The Arteon handles with a tidy, wieldy, uncomplicated sort of poise that disguises its size and weight up to a point, but we must recognise that this car is larger, heavier and more practical than most of the style-centred executive options with which it’ll be compared.
Drive the VW keenly and it emerges with plenty of dynamic credibility, but it begins to feel its size eventually.
At road-appropriate pace, the car strikes you as a slightly flatter, keener and more vigorous take on a familiar theme: a Passat with about 10 percent more grip, agility, composure and driver involvement.
Ultimately, the Arteon is still a considerably less engaging or sporting prospect than a really great-handling rear-driven executive saloon, but that comparison is a little unfair to it since the VW is trying to be part entertainer, part tourer. And in many of the ways that it seeks to isolate, calm and reassure, it succeeds quite well.
Many, that is, but not all. The more expensive versions of the car come with Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers as standard, and if you have an R-line car, those dampers come with a 20mm drop in ride height. They make a decent fist of broadening out the car’s overall breadth of ability by reacting to what’s going on under each wheel, as an adaptive damper should.
Predictably enough, though, the Arteon’s 19in wheels and low-profile tyres set the lowered suspension a very tough task to deliver the kind of ride suppleness and bump absorption you’d want in a car like this – and they fail as often as they narrowly succeed.
The ride thumps and thuds abruptly at times, and although it feels fluent enough over a reasonably well-surfaced road, it can also conduct a decibel or two of excessive road noise into the cabin on the motorway.
There’s well-judged weight to the steering, though, and as you begin to explore how briskly the Arteon can be whisked along a sweeping road, there seems a moderately impressive kind of precision and tenacity to its handling that you’d put beyond the ability of an average family four-door.
Security and precision characterised the way that the four-wheel-drive Arteon BITDI took to a wet hill route on the day of our test. In treacherous conditions, the car blended outright grip and assured stability well, handling with strong traction but also with the clear progressiveness needed to drive up its limits.