Can a hatchback/fastback do everything an estate car or SUV can? I didn’t plan on finding out, but logistical headaches meant I had do.
Pictured here is my lad, Red. Red is 15, and before the summer break he came home from school and said he fancied swimming the English channel during the holidays. Which is fine, we said, but are you sure you can swim that far? Besides, where do we get the goose fat?
Alright, he said, how about I run from one side of the country to the other? Great, we said. At Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches from Bownesson-Solway to Wallsend (obvs) in Newcastle, England is 84 miles wide. Running the length of that, to somebody like me, whose plans for my summer holiday at Red’s age included ‘playing a bit of snooker’ and ‘having a nap after a tiring game of snooker’, sounded amazing.
Red reckoned it would take five days and found a charity based near the run’s end to raise some money for.
So I arranged to be in one of our long-termers, a practical 4x4, to support him. Only then I had to leave it for a colleague at Mazda-tuner BBR GTi’s place in Brackley, because I am an idiot, and found myself in the Volkswagen Arteon instead, wondering if everything would fit.
Which it did. In no particular order, what you see here is the kit needed to find a lad out on the road and keep him fed and watered when he’s running 17 miles a day for five days: a 12V cool box, a two-ring stove and gas bottle, a 20-litre water canister, a mountain bike (my 1992 Marin Palisades Trail, classic mountain bike fans), clothing for three for five days, towels and coats and rugs, a parasol and a water-filled base for it, three camp chairs (including one very large one), a helluva lot of food and drink, more shoes/trainers than you’d think necessary, and first aid supplies. Anything else? Probably. I forget.
The Arteon’s boot volume is 563 litres with the rear seats in place, 1557 litres with ’em folded – and presumably just under half-way between the two if you fold the 40% split seat down, to leave good occupant space on the offside but enough room on the nearside to squeeze the bike through, with a front wheel removed, as I did.
There’s no 12V socket in the boot, alas, but there is one by the back seats. There are also two 12V sockets in the front but only one USB outlet, which is odd for a new car, so I picked up a 12V-to-twin-USB converter, too.
The Arteon was brilliant. Its ride is smooth, its seats flat but comfortable over distance, darkened glass good at hiding whatever you have to leave in it overnight outside hotels, and the economy, at 45mpg, impressive: I know it’s only a 1.5 but it is an automatic turbo petrol. Volkswagen routinely turns out smooth-driving, easygoing cars with a consistent, solid feel, and this is a great example. Unspectacular but impeccably quiet, with an unobtrusive engine and generally very easy to rub along with.