The Volkswagen Arteon 2.0TSI R-Line
The Volkswagen Arteon 2.0TSI R-Line

When Volkswagen was ready to launch the successor to the Passat CC, they also had a new name to bestow upon their flagship – Arteon. A suitably grand name for the Volkswagen Arteon also signalled that the brand wanted to distance the car from the Passat and lose any connotations of ‘posh Passat’ that were lingering about the CC.

With pricing starting from €37,495 for the very entry model, and €45k a relatively easy spend on an Arteon, it’s only right that buyers should be getting a little more than just a posh Passat! But on image and looks alone, the Volkswagen Arteon is in a class of its own. This is one of Volkswagen’s most avant garde designs to date, being both an adventurous and evocative deviation for the brand.

What’s special about the Volkswagen Arteon?

The Volkswagen Arteon is essentially a large coupé that’s good at carrying people and luggage too. This blueprint is something that premium manufacturers like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have been proffering with success in recent years. The Arteon feels every inch the grand cruiser from the driver’s seat and the two rear footwells are huge. Despite the coupé roofline, the rear headroom is not bad also. There is a large transmission tunnel in the middle, so the rear feels like more of a place for two VIPs than three. The boot opens hatchback style to reveal a large 563 litres.

Interior ambient lighting, full-width air vents and a fine mix of good quality materials enhance the plush feel of the cabin. However the design is not that much of a deviation from the Passat. Still with so much equipment and comfort features like predictive cruise control, parking sensors, tri zone climate control, dynamic road sign recognition, lane assist, rear traffic alert and excellent infotainment, there’s hardly much to complain about. The Active Info Display digital instrument cluster and 8″ touchscreen with clear glass surround are nice to look at and use, with seamless integration with smartphones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Volkswagen Arteon is styled like a coupé but inside there is plenty of passenger space
The Volkswagen Arteon is styled like a coupé but inside there is plenty of passenger space

Arteon Elegance models (from €42,350) add leather/Alcantara upholstery, ambient lighting, voice control, Active Info Display and rear view camera. R-Line models (from €44,695) add 19” alloys, R-Line styling kit, sporty ‘R-Line‘ steering wheel and seats, black headliner, keyless entry, locking and start, dynamic headlight range control with dynamic cornering function, and adaptive chassis control on the 240 hp model.

Engine options for the Volkswagen Arteon

So the Arteon looks great and it’s big and comfortable inside. But is it powerful and fast? Well, there’s quite a range of engines available including 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrols and a 2.0-litre diesel with 150 hp, 190 hp or 240 hp. The entry diesels certainly err on the side of economy. The Arteon is front wheel drive as standard but 4MOTION all wheel drive is available on the top of the range 240hp diesel, giving that model a more performance edge. 6 speed manual and 7 speed DSG gearboxes are available.

But there’s one engine that does look promising for buyers looking for a more soulful heart to their Arteon. That’s the 2.0TSI turbo petrol with 190hp. It’s rare to test drive a large car like the Arteon with a petrol engine, but these are strange times we live in.

The interior of the Volkswagen Arteon R-Line
The interior of the Volkswagen Arteon R-Line

Is the Arteon nice to drive?

Immediately clear is the silence in the cabin – no diesel gurgle! Then there is that pleasant, smooth, linear power delivery through the 7 speed automatic gearbox. 0 to 100 kmh is a swift 7.7 seconds with a hint of a roarty soundtrack under a heavy right foot. Motor tax for this model is €280 per year while my fuel consumption over a week of driving was 7.7l/100km. The Arteon 2.0TSI R-Line DSG on test had a list price of €46,695.

The thing is, the Volkswagen Arteon is just not a sporty car, no matter how you dress it up. While there is plenty of power on tap, the Arteon never feels like it wants to play in your hands. It’s a big front wheel drive car so while it can move well through corners, there’s no rear wheel drive agility or engagement here – just stoic, reliable handling and pretty dry palms.

Is that a problem? Not really if you just want a classy, large car to cruise in, which the Arteon generally does very well. However, the ride comfort was disappointing on the 20″ wheels added as an option to the test car, though the Arteon does give a more luxury ride on smaller wheels.

The Volkswagen Arteon is a classy, big car!
The Volkswagen Arteon is a classy, big car!

Should I buy the big Volkswagen?

The new Volkswagen Arteon certainly comes with prestige and an air of exclusivity that is mandatory for a flagship like this one: there’s no doubt that the Arteon is a step up from the Passat in terms of size, design and prestige. There is good value to be had in the Arteon range with plenty of equipment and technology, along with engines that offer swift performance and decent economy. The Arteon is not a sports car and delivers quite a neutral driving experience despite the evocative looks. But it does a good job of behaving like a large, luxury car, and that’s enough to keep it highly desirable.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Volkswagen Arteon R-Line 2.0TSI DSG
€46,695 (Range starts at €37,495)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Torque: 320Nm
7.7 seconds
Top speed: 239km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax: 
€280 per year