Volkswagen Arteon Elegance07 | 05 | 2018Scotcars rating

    VW Arteon bids to shatter the executive glass ceiling as it takes on its German rivals

    ALTHOUGH VOLKSWAGEN JUSTIFIABLY lays claim to coveted sub-premium brand status, it faces the automotive equivalent of a glass ceiling when challenging BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar and arguably Volvo, in the dauntingly competitive executive or E-sector. (Related: Roadtest — VW Passat Estate SE Business 2.0TDI)

    So, enter the quaintly named Arteon flagship, a substantial five-door hatchback, (sorry fastback in VW parlance), elevated consciously above its predecessor, the CC, whose badge also formerly graced previous top drawer Passats.

    And exit the even larger, less than charismatic looking Phaeton, a technological all-wheel-drive tour de force, which included a W12-cylinder variant. It majored mainly on the Chinese market and was a great UK used car prospect due to free-fall residual values and it earned minimal sales volumes. (Related: Roadtest — VW T-Roc)

    VW’s designers have succeeded in giving the Arteon plenty of street presence, from the full width grinning grille, up and across a sculpted clam shell bonnet and along the coupe-swoopy profile with its frameless four doors; to a capacious hatchback boot that stretches to over 1500 litres with the rear seats flipped down. That’s 100 litres more than its corporate cousin, the Audi A5 Sportback offers.

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    Handsome and assertive rather than stylish and sporty, it occupies a sizeable footprint, both longer and wider than the Audi and BMW’s 4-Series Gran Coupe. People with small garages need not apply as the Arteon measures 60mm longer, 16mm wider and 10mm taller than the CC did.

    Big internally as well as externally, the cabin has abundant space and 6ft 4in-tall rear seat passengers don’t develop stoops, despite the coupe like roofline. Plus there’s ample legroom, something that VW’s well established Chinese following demands. Function prevails over flair in terms of interior trim, with a blend of digital and analogue instrumentation. This involves a multi-function 9.2-inch central Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system embodying strictly touchscreen operation.

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    It may be a bit of a sombre travelling environment, but trim and fit tolerances are of the highest standard and the £535 acoustic pack involves insulated laminated front side windows and supplementary interior noise suppression. Lower noise levels generate less stress on longer journeys.

    An old-fashioned analogue clock sits above the screen and the switchgear is fairly logical and intuitive. Our car embodied the Active Information Display, which mimics Audi’s Virtual Cockpit display, and costs £495 extra, part of a hefty £5855 list of options. That brought the on the road price for this belt and braces Arteon up to £41,860.

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    Predictive cruise control, standard at the Elegance specification level, incorporates a spooky topography monitoring system that can adjust the car’s speed for upcoming bends, roundabouts and junctions. Autonomous driving is just over the horizon. Dynamic chassis control, fitted for £820, presents Eco, Normal, Comfort or Sport shock absorber settings with the latter providing deceptively nimble and responsive handling capabilities for such a large car.

    The multi-position, electrically-adjusted driver’s seat, even in its lowest setting, leaves you sitting higher than in most rival products’ cockpits, and excellent all-round visibility contributes to the car feeling more compact than its exterior heft implies. Opt for the even more sybaritic £1045 12-way seat adjustment, which cosseted us in this Arteon,with bum warmers or coolers in the form of heated and air-conditioned front seats.

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    Oh, and a massage function is thrown in, should the urge take you.

    Arteon passes its screen test with the £765 optional 360-degree view, via the infotainment display showing front, rear and side camera angles, although you can always stick your head out of the driver’s window. Don’t bother adopting the truck driver’s approach of opening the door to make a visual check to avoid scuffing alloy wheels against driver side kerbs when parking. As with all automatic, multi-brand VW Group models, the car locks its transmission and will not move until you desist.

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    Initial Arteon sales predictions previously put the D for demonised diesel sales factor at 60% and a similar fleet registration element, but the car we sampled over several hundred varied miles was the 190bhp, 2-litre direct injection petrol version mated to a seamless seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. There is no manual version with this power unit and, as with Volvo, six-cylinder counterparts are so yesterday.

    But in our motoring clientele there is a hard core of thrusting types who like the sound and muscle power of multi-cylinder BMW, Audi and Mercedes engines.

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    The Arteon’s 62mph acceleration benchmark time is listed at 7.7 seconds with an academic terminal autobahn velocity of 149mph. More relevant and impressive was the 41mpg average we achieved, respectably close to the official, laboratory induced combined figure of 47mpg.

    This is probably down to the Arteon not requiring being hustled along while the seven-speed transmission generates low engine revs at motorway cruising speeds. That computes to a realistic long-range capability approaching 600-miles.

    A CO2 rating at 135g/km equates to a VED level of £200 with a 26.6% corporate benefit-in-kind level for the basic £36,005 version of this variant.

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    In summary VW’s Arteon is not designed to slug it out toe-to-toe with the usual officially premium German suspects in a highly tactical market area, and it may lack their perceived dynamism and presumed higher residual values.

    But it marks a significant move onwards and upwards from the compromised CC and proves that this uniquely positioned manufacturer can produce a refined, good looking, thoroughly well executed larger car. For now that glass ceiling remains intact, a barrier re-enforced by badges as much as merit.

    Related: New V6 TDI engine for latest Touareg

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    Hugh Hunston

     

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £36,005 / £41,860
    Engine / Power: 4cyl inline 1984cc, turbocharged petrol with 7-spd auto /190bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 7.7secs / Max 149mph
    How big/heavy?: L4862mm W2127mm (incl mirrors) H1450mm / 1601kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 47.1mpg combined /135g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 25E / £200
    Alternatives: BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe, Audi A5 Sportback and Jaguar XE

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