Future VW models will lean heavily on the Arteon’s steely facial expression, with head of design Klaus Bischoff billing the car as “the start of a new design era”.

Integrating scything headlights with the bars of a deep grille is intended to make the body appear wider and closer to the road, with the second of those characteristics aided by muscular (albeit abruptly sheered) wheel arches and a crisp crease that runs the car’s length.

The new twin-turbo diesel engine makes light work of the Arteon’s bulk, but a four-cylinder in such a strained state does not sing a pleasant song

Our test car arrived in R-line trima more luxurious Elegance spec is the only other option – which ramps up the sporting cues further and will be chosen by most buyers, according to VW.

Whether the Arteon instils within you the ‘I want it’ feeling its maker is aiming for will depend on your tastes, but for us, it seems like a missed opportunity.

The attempt to disguise a hulking five-seater as a sporting car fails to stir the soul, or even break away from the formulaic, conservative approach typical of the brand.

There are some nice touches – the large clamshell bonnet, the scalloped flanks – but they are not enough to lend the car the distinct personality it needs.

The Arteon sits on the same flexible MQB platform used by VW models that range from the current Golf to the US-built (and appropriately sizeable) Atlas SUV.

It has allowed the new model to be 60mm longer, 16mm wider and 10mm taller than the Passat CC and comfortably longer than both BMW’s 4 Series Gran Coupé and the new Audi A5 Sportback.

For now, four engines are available, starting with a 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel. The other diesel option is the powerplant in our test car – a twin-turbo 2.0 TDI that, with 237bhp, is VW’s most powerful oil-burner.

A 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine splits the two for power, and a range-topping TSI petrol engine makes 276bhp from its two turbocharged litres.

So only four-cylinder engines are available, the Arteon having no answer to the mechanical richness of a higher cylinder count on offer at the upper end of the model ranges of its premium-brand opponents.

The more powerful models channel power exclusively through VW’s seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and 4Motion clutch-based all-wheel drive system although it is possible to buy a front-driven Arteon with a six-speed manual gearbox. Expect a 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI EVO unit and a 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI to arrive down the line.

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