Let’s not mention the ‘D’ word: it's questionable whether Volkswagen's reputation is recoverable in the US, and certainly there will be customers that never forgive the brand for what it’s done. But for those with an open mind, the Atlas could be just what Volkswagen needs to get it back on track post-scandal.
The Atlas is an MQB-based seven-seat SUV that’s over 5m long. You read that correctly: proof that the scalable matrix platform which also sits underneath a Golf has extreme levels of flexibility.
Volkswagen needs cars like this in the US, where the mid-large SUV market is booming, and the Atlas finally makes good on the concepts the company has shown over many recent years (namely CrossBlue, Detroit 2013). The production car loses little from the concept, certainly in terms of proportion, and the bluff, squared-off aesthetic with aggressive new lamp-and-grille integrated DRG remains.
On-board, there is genuine space for seven and rear seat and trunk space are impressive (hello again, MQB). There’s Volkswagen's new, all-capacitive screen, a nine-inch interface with both touch and gesture controls which works well, looks crisp, and along with the fully-digital TFT driver display, helps the interior to have a really high-technology feel, despite some plastic-looking wood trim.
Perhaps most impressive — as we’ve said of several recent Volkswagen products — is the pressing of the sheet metal on the exterior. It is delightfully crisp, sharp and well-resolved. Other mainstream brands would kill for the quality the VW Group’s five-process stamping is getting right now.
So despite the word we can’t mention, there's a lot of positive news from Volkswagen again, and the company deserves credit for the Atlas, which goes on sale in the New Year.