Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

The resculpted rear bodywork increases the height of the Volkswagen Arteon by 19mm but leaves the overhang unchanged, so in length, this big VW continues to split the difference between the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series, whether or not you opt for the Shooting Brake derivative.

As for the reason VW uses the term ‘shooting brake’ rather than ‘estate’, it comes down to the rake of the tailgate window, which is markedly shallow and akin to what we’ve seen in the past on the C218-generation Mercedes CLS, with the glasshouse extending similarly deep into the D-pillar. The effect is dramatic enough, and there’s no risk the load-friendly Arteon would ever be mistaken for the Volkswagen Passat Estate, or any other regular estate model. At the back, the LED light clusters have also been redesigned, as part of a raft of updates applied to the Arteon for the 2021 model year.

VW has ‘sharpened’ the front-end design, with new daytime-running LEDs and a more shapely front bumper. The changes are subtle, though, and telling the difference between this car and the pre-facelift version isn’t easy.

Fundamentally, the MQB-based Arteon is otherwise much as before, but for two significant additions to the engine line-up that we’ll come to. The 1.5-litre petrol (available with manual gearbox only) and the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units (with a dual-clutch automatic) have been the carried over and the punchy but strained-sounding 237bhp twin-turbo diesel dropped.

The surviving engines have been lightly revised, mainly with emissions-related equipment, and now range from 148bhp to 197bhp, with their efforts delivered to the front wheels alone, except for the 197bhp 2.0 TDI, which is paired exclusively with four-wheel drive. Although it has yet to make an appearance on UK price lists, the old 276bhp 2.0 TSI is expected to reappear before too long and would also be paired with a clutch-based Haldex all-wheel drive system.

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One of the newcomers is the eHybrid powertrain tested here. This is essentially the same PHEV powertrain found in the Golf GTE, only with a combined power output of 215bhp rather than 242bhp for some strange reason (given that the Arteon is the far heavier car). A 154bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine is paired with a 113bhp electric motor annexed to the dual-clutch gearbox, with electricity supplied by a 13kWh lithium ion battery beneath the boot floor. The Shooting Brake touts an official 35 miles of electric range (versus 37 for the 1kg lighter but more streamlined fastback).

The other new derivative is more exciting. A fully fledged R model has recently joined the Arteon’s line-up, with 316bhp and the same torque-vectoring AWD system found on the latest Golf R. Images show it doesn’t want for kerbside presence, either.