Steering, suspension and ride comfort

The VW Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake comes equipped with VW’s DCC adaptive dampers as standard, and these give the chassis a good breadth of ability.

In truth, though, there’s little reason ever to let the suspension stray from its default Comfort setting. Reaping the benefits of the increased damping force in Sport mode would require you to drive the Arteon eHybrid in a fashion that exceeds its dynamic sweet spot, because this is a car that prioritises secure roadholding and accurate, measured direction changes over the sort of agility and handling flair you’d expect from BMW or Mercedes and, to some extent, Peugeot.

It turns in easily, grips strongly and is utterly dependable, but you can’t fine-tune the cornering attitude with the throttle and it lacks the flair of its BMW and Peugeot rivals.

The VW can sustain good cross-country pace and is reasonably agile for its size, but this chassis lacks throttle adjustability and doesn’t have that ability to shrink itself around you on smaller roads. It never asks to be driven at all hard and doesn’t reward any efforts to do so.

That said, the Arteon Shooting Brake offers up more to the keen driver than the Volkswagen Passat and has more to chew on dynamically than the Skoda Octavia or Skoda Superb can muster.

You can enjoy the process of flowing the VW down an A- or B-road, secure in the knowledge that the suspension (MacPherson struts up front, multilink at the rear) will soak up the road surface without much fuss and yet isn’t vulnerable to excessive float.

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Grip levels provided by the Pirelli P Zero tyres are unlikely to be surpassed by even committed driving. The uniformity of weight in the steering is disappointing but to be expected, and the tuning – this is an electrically assisted set-up with speed-dependent gearing – is at least accurate and consistent.

It’s not hard to get the car turned in to bends, after which it never strays from your chosen line, despite the conspicuous understeer balance of the chassis. Inert? Yes, but also dependable.

With its long wheelbase and broad tracks, the Arteon exhibits good natural stability on the Hill Route at Millbrook. As with the regular Arteon, the Shooting Brake offers little in the way of excitement or involvement but does possess good accuracy in its steering. Roll is generally well contained, although it lacks the control you would find with a BMW 3 Series or 5 Series Touring riding on M Sport suspension.

In short, the Arteon will tolerate being hustled and is comfortable making swift progress, but it begins to feel uncomfortable above, say, seven-tenths effort. You sense this most in the calibration of the ESP system, which acts upon the brakes long before the Arteon is in danger of losing grip at the front axle.

It’s a highly conservative set-up that wouldn’t be so necessary were the eHybrid also to benefit from a driven rear axle. As it stands, the Arteon is easy enough to drive fast, but it is also fairly staid.

Comfort and isolation

There’s little wrong with the ‘ergoComfort’ driver’s seat in the Arteon (the front passenger seat does without the same level of adjustability), beyond the fact that it positions its occupant a touch too high. BMW and Peugeot have the better of VW in this respect, with their lower, more heavily bolstered and generally sporting offerings, but in truth, a more relaxed set-up suits the Arteon, which doubles down with considerably more cabin space than either the 330e Touring or 508 SW Hybrid.

Unlike the R-Line Arteon, the Elegance is not fitted with the 20mm shorter suspension springs and wears only 18in wheels with tyres in possession of healthy sidewalls.

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However, our test car has been ‘upgraded’ with 19in wheels and therefore isn’t representative of the Arteon at its most pliant. The car still rides with good fluidity at speed but certainly isn’t immune to bump-thump in town driving and generally doesn’t come across as being as sophisticated in its suspension movements as some rivals. It shouldn’t be the case that the red-hot 508 SW Peugeot Sport Engineered, with its 20in wheels, ultra-low profile tyres and road-hugging ride height, should deal better with the range of British road surfaces.

The VW is at least noticeably quieter than the French car on the move and is in general well suited to touring duties. At speed, it’s calm, with fine ergonomics and all that cabin space contributing to the sense of ease.