Who knew a Volkswagen could be this desirable?
Volkswagen, the venerable German automotive marque that quite literally translates into ‘People’s Car,’ has had a couple of cracks at improving and elevating its brand image. It tried it first with the Phaeton limousine, an immensely well-engineered luxury saloon car that had everything it took to redefine luxury in the segment (including a W12 engine), but ended up being hampered by the proletariat nature of the badge. Only those seeking to be the most discreet of bosses would have opted for a Phaeton, which is why it died a premature death after a mild mid-life refresh.
So limousines aren’t the answer. Perhaps an SUV, then? VW clearly doesn’t think like us, because the’ve opted instead for a swoopy four-door coupe called the Arteon, which they are adamant does not replace the (Passat) CC in the lineup but rather sits above all else. Price wise it tells the same story, with only the Amarok V6 and Touareg sitting dearer. The Arteon is not only lower than the Passat on which it’s based, it’s also wider, and longer, resulting in quite the presence on the road, and immense space for people and their things in the back.
Pair those looks to a powerful, albeit four-cylinder mill, and the Arteon’s got the legs to match the face. But with prices sitting comfortably in the $60k range, this is no longer a temptress to the traditional Passat buyer, rather a value-driven alternative to the Audi A5 Sportback, or an all-wheel drive competitor to the Kia Stinger.
Let’s see if it cuts the mustard.
“It’ll turn heads: We’ve never seen anything from VW so obviously and extravagantly styled.” — TopGear UK
The Volkswagen Arteon is, without a shadow of doubt, an absolute looker. You don’t have to subscribe to the whole four-door coupe train of thought to appreciate the Arteon (the way you’d have to an SUV-coupe), because from every angle, there’s a design detail or visual flair that’ll just reel you in.
From the clamshell bonnet that creates a line stretching all the way down the flanks of the car, to the frameless doors, the chrome-outlined windows and bold wheel-arches, the Arteon is full of aesthetic vim that you begin to wonder where VW’s been hiding these talented designers all this while (or if they injected their existing workforce with viagra). The Arteon’s design is spread out over an absolutely enormous car too: Compare it to a Passat, and you’ll notice that your tape measurer stops 21mm shy when measuring height, and extends 9.5cm for length, 3.9cm for width, and 4.6cm for wheelbase. Where the outgoing CC was a Passat with sex appeal, we’d argue that the Arteon (like VW suggests) is an entirely different animal.
Compared to cars like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Arteon is positively enormous (189mm longer, 25mm wider, and 64mm taller). Even compared to the Kia Stinger, which looks larger visually, the Arteon is still 32mm longer, 1mm wider (it counts), and 35mm higher.
In the sole R-Line guis we get in Australia, the Arteon looks positively menacing. The grille is darker, the bumpers are more angular, and the optional 20-inch turbine wheels (like the kind photographed) just look the business. A discreet lip spoiler and prominent ‘ARTEON’ scrip at the rear help to ensure that not a single person will mistake this for some pedestrian CC.
Engine & Drivetrain
“The sporty, turbocharged engine is highly refined, and delivers a respectable load of torque at a moments notice.” — Motoring
The Arteon is available with a whole raft of engines… in other countries. Here, we get a sole 206TSI inline-4 that’s been turbocharged to provide properly usable power. Identical to the Skoda Superb with the same motor, the Arteon 206TSI puts out a pretty respectable 206kW and 350Nm, with power going through a 7-speed double-clutch gearbox before being subject to the brand’s proprietary 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
As far as the mill is concerned, it’s a smooth, punchy motor that produces all of its torque in a great big lump from low down in the rev range, something that the 7-speed double-clutch automatic capitalises on immensely. When you’re going for it you’ll find that the torque doesn’t taper off until about 4000rpm which is great fun, while cruising ability is enhanced thanks to that generous spread of torque and the gearbox keeping the revs at a low and the engine working at an almost-inaudible level.
Fuel consumption in this car is claimed to be 7.5L/100km, though expect something more like 9L/100km on regular driving, or something slightly north of that if you’ve got a heavy right foot. And even if you don’t, you’ll find the Arteon goading you on to develop one.
“Well, the interior is pretty swish.” — Car Magazine, UK
Where the exterior of the Arteon aims to (more than anything else) distinguish itself from the Volkswagen Passat that we know lives beneath its skin, the cabin does a less convincing job of it. It looks and feels like it couldn’t at all be bothered about the matter. The cabin is practically a direct-lift from the more mundane Passat, and while that means impressive ergonomics and fit-and-finish, it does also mean that it doesn’t feel any more special.
The good news is that, again, fit-and-finish is excellent, and gives you the feeling that it’ll outlast you in a nuclear winter. Further, the materials employed throughout the cabin straddle the requirements of being both tough and plush. It’s pretty spacious too despite what the swooping roofline and premium-lifestyle positioning might suggest, with generous amounts of room up front and limousine-like space in the rear. Just watch for headroom if you go for the optional panoramic sunroof.
The Arteon is actually a lift back, which means that not only is the space in the boot enormous (more than 100L larger than what you’d get in an Audi A5 Sportback), but it’s very accessible, particularly when compared to some of the premium saloons the Arteon aims to tempt you away from (like the BMW 3-Series, and Jaguar XE). The tailgate is powered as standard, and even comes with a kick-to-open function which, unlike some cars, is pretty easy to trigger and reliable, which is exactly what you’d want when your hands are full.
Behind The Wheel
“Given the Arteon’s positioning, it’ll be no surprise to hear it’s not going to leave you grinning ear to ear at the limit, but you may be surprised at how well this refined, stylish four-door can get down a difficult road.” — WhichCar
While the Arteon is offered with a variety of power plants and drivetrains in other markets, the Arteon that we get enjoy the driveline from the Volkswagen Golf R. As such, you get this raspy, willing mill that just eggs you to go further and further, and explore the furthest reaches of what the 4Motion all-wheel drive system is capable of.
Good news is that you’re more likely to run out of talent long before the car will. The natural, communicative steering wheel gives you seemingly endless confidence, while the all-wheel drive system ensures that when you do choose to carry relatively ludicrous speeds though the corners, you’ll emerge on the other end facing the right way and not sitting up to your chin in excrement.
But while it’s confident and sure-footed, it isn’t exactly fun. Sure, it can go through corners like it’s on rails and the whole experience feels like it was hewn from granite, but the whole experience feels like it’s so predictable, so accessible, that it just fails to be of any real fun. Ultimately, the Arteon is designed to be a long-distance, comfortable, rapidly-fast grand tourer. Drive it as such, and you’ll be left wanting for nothing.
Safety & Technology
“You’ll be hard-pressed to find a car in this price bracket with such an impressive armoury of advanced safety equipment as the Arteon.” — CarsGuide
Volkswagen didn’t skimp on active safety kit in the Arteon, which would have been inexcusable given its price point. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is standard fare on the Arteon, and is functional from 5km/h to 250km/h. But what if you’re driving slower than 5km/h, you ask? Well, there’s something called ‘Manoeuvre Braking’ to handle that, and it’ll stop you dead in case you’re about to hit an object at slow speeds.
Did you want more? There’s also rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring. There’s an adaptive cruise control system that works together with active lane keep assist to essentially pilot you semi-autonomously in a single lane down the motorway. If your hands leave the wheel for too long and you ignore the cars’ prompts to put them back, the car will assume you’re incapacitated.
In that scenario, the car will first brake sharply a couple of times to try and jolt you back to life, while also triggering a myriad of visual and audible warnings. If that still doesn’t work, the Arteon will then check its surroundings, and make its way across the motorway lines into the emergency lane safely, and come to a halt.
Yeah, for under $70k. No wonder EuroNCAP gave the Arteon a full five-stars.
When you’re not incapacitated, there’s plenty of tech and convenience features to play with. There’s a 9.2-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash replete with Android and Apple smartphone mirroring systems, an eight-speaker audio system, and a 12.3-inch fully-digital drivers’ display as standard. There’s a 360º camera system, a heads-up display, autonomous parking, and 14-way adjustable front seats. There are also adaptive LED headlights, and a motion-triggered electric tailgate, that will glide open when you wave your foot under the rear bumper.
If you want more, you can option on a set of 19-inch alloys wheels of a different design, or you can get a package that nets you a panoramic sunroof and a higher-output, higher-fidelity audio system.
Go take a walk around the corporate carpark, and take a gander at the number of traditional 3-box saloons there are down there. If you’re lucky, perhaps you have some more adventurous colleagues that bought a Kia Stinger, or perhaps one of your superiors has an Audi A5 Sportback. Now think about the Volkswagen Arteon, which is cheaper than the latter, and bigger than the former. And arguably better looking than the two put together.
The Arteon is not only gorgeous and imposing, but it’s also incredible value. It may lose out on a more desirable 6-cylinder mill, but the four-pot under the bonnet is plenty brawny enough for most applications, and it feels stronger still thanks to how it delivers all of its torque in one palpable lump. It may not be quite as exciting to drive as a Stinger on a back road, but arguably the Arteon is a better overall package. Also, did we mention that it looks gorgeous?
We were skeptical when Volkswagen announced the Arteon would arrive in Australia in just one guise, but we think that perhaps it was a stroke of genius. Well-equipped, generously-sized and effortlessly-desirable, the Arteon 206TSI R-Line presents itself exactly how it’s supposed to, as the range-topping, aspirational model in Volkswagen’s lineup.
With brawny power, generous kit, impressive refinement, and bags of style, the Arteon really is a brilliant motor. We like it alot.
CarsGuide — 8.3/10 — “The Arteon deserves its rank as the flagship of Volkswagen cars – it’s luxurious, modern and excellent to drive, but retains Volkswagen's utilitarian feel of being hardy and practical and easy to use. A king for the people.”
Motoring — 79/100 — “For delicately carving up market niches, few companies can compare with Volkswagen and its associated brands. Exhibit A: The Volkswagen Arteon, precisely positioned between Audi’s A5 Sportback and the Skoda Superb. Sold here in just one variant, the Arteon is set apart by its predecessor by its sports-focused demeanour.”
WhichCar — 4.0/5.0 — “There’s plenty to like about the Arteon. It looks great, it’s quick, refined, economical and practical, for under $70k as tested.”
CarAdvice — 8.1/10 — “Some imperfections aside, the Arteon makes for a worthy flagship VW passenger car. While the company may be stretching things with its regular use of the word ‘evocative’ in the press kit, this is arguably more capable of turning heads than any other Volkswagen. If the Arteon is not the most inspirational drive, it definitely succeeds as a relatively aspirational pseudo-luxury car. ”
Car Magazine, UK — 4.0/5.0 — “If you like the looks and don’t care that people will worry you couldn’t afford a BMW, the Arteon is an attractive prospect. The interior is a delight, there’s loads of space for people, the boot (above) is huge and the drivetrains are basically excellent. The safety tech isn’t to be sniffed at, either, and if you want comfort you’re unlikely to be disappointed.”
TopGear UK — 7.0/10 — “Volkswagen’s answer to the Audi S5 Sportback and BMW 4-Series GranCoupe is a rakish hatch that’s big on looks and enormous inside.”
Autocar — 4.5/5.0 — “The Arteon has mostly been executed with the thoroughnesswe expect of VW, but on style, richness, rolling refinement and driver appeal, it’s short on the makings of a great mid-sized exec option. We can only judge it as an interesting, although slightly half-hearted crack, at something genuinely different and appealing.”
WhatCar? — 4.0/5.0 — “It’s a little pricey, but the Volkswagen Arteon is good to drive, stylish, and amazingly practical next to other coupés, and even some saloons in the class.”