Apparently, people like sports cars again. Companies like Ferrari are reporting much higher sales than projected, and even though a $40,000 Volkswagen sedan doesn't compete with a 488, VW recognizes that there's money to be made at the moment from fast cars. And CarThrottle reports that they're itching to bring the VR6 back to life, so the attractive and slightly upscale Arteon R might be the place to do it.
The VR6 is commonly thought of as a squished V6, but this isn't entirely true. The VR6 is better thought of as an inline-four arranged to fit two more cylinders. The simplest difference is that a V6 has two cylinder heads--one for each bank of three. An inline-four only has one because all the cylinders are in a neat line.
In a VR6, the cylinders are pushed so close together that one cylinder head can cover all six; in a V6, opposing cylinders are almost directly across from one another, but the cylinders in a VR6 are arranged so that drawing a line through them would create a tight, uniform zigzag (most V6s have a V-angle of 60 or 90 degrees, while a VR6 is an exceptionally narrow 15 degrees). Basically, it provides the power and torque of a V6 in the manageable form factor of an I4. Not to mention it makes a great noise.
In the Arteon R, this 3.0L VR6 would be turbocharged and tuned to deliver over 400 horsepower, which is more than enough to have a good time. Of course, since it is Volkswagen we're talking about, it won't be an all-out RWD hooligan like the Kia Stinger. Instead, it'll carry VW's tried-and-true Haldex AWD system since the Arteon is already FWD-based and converting it would be nigh on impossible. Of course, if that AWD system can push most of the power to the rear, there shouldn't be a problem, but VW is notoriously stingy about how much shove goes to the back.
So far, they only have one prototype with this powertrain, but according to VW spokesman Martin Hube, "you can beat all the Porsche Panameras out of your way" on the Autobahn, and that he's "totally convinced that this combination is extremely nice. We’ve combined it with the last version of the Haldex [AWD system], where you can provoke a bit of oversteer."
Just the fact that he used the word "oversteer," even only a bit, is highly encouraging to me. So now we might finally have a reason to give the Arteon a second look.