Is this a shrewd, lower-cost route to sleek four-door luxury motoring? Let’s find out

Why we’re running it: To see if a cut-price luxury offering can be as urbane to live with as it is to look at

Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Volkswagen Arteon: Month 1

Welcoming the Arteon to our fleet – 27th June 2018

The Arteon is a curious thing, and not only because it’s pure motor show concept from the front but looks like a taxi when viewed side on.

Notwithstanding the fantastically slippery XL1 plugin hybrid of 2013, this is the most dramatic design Volkswagen has given us in modern times. And putting aside for a moment the new Touareg SUV, with which the Arteon shares so much of it general aesthetic, it’s also VW’s flagship offering.

It’s a level of status at odds with the reality that success for this car largely hinges on its suitability to motorway drudgery. It’s your silver-plated porridge spoon, if you like.

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This particular Arteon’s specification differs from the norm, mind. A diet of diesel has long been the preference for big-mileage executive saloons, but our fresh-faced long-term test car is propelled by the backstop of the engine lineup: the turbocharged 1.5-litre TSI Evo petrol engine. In a Golf, it’s a compelling proposition and one we’re particularly fond of, with a levity that makes spinning it out a satisfying endeavour but enough torque to ensure you’re never asked to work particularly hard for swift progress.

In the Golf, it can also deactivate two of its four cylinders under light throttle loads between 1400rpm and 4000rpm for improved fuel efficiency, and the same is true for the Arteon. Whether its outputs of 148bhp and 184lb ft are as suited to a four-door fastback some 350kg heavier than the hatch is something we’ll discover in due course.

Combined fuel economy is quoted at 48.7mpg (the most efficient model in the range, a similarly powerful 2.0-litre diesel, is quoted at 65.7mpg) with CO2 emissions of 131g/km. With a 66-litre fuel tank, that’s good enough for a range of more than 700 miles.

Meanwhile, the claimed 0-62mph is 8.9sec, which although far from shameful doesn’t quite cash the cheque written by the assertive front-end design.

The spec we’ve gone for is the entry-level Elegance, which is one of only two available in the UK, the other being R-Line. We’ll be swapping one for t’other in a few months’ time, but for now our Arteon cuts a more restrained figure, and does without gloss black air intakes, aggressive bumpers and 19in wheels. The paint is a metallic shade called Chilli Red and costs £595.

You can buy an Arteon variously with a manual transmission and with Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system, but ours channels power to the front axle alone, and through a seven-speed dual-clutch ’box that can either be left alone or controlled through a pair of stubby steering-wheel-mounted paddles. 4Motion models come with active DCC dampers and a 15mm drop in ride height as standard, although our car uses a passive set-up.

Inside, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, with the stark, clean, expansive architecture left slightly hanging by a range of materials and finishes – notably gloss black and aluminium – that don’t do an awful lot to excite. There’s also a strong whiff of Passat in there, which isn’t surprising given that’s the model with which the Arteon shares its basic construction.

The nappa leather seats, meanwhile, are VW’s ergoComfort models with electric adjustment for the backs and lumbar support but manual levers for height and reach. You’d get exactly the same shape in an R-Line Arteon.

We’ve been sparing with optional extras in an attempt to hone the Arteon’s appeal as a value proposition relative to its lavish overtones. It means that along with the paint, the only other boxes we’ve ticked are those for the £900 keyless entry with the electric tailgate, which can be opened by swiping your foot beneath the rear bumper, and a £315 rear-view camera. You might have expected VW to throw in a rear-view camera for ‘free’, given this is its flagship saloon, but no.

One tempting option we didn’t elect for is VW’s £985 Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system, and there’s a good reason why we’ve settled for the standard 8.0in display. Fact is, superb as the 9.2in glass touchscreen of the Pro might look, it does without any physical buttons or switches, so there are no scrolling dials for quick, sightless adjustments to volume and navigation zoom. We’re also far from convinced with VW’s efforts to implement gesture control, which are still hampered by inconsistent response.

As it is, the total outlay was £34,555, which places the car, well, where among the alternatives, exactly? You could buy a base-spec Audi A5 Sportback SE for few grand less, but we reckon you’d need to spend at least £38,500 to spec it to a similar level as our Arteon. For one thing, the VW is equipped as standard not only with a 12.3in digital instrument binnacle but also a range of safety-oriented technologies such as predictive cruise control, lane-assist, pedestrian monitoring and emergency braking at city speeds.

Of course, there’s an indefinable element to luxury that has little or nothing to do with value for money. What we’ll endeavour to discover during the next few months is whether this car has it or if those who crave the sophisticated aura of a ‘four-door coupé’ and view Arteon ownership as an inexpensive way in should steer clear.

Second Opinion

I wasn’t a big fan of that wing-shaped front grille on our R-Line road test car, but something about its look on this Elegance-spec long-term test car appeals more to me. And I love the way the chrome bars run over the headlights.

Richard Lane

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Volkswagen Arteon 1.5 TSI EVO Elegance specification

Specs: Price New £32,745 Price as tested: £34,555 Options: Metallic paint £595, keyless entry and hands-free tailgate operation £900, rear-view camera £315

Test Data: Engine 1498cc, 4-cylinder, turbocharged, petrol Power 147bhp at 5000rpm Torque 184lb ft at 1500rpm Top speed 138mph 0-62mph 8.7sec Claimed fuel economy 54.3mpg Test fuel economy 43.1 CO2 119g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Comments
25

18 August 2018

Makes the forthcoming 508 look possitively exotic. 

18 August 2018
michael knight wrote:

Makes the forthcoming 508 look possitively exotic. 

 

Makes the Mazda 6 look positively amazing value, too.

18 August 2018

The old passat cc that this, I think, replaces was a far better looking car, this seems rear heavy and bland where the cc seemed elegant. I am surprised that this is their flagship, I would have expected an SUV like Audi, though I would take a car over an SUV any day.

 

FMS

19 August 2018
si73 wrote:

The old passat cc that this, I think, replaces was a far better looking car, this seems rear heavy and bland where the cc seemed elegant. I am surprised that this is their flagship, I would have expected an SUV like Audi, though I would take a car over an SUV any day.

 

 

Do you mean the CC, or the Passat cc that came before?.

18 August 2018
Individuals need to take in some imperative things which they use in the mid-year. Since in summer, we require various sort of homework for me which implies that here everything has numerous significance for us. Since we require this to appreciate in the summer.

18 August 2018

I can't see too many of these selling in the UK, a decent secondhand buy though no doubt!

18 August 2018

As a 'lifestyle' type of car, it stands or falls by its perceived desirability.

Like the Mercedes CLS where each subsequent generation looks less distinctive, more cautious and homogenized, this Arteon has almost totally lost the fluid sweeping lines of the Passat CC.

A pointless sequel.

18 August 2018

Some taxi!

Beauty is the eye of the beholder and THIS beholder finds it reasonably attractive in an understated way.

Tell us about its suspension, its roadholding, its long-distance ability, etc. Please?

18 August 2018

 Well, yes, does what it says on the Tin and all that, but to get a spec you want your adding another 10-20% and a lot of the extra stuff on this should be standard.

Peter Cavellini.

18 August 2018

A strong whiff of Passat in there? Surely its an overwhelming stench as they've done little to disguise its roots. And, amazingly, AE complained about the cheapness of the switchear in their long term Arteon...

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