Volkswagen Arteon Review
VW has a new flagship model called the Arteon boasting svelte fastback styling and packed with innovative technology. But is the new car good enough to take on premium rivals?
- Dynamic styling with handling to match
- Refined cabin with quiet engines
- Wide choice of powertrains and two trim levels
- Quite expensive
- Stiff opposition from the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
- Limited headroom in the back due to sloping roofline
Boasting a muscular yet elegant design, the all-new five-door, five-seat VW Arteon is bristling with advanced technology. There are two trim levels called Elegance and R-Line and, at launch, there is a range of punchy powertrains to choose from. Initially, the Arteon is on sale with three turbocharged direct injection engines – a 280PS 2.0-litre petrol Evo unit and two 2.0-litre TDI diesel engines with outputs of 240PS and 150PS. These can be mated to manual or automatic transmissions.
There are plans for a further three engines to be introduced in due course.
When it comes to styling, the front-wheel-drive Arteon certainly has plenty of road presence thanks to its coupe fastback, sleek streamlining, an imposing grille that stretches the width of the car and blends into the headlight clusters, clamshell bonnet and smart alloys.
The interior is classy and very premium in its layout and design with a wealth of on-board technology at your disposal.
On the Road
VW predicts the most popular Arteon at launch will be the R-Line version powered by a 2.0-litre TDI 150PS engine mated to a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, so it was that model that we opted to put to the test and it passed with flying colours.
It could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 9.1 seconds and maxed out at 137mph, but it was the manner in which it performed that really impressed.
Admittedly, there are faster Arteon versions available – the 2.0-litre 280PS TSI model cuts the 0-62mph dash time to a rapid 5.6 seconds and has a top speed limited to 155mph. But the other factor worth mentioning on the test car was the excellent economy with combined efficiency of 62.8mpg – and that’s a figure that will make business drivers sit up and take note. That might be why VW predicts 60 per cent of sales will be diesel and 40 per cent of purchases going to the fleet market.
Whilst the test car was not quite as ferocious as its petrol siblings, it delivered a beautifully composed and rounded performance. The acceleration through the automatic gearbox was swift and smooth and there was a constant supply of power on tap. It was happy eating up the motorway miles where it seemed to glide across the road surface and was equally assured when taken to quieter country lanes where the road holding was ultra-grippy and made light work of tight, twisting bends.
The Arteon is built on VWs excellent MQB platform and utilises ultra-high strength and hot-stamped steels. It sounds very technical but the aim is to deliver optimal handling and superior ride comfort and I have to say it is mission accomplished. That’s because no matter how hard the car is driven, it delivers precise steering, excellent agility and superb comfort levels for all occupants.
The aerodynamic design also contributes to the car’s performance by generating excellent downforce levels and in turn, benefiting handling and improving grip.
And any fears that bumpy and undulating road surfaces might pose a problem are quickly quashed thanks to the highly efficient suspension system that irons out the creases.
The steering is precise with ample driver feedback and the different driving modes called Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual adjust the car’s settings and responses. There are also Comfort+ and Sport+ modes for even further tinkering.
Despite its lengthy proportions of 4.86 metres, the Arteon proved agile and easy to manoeuvre in busy town centres with the added bonus of Park Assist (£645 optional extra) to make you look like an expert as it automatically parks your car into a tight space.
The interior of the Arteon is very upmarket and packed with techno treats and creature comforts. The Nappa leather seats can be heated and there is R-Line stitching on the seatbacks. Elsewhere there are piano black decorative inserts on the central console along with lots of brushed aluminium trim, soft-touch surfaces and ambient lighting. With its sights set on premium marques such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes, VW had to develop a cabin fit for a king and it has done just that.
One particular area where the Arteon excels is the cabin insulation. Despite sitting on large 19-inch Montevideo Black wheels, on more than one occasion during my 10-day loan, I was wowed by the complete silence within the car even when driving at maximum motorway speeds. At one stage a really minor whistling sound was all I could hear and that was down to the fact that one of the air vents was not completely closed off.
Passenger refinement within the test car was boosted by the addition of an acoustic pack costing £535 which added sound insulating laminated glass in the front side windows.
In the car
The Arteon delivers excellent comfort levels with plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment. A £965 option on the test car introduced even more flexibility with 12-way seat adjustment, memory settings, a massage feature and entry/exit system that moves the seat back when leaving the car and then returns it to its position when you get in again.
But once you have discovered your perfect driving position, it’s worth exploring the cabin as there is a multitude of techno treats to be found. There is the latest Discover Navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen which works similar to a tablet or iPad with the option of upgrading to Discover Navigation Pro which introduces a 9.2-inch screen. Other features include full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, online access via VW’s Car-Net system and a 11-speaker plus subwoofer sound system that added £1,010 to the asking price.
There is a sophisticated 12.3-inch digital Active Info Display which replaces the analogue TFT screen and this can be configured accordingly to show maps, phone contacts or more traditional speedo and rev counters.
Another optional extra was the head-up display which offers information such as current driving speed on a retractable screen (£495 extra).
From a driver’s perspective, all the instrumentation, controls and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use and it’s worth mentioning too that all the systems were simple to operate without the need for an advanced course in computing.
Although VW proudly claims that the Arteon offers best-in-class legroom for back seat passengers, taller occupants might find the rear headroom a little restrictive. That is due to the sloping roof coupe design of the vehicle.
But that aside, the car is like a Tardis inside with ample room for a family of five to stretch out.
And luggage space is generous too. The boot features a powered tailgate and the capacity ranges from 563 litres to 1,557 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
In addition, there is a cooled and lockable glovebox, cup holders, a load-through provision in the rear with two additional cup holders when folded down, door bins, illuminated vanity mirrors, a central storage compartment along with hooks, nets and bins in the boot to stop items rolling around.
So, onto the nitty gritty facts and figures then. How much does the Arteon cost to buy and keep on the road? The entry level model carries a price-tag of £33,505 – that would get you the 1.5-litre petrol 150PS car in Elegance trim.
However, the test car was priced at £35,090, but came fitted with a raft of optional extras that saw the cost rise to £41,660.
With its combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg and carbon emissions of 116g/km buyers can expect a Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £160 for the first year which is reduced to £140 after that.
The insurance group rating for the test car is 22.
Despite the VW brand taking a hit regarding emissions, the company has built up a good reputation for reliability and there is no reason to believe the Arteon will prove troublesome.
The construction feels solid, the materials are all of a high quality and there is no sign of any rough edges no matter how far you delve under the seats or beneath the steering wheel.
The doors close with a reassuring thud and all the switchgear, upholstery and technology looks like it has been created with longevity in mind. And the MQB platform on which the Arteon is based, has a well proven track record too.
All Arteon models are sold with a three year/60,000-mile warranty.
The VW Arteon has been awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests and is packed with systems to help protect occupants and passengers alike.
Features include anti-lock brakes including brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, stability control, electronic differential lock, traction control and a trailer stabilisation function.
There is a number of airbags, a Front Assist system that detects possible collisions and warns the driver before automatically applying the brakes, a driver fatigue warning system along with an active bonnet which raises the bonnet in the event of an accident.
An option costing £525 is the Emergency Assist with emergency lane change assist which will bring the car to a stop if it detects the driver is non-responsive. Initially it delivers visual and audible warnings and a braking jolt, then it activates the hazard lights, slows the speed and steers the car to the left-hand side of the road (traffic permitting) to a standstill.