Take the Volkswagen Passat. Add a dash of glamour, a pinch of practicality and a teaspoon of kit. Voilà, you have the Volkswagen Arteon: a five-door fastback offering a choice of six impressive VW engines.
The turbocharged petrols are a smooth 148bhp 1.5-litre, a sweet-spot 187bhp 2.0-litre and a hold-onto-your-hats-boys 276bhp 2.0-litre. And then there’s a similar trio of diesels, offering 148bhp, 187bhp and 237bhp. Unless you really need the extra frugality of an oil-burner, the Arteon is best served in petrol form – specifically with the 187bhp engine, which is smooth, punchy and quiet.
The equipment choice is simpler: pick between SE, Elegance and R-Line. SE is no bargain-basement special, coming with LED headlights, parking sensors and tri-zone climate control. Elegance adds leather seats (heated in the front) and digital dials, while R-Line gets you sportier-looking bumpers, larger alloys and a host of detail upgrades to the interior.
We’d look for a 187bhp 2.0 TSI Elegance, because that will provide all the equipment you’re likely to want. However, that combination appears difficult to find on the used market; the flashier R-Line models are more common.
Whichever model you find, you’ll be buying a fast, relaxing executive express. Those seeking real five-door thrills should look to the rear-wheel drive BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé, but the Arteon is more involving than its saloon sibling, remaining composed when you hustle it, finding plentiful grip and responding accurately and reassuringly to your inputs.
The optional adaptive suspension (DCC) blesses the Arteon with a ride that’s especially good at high speeds, although it’s not perfect in town, as the occasional thump from a ridge is sent into the interior. This is a trait that’s exacerbated by the standard suspension set-up, especially when the car is also fitted with larger wheels. Finding DCC on the used market isn’t easy, either.