The new VW Arteon is due to go on sale in September, a rival to the A
This is the Arteon, a car VW is pitching as more than a replacement for its CC model, even though one joins the range as the other leaves it.
The CC, also previously known as the Passat CC, is basically a more stylish and more expensive coupe-styled four-door saloon than the regular Passat it’s closely related to.
Though it’s not quite so close as the CC, thanks to a more striking design, the new name is supposed to give it more of an identity as the car tries to grab the attention of buyers more inclined to go for a prestigious badge on the nose.
The idea is that the Arteon, which will cost from around £38,000, is priced around the level of BMW and Audi rivals but will offer a lot more equipment for the money, as well as class-leading interior and boot space.
This is a grand touring sort of car rather than a sporty four-door coupe
To look at, it’s clear it’s a VW but the step away from being too much like a Passat is a successful one.
The nose looks particularly aggressive, with the wide headlights helping give the car a vast and imposing appearance, while the sweeping roofline blending into the elegant rear end offers a good-looking design that seems to translate better in the metal than it looks in pictures.
That’s helped by the Arteon only being offered with a minimum of 18-inch alloys and going up to 20-inch wheels that completely fill the arches and give the car a purposeful look.
The engine range is a little surprising in that there are only two options. Both are big, powerful units offering little for drivers concerned about how much fuel they’re using.
It’s part of this attempt to take on the big boys of Audi and BMW and pricing the car high but mainland Europe gets a couple of lower-powered diesels that would massively increase appeal here.
There are no current plans to add them, something Volkswagen will keep under review, so we’re getting either a 240bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel or a 2.0-litre 280bhp turbo petrol.
When VW is predicting that a 280bhp petrol engine will be the biggest seller then you know it’s not expecting to shift too many. The diesel is predictably the most efficient, though still only offering provisional figures of 47.9mpg and 152g/km emissions.
The Arteon is a smart car, it uses GPS to limit cruise control speeds
The TSI petrol engine, by comparison, is at 38.7mpg and 164g/km, though with the car not going on sale in the UK until September, VW is saying those numbers may yet change slightly The faster of the two is the petrol, which covers the 0 to 60mph acceleration in a rapid 5.6 seconds, though the diesel will be less than a second behind it.
Both cars come with Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system as standard, along with the DSG seven-speed automatic gearbox. As well as being strikingly designed and toting powerful engines the Arteon also debuts some clever technology on the route to self-driving cars.
The latest cruise control system from Volkswagen will now control the speed of the car using GPS-mapped speed limits and a camera that reads road signs and gantries. Setting the cruise automatically has the car adhering to the current speed limit and braking or accelerating as it changes.
But it gets even cleverer. Using the sat nav mapping it will also slow for bends and, if a route is set, slow down for junctions or turns off the main road.
● Model: Volkswagen Arteon
● On sale: September
● Prices: est. £38,000-£40,000
● Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 2.0-litre; Turbo-diesel – 2.0-litre
● Power: 0 to 60mph in 5.6 seconds, 155mph top speed (2.0 280bhp)
● Average fuel economy: 47.9mpg (2.0TD)
● CO2 emissions: 152-164g/km
● Rivals: Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe
● Rating: ★★★★★★★✩✩✩
It’s not perfect, managing to brake for a sign that didn’t exist at one point, putting the car dangerously out of kilter with motorway traffic speed. It’s also predictably conservative in terms of braking for speed limit changes and bends – to the point where traffic following behind will wonder what you’re up to.
But iron out the creases and it’ll be a very clever piece of kit. It can also be tailored to slightly above or below the speed limit, should that be required, which helps VW stress that it’s not a device that will prevent speeding or take responsibility from the driver. When the driver is in control it’s as relaxing an experience as letting the car do the work.
The engines are refined and powerful, while the automatic gearbox is slick and difficult to fluster. The ride is reasonable rather than particularly cosseting and the comfortable seats make for relaxing cruising. It’s fair to say this is a grand touring sort of car rather than a sporty four-door coupe.
It can take four people and their luggage long distances in classy comfort but isn’t massively rewarding for a solo blast. The cabin is basically like a top-spec Passat would look, except for the latest infotainment system.
The Arteon is a solid entry into the market, more of a grand tourer than a coupe
It’s the regular one found across the latest Volkswagen Group models but is up with the smartest in the business for looks, usability and sensitivity and responsiveness of the 9.2-inch touchscreen system. The Arteon’s practicality is where it really impresses, with a huge amount of rear space.
No one will be struggling for legroom and there’s a surprising amount of headroom given that swooping roofline, though taller rear passengers will find themselves staring at roof lining rather than out of the window. The boot is also hefty, with the 563 litres comparing with a BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe’s 480 litres, accessed by a full hatchback, which helps practicality.
Both boot and rear legroom are claimed best in class, with the Arteon being nearly 2.5 inches longer than the old Passat CC and with a wheelbase more than five inches longer. VW’s new flagship saloon looks great and should come loaded with equipment when Volkswagen firms up what will be standard on the sporty R-Line and higher quality Elegance trim levels.
The big issue is lack of engine choice, and fitting the lesser diesels mainland Europe will get would open up the car to a batch of people that maybe won’t spend £38,000-£40,000 on a VW when they could have a slightly less well-equipped BMW or Audi for very similar money. Until that point the Arteon will be something of a minority player. Good, but competing in a very small pool.