Over in the US of A, Volkswagen’s North American arm has revealed the production version of their previously teased Atlas Cross Sport concept, bearing the same name. Based on the beefy Atlas SUV, this new body style ditches some practicality for a sleeker, sportier profile.
Though it does carry many of the same attributes seen in other SUVs that have been given the ‘coupe’ treatment, the Atlas’ high shoulder line doesn’t really allow the Cross Sport’s roofline to dip much behind the C-pillar. Still, the alteration does mean the loss of third row seating.
Your praise or criticisms on the new Atlas Cross Sport might largely depend how one perceives the existing Atlas as both are still quite similar with only a small sacrifice in overall practicality and dimensions. In SEL trim, seen here, the SUV’s bright chrome fixtures and more sculpted fascia are let down by a somewhat dull rear end and thoroughly fake bumper-integrated exhaust exits.
Meanwhile, its exposed undercarriage and tow bar aren’t exactly flattering, even unsightly. The R-Line trim (notice the new ‘R’ and ‘VW’ brand logos) does add some piano black accents and 21-inch alloys, and from other angles this does indeed aid the Cross Sport’s aesthetics.
Compared to the standard wagon-bodied Atlas, the Cross Sport is 71mm shorter and 58mm lower overall while retaining its 1,989mm width and 2,979mm wheelbase. Lacking those rear-most seats, the second row bench is pushed back slightly for even more passenger legroom. Fold them down and an expansive 2,203 litres of cargo space is liberated over the usual 1,141 litres when upright.
Since we’re on the topic of its cabin, the Cross Sport seen here is the highest-spec to be offered at launch and, because they lack a Touareg in their line-up, therefore receives all the toys Volkswagen can throw at it as their ostensible SUV flagship.
The dash itself is pretty much identical to the standard Atlas and, in accordance with the prevailing regional sensibilities, is rather bulky and positioned quite high. It’s peppered with leather gloss black accents, of which there is much more of on the door trim and seats, but also frames the large central touchscreen infotainment display and Active Info Display digital instrument cluster.
There’s also premium features such as a Qi wireless smartphone charging pad, an updated steering heated wheel, heated and ventilated seats, in-built 4G connectivity, and a 12-speaker sound system by Fender (of Telecaster and Stratocaster fame). All the safety tech is present and accounted for too, including AEB, Blind Spot Monitoring (necessary, probably), Lane Keep Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Powering the Cross Sport are the same two engines that are found in the traditional Atlas, starting with a 2.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol four-pot with 175kW or a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre VR6 with 206kW. Both are mated to an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission which sends drive to either the front wheels or all of them via 4Motion.
Despite sharing the widely-used modular MQB platform, VW remains firm in their decision to keep the Atlas as a left-hand drive exclusive model, also available under the Teramont nameplate in markets such as the Middle East, China, and Russia. No Atlas fun foreseen for Australia, then.