There are very good reasons why Volkswagen tends to struggle when it comes to making expressive, desirable, luxurious cars – and they’re often the same reasons that make its biggest-selling models so good.

It has always championed ‘progressive design’, by which it means the gradual, careful refinement and evolution of its cars.

Considered approach produces an executive flagship short on sparkle

With the Arteon – and the forthcoming T-Roc and Touareg – it’s trying to find a more imaginative way and a freer hand, but it’s plainly struggling a bit.

The Arteon has mostly been executed with the thoroughness we expect of VW, but on style, richness, rolling refinement and driver appeal, it’s short on the makings of a great mid-sized exec option.

For space, in-car technology and value, it’s more commendable.

History may judge this the product of a brand in transition, but if it’s the start of something significant, it could yet be deemed an important first step.

We can only judge it as an interesting although slightly half-hearted crack at something genuinely different and appealing.

As a result the Arteon just about makes our top five. However, the flagship VW finds itself with ground to make up on the Audi A5 Sportback, Alfa Romeo Guilia, Jaguar XE and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé.

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