Test Drives

Volkswagen Arteon Review: Artful assault

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VW edges in on Audi and BMW’s sporty fastback territory with its quick, competent and beautiful Arteon 

Hannover, Germany – 

volkswagen arteon singapore price 20172What’s an Arteon? Never heard of it…
In Volkswagen’s tradition of creating complex new names for models, the name is a combination of, wait for it, ‘art’ and ‘eon’, implying timeless creativity, we think. In a word, the Arteon is the successor to VW’s four-door coupe, the CC, formerly known as the Passat CC. In short, it’s the sort of car you buy if you want something that looks shapely, sporty and is comfortable, but isn’t a big sedan or SUV.

So why the ‘art’?
The reason for this is that VW is aiming to position the Arteon a step upwards into the luxury four-door coupe segment, competing against the likes of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback. 

volkswagen arteon singapore price 20179The terminology’s changed too, now VW isn’t calling the car a four-door coupe, but a five-door gran turismo, implying more of an emphasis on comfort, style and smoothness. Given Volkswagen’s ‘semi-premium’ positioning above mainstream Japanese and Continental brands in Singapore, it might sound bizarre, but keep in mind VW is solidly mainstream both in Europe and other countries. 

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Full-length clamshell bonnet on a Volkswagen? You’d better believe it…

Ah, so it’s cool-looking, big, comfy, fun to drive…
VW is taking some risks with the design here, and we think it’s paid off some. The car’s looks are based heavily on the Sport Coupe GTE Concept VW showed off at Geneva’s 2015 edition, and it’s a real feather in the engineering and design teams’ hats that so much of the concept’s radicalness has been preserved: There’s the striking new face with a wing-like grille, the multiple-slat headlights that really do stick out, the hefty shoulder lines that resolve into not one, nor two but three creases on the clamshell bonnet that spans the entire front. 

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Do I get any say in the appearance?
Yes. In buyer’s terms, you’ll be able to choose between two looks, the Elegance and the racier R-Line pictured here. The latter has the R-Line bodykit, like many other VW models do, with the larger air intakes, more aggressive profile, front splitter and rear lip spoiler, as well as R-Line goodies on the inside like black roofliner, R-Line badges and technical-looking aluminium trim. 

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Curcuma Yellow is deep gold in real life and quite stunning – think more yellow than BMW M’s Austin Yellow 

What’s under the hood? 

Again, to distance the Arteon from its more common brother-in-MQB Passat, it gets a more powerful engine choice in the 280bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine (a considerable figure and more powerful than the current Golf GTI) although their EA888 roots are nominally identical.

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All the range-topping engine variants get 4MOTION all-wheel drive as standard globally, and paired with the hefty horsepower figure means the car scrambles from 0-100km/h in just 5.6 seconds, which is proper quick even in this day and age. 

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Does it do GT – fast, effortless, comfy, fun? 
VW says more attention has been paid to the car’s driving dynamics, and a new addition to the VW feature stable is a more granular choice of setup for the Dynamic Chassis Control, although the 20-inch wheels (the largest size available) shod to our test car meant it did bring bumps and expansion joints to our attention at most times.

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But overall the Arteon’s high level of refinement is where 180km/h feels not far from 20km/h for passengers, even less so for drivers, it has the level of composure and smoothness that makes long-distance driving easy. In the few corners we enjoyed on the mostly flat, straight test route, the Arteon felt properly sporty and able to hold good corner speeds with lots of grip and feedback, although a final verdict can only be had on a more demanding set of roads – our test route was mostly straight and uninspiring. 

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The Arteon builds on existing active safety features, such as the improved Proactive Safety system that prepares for rear impacts 

That sounds promising, what about the inside? 
It’s very Passat-like, and given the accomplishment of the latest Passat, that’s praise. It doesn’t have the sheer pizzazz of an Audi interior, but it’s clean, wide, open. Style never gets in the way of function, but it’s far from brutally utilitarian, with more than enough touches of quality to be perceived as a luxury product.

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Quite like the latest Passat but that’s not a bad thing at all

Colour us interested. So should I part with my dollars for art? 
Traversing the luxury gap is something that VW has done well (current Touareg SUV) and not-so-well (Phaeton luxury limo), but the Arteon makes a very convincing case as a modern iteration of what VW thinks a gran turismo should be: It’s beautifully-designed, oozes charisma, is the harbinger of style to come, demolishes distances convincingly and does more than just help the driver.

That it’ll probably cost less than its German rivals is, if you’re not a brand tourist, the grandest thing about it.

Volkswagen Singapore says it’s aiming for a 2018 motor show debut for the Arteon, and given the price of the current Passat, as well as the positioning of the previous CC, it’s likely to cost around $190k at current COE levels, which means it’s almost certainly going to be less expensive than Audi’s A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. 

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Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TSI 280bhp R-Line 
Engine 1,984cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 280bhp at 5100-6500rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1700-6500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch 
Top Speed 250km/h 
0-100km/h 5.6 seconds  
Fuel efficiency 7.3L/100km 
CO2 164g/km

Price $TBA
Availability January 2018
Also Consider: BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Audi A5 Sportback 

about the author

Derryn Wong