the road around you. Here’s how the two work. What It’s Doing Lane Assist1 and Blind Spot Monitor1 use visual and radar feedback to create a “virtual lane” to sense and respond to potential dangers or miscues in the driving experience. The Tech The two Driver Assistance1 features rely on different utilities. Lane Assist1 uses a highly developed, advanced camera. It’s forward-facing and located between the windshield and the rear-view mirror. That keeps the camera out of the driver’s line of sight. The camera records and digitizes the road in front of the vehicle. The camera is greyscale; it distinguishes 4,096 tones, compared to the maximum of 120 distinguished by your eyes. Blind Spot Monitor1, on the other hand, depends on radar sensors located in the rear corners of the vehicle. The Drive As you drive, when the Lane Assist1 feature is turned on, its camera scans the lane markings ahead of you to “read” the road. Doing that helps it create an internal picture of the lane. The system adjusts its image processing to keep pace with the speed at which you’re driving — up to 25 images per second. The Blind Spot Monitor1 was developed to help “see” in that visual space that is often referred to as the driver’s blind spot. When this feature is turned on, its radar senses when another vehicle might be in your path. The Human-Machine Interface If Lane Assist1 senses that you’re drifting into another lane without using your turn signal, it will gently countersteer you—a sensory feeling likened to a slight nudge — back into position in your lane. If you try to move into a lane and there’s a car there, Blind Spot Monitor1 will activate LED lights in your side mirror, making them flash. In addition, if you move over despite the flashing lights, the vehicle will gently countersteer you back into your lane. If you continue to make the lane change, your steering wheel will vibrate. Even still — you’re the driver. And Lane Assist1 and Blind Spot Monitor1 acknowledge that in a seamless way. You can ignore that nudge and move the steering wheel in the desired direction. If you turn your wheel more sharply than what VW senses as drifting, it will conclude that you consciously wish to depart from the lane without a turn signal — because you are, ultimately, in control. If you activate the turn signal, Lane Assist1 will be deactivated so that you can switch lanes or make a turn without the system kicking in — because you are, ultimately, in control. Working behind the scenes, Lane Assist1 and Blind Spot Monitor1 never reveal their complex integration with your driving — by design. They help you keep an eye on the road, cueing you only according to their functions. That way, you can focus on your drive, not on the technology.
Once upon a time, Volkswagen assembled and sold pickups in America. Branded simply as the “VW Pickup,” known elsewhere around the world as the Volkswagen Caddy, the Rabbit derivative assembled in Pennsylvania was the brainchild of American executives in an era where front-wheel-drive trucks were popular due to high gas prices. After selling 77,513 models between 1979 and 1985, VW left the U.S. pickup market to others. Today, we ask: What might happen if Volkswagen brought a pickup back to the United States? This is the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak concept, a hypothetical answer to that question. Built from the same MQB platform architecture that’s used on new vehicles from the Atlas to the 2019 Jetta, the Atlas Tanoak makes a dramatic statement of VW’s design skills and engineering flexibility – along with some fresh ideas of what a real pickup could be. The Volkswagen Atlas, concept Atlas Tanoak and concept Atlas Cross Sport. To be clear: There are no plans to make a production version of this show car. But, as Hinrich Woebcken, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America says, the Atlas Tanoak “shows that we are thinking about what may also be possible, some day in the future, in this market.” Designed as a dual-cab, short-bed truck, the Atlas Tanoak would check in as a mid-size pickup. It’s not just a chopped and stretched Atlas either, but a custom take on the MQB platform. Compared to the 2018 Atlas, at 128.3 inches, its wheelbase is 11 inches longer, with an overall length at 214.1 inches that’s 15.8 inches longer. To improve off-roading, the Atlas Tanoak sits nearly 2 inches higher, with 9.8 inches of ground clearance, riding on 20-inch wheels. While the Atlas Tanoak is designed as a unibody lifestyle pickup, it also sports a few trucking innovations, like an integrated winch and hook in its front bumper and a slide-out rail in the rear roof for ease of hauling long items like a canoe. That rail also holds a strip of LEDs to illuminate the cargo bed, which is large enough to hold items like an ATV or dirt bike with the tailgate down. of Concept vehicle shown throughout. Not available for sale. Specifications may change. Like many recent VW electric concepts, the Atlas Tanoak makes some inventive use of LEDs. There are DRL bars integrated into the grille and red LEDs in the tailgate; both animate upon starting up the truck. Powered by a 276-hp 3.6-liter VR6 and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, the Tanoak’s interior offers spacious seating for five, with ambient lights that change colors depending on the drive mode. Although it’s been out of the pickup market in the United States for more than three decades, Volkswagen has ample experience building and selling pickups around the world, from the Doka to the Amarok. The Atlas Tanoak will remain a show car, but depending on public reaction, VW could consider a fresh look at the American pickup.