Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 10, 2018
Like the Greek titan it takes its name from, the Atlas is Volkswagen’s new three-row seven-seater SUV with a lot riding on its shoulders, bearing the weight of resurrecting the trust of scandal-affected customers and taking the helm as the largest Volkswagen in the portfolio.
Let us talk about looks first, as I am sure the titan would have preferred to succumb to the sky’s weight rather than look at this ghastly yellow paint VW calls Kurkuma. Looks are subjective, sure, and I have had equally positive and negative remarks from passengers and friends. Kurkuma Yellow is like BMW's Austin Yellow paint for their M3 and M4 - an acquired taste to say the least, though it remains as the halo colour for the Atlas.
I do admire the bold and substantial exterior though with its flat and formidable edges, especially when tricked out with black paint and black glossy wheels. The massive grill offers memorable road presence and though it is not as sleek or as handsome as the Touareg, the Atlas does come off as burlier and more masculine. It appears almost robotic with the aerodynamics of a G-Wagon, which I am sure has a drag coefficient in the double digits. The R-line package that offers more aggressive body panels looks even better.
Inside is another story, a bleak and bland chapter in the book, and one that screams functionality and purpose rather than lavishness. Though on the top-tier Execline, there is a tasteful wood trim that graces the dashboard and door panels for a bit of visual spice. The heated seats are potent, and it is always a welcome sight to see a heated steering wheel and remote start feature in a German vehicle - creature comforts us Canadians cannot seem to live without anymore in the winter.
The Atlas utilizes a new infotainment system that we tried out recently in the Golf GTI as well. We thoroughly enjoyed its big screen and love the sensors that detect when your hand is approaching to auto populate with bigger prompts. All three rows of seats have excellent headroom and legroom, though the third is a little cramped for my six-foot figure, yet not enough for me to complain about on short distances.
The Atlas comes with two powertrain configurations, starting with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that delivers 235 hp and 258 through an 8-speed automatic to the front wheels only. If you want the 4MOTION all-wheel drive system, you have to opt for the larger 3.6-litre V6 which produces 276 hp and 266 lb-ft instead. Despite the larger displacement, it is not exactly big on performance. From launch the V6 Atlas is quite brisk but once rolling, mid-range torque is lacking and a shove on the throttle is met with a rather lethargic response.
Steering is artificially light and unlike the Golf, there is no steering feel, as if the wheels are in a galaxy far, far away. Luckily you can customize the steering to “Sport” to have more weight, but it is still numb and void of feedback. Body roll and body control are not impressive either with this bulky SUV. I do not particularly enjoy how the Atlas handles but then again its mission is not to be a Sunday corner carver with the agility of a Tiguan. The Atlas was meant to carry seven passengers and their cargo on its shoulders in decent comfort. And speaking of comfort, the Atlas is not exactly the hovering on clouds here. The suspension is oddly stiff, it does not settle very well over bumps or potholes, and you really do feel every undulation on the road. I expected a softer and more composed ride.
Our Atlas Execline tester was spec’ed out with all the bells and whistles and racked up an astonishing bill of $52,540 before taxes, PDI, and other destination fees. It can be an eye-opening surprise seeing as the base Atlas starts at a deceitfully low price of $35,690, but of course that means you get the inadequate 2.0-litre turbo-four exclusively mated to front-wheel drive. And if you want AWD you have to suck up for the V6 for $39,790 instead. What you really want is mid-level Comfortline with the V6 motor, and all the comforts that come with it such as the larger 8-inch infotainment screen, blind spot detection, auto emergency braking, keyless access, remote start, leatherette seating, and heated seats, all in for $43,490.
The Atlas may be short on performance and ride comfort but it just about delivers on every other front with bold new looks, a solid though slightly bleak interior, seven seater functionality, and an excellent infotainment unit.
型号 Model: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas Execline
顏色 Paint Type: Kurkuma Yellow
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $52,540
試車售價 Price as Tested: $52,540
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,979
長闊 Length/Width/Height(mm): 5,036 / 1,978 / 1,769
引擎 Engine: 3.6L V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 276 hp @ 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: ContiWinterContact