We are a little bit disappointed by Volkswagen’s new range-topping exec
The Volkswagen Arteon is yet another five-door coupe in an ever-growing marketplace – replacing one of the first modern sleek-look saloons, the Volkswagen CC (formerly called Passat CC). This one is derived from the latest Passat platform and gets a distinctive front end that points to how VW styling will further evolve in the future.
What sort of things does it show, which we can look forward to in upcoming Volkswagens? Things like how the grille runs seamlessly into the headlights, which emphasises width: it certainly makes for a striking appearance on the road. Expect to see variations of the blistered wheelarches and tightly-creased body sides on upcoming models too.
Underneath, it’s largely the same engineering as used on the Passat saloon, albeit with a longer wheelbase and wider tracks. This is a big car. While it’s been altering things like this, Volkswagen has also lowered the roofline and set the driving position lower. A range of engines are offered in Europe: expect 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesels to dominate in the UK.
Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TDI 240 4Motion Elegance
Price: £38,000 (tbc)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, twin-turbocharged diesel
Gearbox: Seven-speed twin-clutch automatic
Top speed: 152mph
CO2/tax band: 152g/km, 32%
Passat drivers will be familiar with the look of the dashboard, although it does feel rather more coupe-like than the four-door saloon. The bases of the windows are positioned higher up, and you get the sensation of stepping down into it beneath a rakish roofline, which makes it immediately feel sportier (as do the blind spots this stylish look creates).
There’s loads of technology available onboard, such as a fully electronic instrument pack and the button-less glass-fronted Discover Pro touchscreen infotainment system. It all looks modern and high tech, although losing hard controls for volume and map zoom means it’s not as easy to use as before.
It’s harder to fault the slickness of how it drives. The Arteon is very refined, even in test 237bhp twin-turbodiesel guise, and the combination of abundant pulling power plus an intuitive automatic gearbox makes for very elegant progress.
It rides quietly on the adaptive suspension of the test car, even on whopping 20-inch wheels, although actual bump absorbency is less all-encompassing. That’s in comfort mode too: turn it up to sport mode and it becomes noticeably choppier. And while handling is more engaging than a normal saloon, it’s still not a car that will please the keener driver.
Volkswagen indicates it will charge around £38,000 for this powerful turbodiesel Arteon, which puts it right into competition with the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. It’s very refined, practical and sophisticated, but we don’t think it’s quite good enough to overcome the badge snobbery the non-premium VW will suffer. It’s a decent car – but at this level, it needs to do a little bit more than that.