Volkswagen’s fightback in the US following the Dieselgate scandal has begun with the unveiling of the all-new Atlas. The large SUV, which won’t be coming to Europe, arrives after a lengthy development period and has its sights set on the US. It gets a US-friendly name and a muscular look inspired by the design of the Crossblue concept that was first shown three years ago. The Atlas will go into production in Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee next year. The Atlas is based on familiar Volkswagen Group MOB architecture but is significantly larger than its group siblings. At 4922mm in length, the Atlas is 225mm longer than the Skoda Kodiaq and even 121mm longer than Volkswagen’s current largest SUV, the Touareg.
It’s also 1979mm wide and 1767mm tall, making it 38mm wider and 35mm taller than the Touareg. Not only is it larger than any VW passenger car on sale in Europe, but it’s also VW’s largest US model. The Atlas has squared-off daytime running lights and a thick grille at the front, with masculine wheel arches and a pair of sharp-looking tail-lights. The car’s look is distinctive and quite different from the rest of VW’s range, emphasising the effort the company is making to appeal to the US market. The Atlas comes with the choice of two engines at launch: a turbocharged 2.0-litre 238bhp and a 3.6-litre VR6 with 280bhp.
Both petrol units send drive exclusively through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-litre is two-wheel drive only but the VR6 can be specified with 4Motion all-wheel drive, which offers several drive modes to improve traction and performance on varying surface conditions. The cabin features dials and switchgear shared with the rest of VW’s range, but the Atlas sets itself apart from other VW SUVs with its cabin capacity.
According to VW, the Atlas can house seven adults in its three rows of seating, plus their luggage in its boot. VW has paid special attention to making access easy and has developed a unique seat-folding mechanism for the second row to maximise space in the back. The US is the only confirmed market for the Atlas at this stage, but China is understood to be another potential area of interest.
- VOLKSWAGEN HAS been given approval for its $14.7 billion (around £12bn) settlement with owners of cars in the US affected by the emissions scandal. The settlement figure is the largest in US history and will be used to compensate 475,000 drivers. Owners can choose between getting the software fix or selling their car back to VW. They will also get additional compensation payments of between $5100 and $10,000, regardless of which choice they make. VW insists compensation will not be offered to European customers because the fix is less extensive than in the US.