The subject of this week’s road test is nothing less significant than the flagship offering from the world’s second-largest car maker.
The Arteon Shooting Brake may not be the most expensive Volkswagen on sale – that status is now held by the £77,195 Touareg R plug-in hybrid SUV – but it is the most eye-catching, is arguably the most interesting and, in architectural terms, sits squarely in traditional flagship heartland: the four-door exec.
The Arteon was first introduced in 2017, in saloon form. At the time, it felt like more than simply a replacement for the sleek Passat CC, presenting as VW’s attempt to finally fill the considerable space vacated by its old line-leading saloon, the Phaeton, which was mothballed in 2013 after two generations and precious little interest from Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series buyers.
Of course, the Arteon was very much a spiritual Phaeton successor, rather than a literal one, being a class and a half smaller, less expensive and endowed with a motor that took the form not of a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 shared with Bentley but of a 2.0-litre in-line four. It would instead stand itself out with its striking looks and a combination of space, reasonable levels of opulence and, most of all, relative affordability for a GT-esque device.
However, in the end it came out of the oven only lukewarm, and we concluded that it was “an interesting although slightly half-hearted crack at something genuinely different and appealing”. Duly, since then, the model has struggled to make an impact.