The Arteon’s high-output four-cylinder diesel delivers a superior turn of speed to what you’ll find in the typical mid-sized executive option and in that respect – against the clock, at least – it’s fulfilling one basic requirement of a engine worth paying a premium for.
But it doesn’t give the car the effortless thrust or refinement and appealingly toned smoothness that a V6 diesel might.
Our test car needed 6.5sec to hit 60mph from rest and 6.2sec to get from 30mph to 70mph through the gears.
The 187bhp Audi A4 2.0 TDI we tested in 2015 needed almost two seconds more for 0-60mph and more than a second longer for 30-70mph.
Factor in the 255bhp BMW 330d we tested in 2012, though, and you’ll see how far adrift of a truly sporting, similarly priced diesel performance level the Arteon is.
The BMW is another second quicker still to 60mph and more than a second quicker from 30mph to 70mph; and the BMW was a 3 Series Touring with only one driven axle for traction.
Still, the Arteon’s acceleration benchmarks are closer to the 330d’s than the A4’s and, for a car priced and proportioned as it is, that may be considered enough by many.
It certainly would be if that strength of performance was accompanied with matching mechanical refinement for a six-cylinder diesel. Instead, the Arteon BITDI sounds like so many high-output four-pot diesels in this part of the market sound: a bit flat and plain and becoming a touch noisy and coarse under load and at high crank speeds.
At a typical cruise, when the dual-clutch gearbox keeps the engine spinning relatively slowly, the car is far from unrefined – and when you need to pick up speed on part-throttle, the transmission shifts smartly, fairly smoothly and judiciously when left in ‘D’ and the engine’s torque feels ample. But go looking for briskness and driver involvement and this engine just falls a bit short – more on qualitative than quantitative grounds.
Despite those pillarless doors, the cabin is adequately well sealed from wind noise, although it doesn’t go beyond the standard of a typical family saloon here.
On touring economy, the Arteon scored well, recording 55.6mpg on a 70mph motorway trip. Our test results suggest that’s around 10 percent better than from a six-cylinder diesel of a similar power output.