Behind The Wheel
Once behind the wheel and putting the Arteon through its paces, most owners should discover how elegantly it drives. Compared to the Passat and CC, the Arteon bring a new level of luxury, refinement, and feel that VW hasn't seen before. Its VW's attempt again to bring luxury to an attainable segment but with modest performance and driving feel. But don't set your expectations too high, its a small incremental step above both its smaller sibling and its predecessor. There are still improvements to be made such as an increase in low-to-mid range power and overall, more of a sporty edge.
- Keep it a little bit more dignified and the petrol unit's nicely refined, and more in keeping with the Arteon's somewhat grown-up feel. There's some sophistication to the drive, VW claiming its chassis people developed the Arteon from the start to ride well on huge 20-inch alloy wheels, and for the most part they've done a good job of it.
- The wide track aids its stability, the 4Motion four-wheel drive brings with it reassuring traction, the grip is high and the steering accurate, if lacking in anything you could describe as feedback.
- At its best when you're lolloping, rather than racing, the Arteon's a convincing long-distance cruiser, in keeping with its brief.
- At a typical cruise, when the dual-clutch gearbox keeps the engine spinning relatively slowly, the car is far from unrefined - and when you need to pick up speed on part-throttle, the transmission shifts smartly, fairly smoothly and judiciously when left in 'D' and the engine's torque feels ample.
- Still, the Arteon's acceleration benchmarks are closer to the 330d's than the A4's and, for a car priced and proportioned as it is, that may be considered enough by many.
- CarAdvice.com.auWhile not bereft of low-down torque, the big VW performs at its best with a generous helping of revs on the tacho. Selecting Sport mode helps notably.
- GTSpirit.comAs traffic cleared later on, there were plenty of opportunities to see what the 240 horsepower strong four-cylinder engine is made of. The potent powertrain swiftly reached higher speeds and especially has lots to give in the lower rpm. Impressive was the lack of wind noise in the cabin at higher speeds, with the engine being relatively silent for a four-cylinder.
As a 4 door taking on luxurious cues with modest performance positioning it to be the ideal cruiser, a greater emphasis on interior features is to be expected. The interior remains functional with adequate front and rear seating, even with the sloping roof. An 8-inch touchscreen, parking sensors (front and rear) along with ACC (adaptive cruise control) that uses GPS data all come reasonably standard. An impressive smartphone-like 9.2-inch infotainment system is optional and part of VW's new move towards advanced infotainment systems, its worth the premium.
- It borrows heavily from the current Passat and is a functional space with only a veneer of stylish, expressive form beyond a central air vent that extends the width of the dashboard. Flair? Not here.
- There's no shortage of standard equipment, either, including an 8.0in touchscreen, parking sensors at both ends and adaptive cruise control that can use GPS data to adjust for upcoming speed limits.
- The optional, smartphone-esque 9.2in Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system (£895) in our Arteon test car is part of Volkswagen's new generation of Modular Infotainment System devices.
- Its crisp-looking, glass-fronted touchscreen is satisfyingly slick in operation and therefore safer to use than previous iterations, but there are no physical controls to press or twist and marks left on the screen by greasy fingers soon impinge on the high-tech ambience.
- The ergonomics are every bit as good as we've come to expect from cars built on the MQB platform, with plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel and seats.
- Rear seat passengers also benefit from the long wheelbase. Sitting behind myself (1.88m) I am left with an abundance of leg and knee space. Headspace leaves room for improvement, but if you were to lean back a little and use the space ahead of you to its full extent, it's a problem solved.
- In general the interior of the Arteon looks clean and well-built. Customers that want more premium could opt for the Nappa leather package, fully electric 14-way seats with memory function, ambient lighting and premium inserts. The R-Line design already adds the Volkswagen clock to the center of the dashboard.
- The 8-inch touchscreen is neatly integrated into the dashboard and is very responsive. In fact, it is one of the best and most responsive touch screens I have worked with so far. It forms a nice bond with the digital instruments behind the steering wheel, which are also configurable to one's taste.
Playing into the stronger emphasis on interior features are a whole host of assistance systems, similar to what you will find on other new VW products. These include lane assist, predictive headlamps, and an advanced emergency system that will pull the Arteon over on its own in situations the driver is incapacitated. GPS comes into play with bend assist for better judgement of cornering speeds. Overall you will get an impressive watered down version of advanced autonomous driving tech that will make vehicles completely self reliant.
- TopGearVW is likely to sweeten the offering with a high level of standard equipment, the Arteon debuting the firm's most advanced driver assistance and safety technology, from a speed assistant, lane assist, predictive headlamps, an emergency assist that'll pull the car over if you're incapacitated, to a bend assistant that uses GPS data to judge cornering speeds when you're using the driver aids. All very clever stuff, and likely to be bundled into a package if it's not already in the standard equipment list.
- GTSpirit.comVolkswagen knows how to reap the benefits from modular architecture and shared technology and turn it into an attractive and affordable package like no other brand. The Volkswagen Arteon comes with several new driver assistance systems that boast semi-autonomous capabilities. An example is the new ACC with integrated speed limit recognition and standard lane departure warning. It works like a charm and makes your drive that much more comfortable if you are worried about speeding. The optional traffic jam assist makes your daily commute much more relaxed as well, with the ability to drive semi-autonomous up to speeds of 60 km/h.
One big area the Arteon stands out is with handling since for a big and heavy vehicle that can use a boost of power, its quite impressive. Its just slightly sportier feeling than the Passat, one publication reported this to be about a 10 percent increase in grip, agility, composure and driver involvement. An option of three suspension modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) tailors the Arteon more to your needs with an option to further adjust where you want to be in each mode. In the end you should discover that the Arteon has a great balance of comfort, sporty handling characteristics, and low-end torque.
- The Arteon handles with a tidy, wieldy, uncomplicated sort of poise that disguises its size and weight up to a point, but we must recognise that this car is larger, heavier and more practical than most of the style-centred executive options with which it'll be compared.
- At road-appropriate pace, the car strikes you as a slightly flatter, keener and more vigorous take on a familiar theme: a Passat with about 10 percent more grip, agility, composure and driver involvement.
- The suspension offers adjustment through the usual settings including Comfort, Normal and Sport, though via the slider bar there's an option for the indecisive to select between them. That's a lot of suspension choices, and, really, unless you've particularly sensitive of bottom you're unlikely to notice any sizeable difference between them.
- Predictably enough, though, the Arteon's 19in wheels and low-profile tyres set the lowered suspension a very tough task to deliver the kind of ride suppleness and bump absorption you'd want in a car like this - and they fail as often as they narrowly succeed.
- There's well-judged weight to the steering, though, and as you begin to explore how briskly the Arteon can be whisked along a sweeping road, there seems a moderately impressive kind of precision and tenacity to its handling that you'd put beyond the ability of an average family four-door.
- Such is the car's cornering prowess the Arteon feels half a size smaller than it actually is - more like a Jetta than a Passat-sized car. The VW turns in slightly slower than the similarly sized Ford Mondeo, as one example, but the Arteon is more poised than the Ford - another mid-sized lift-back sedan - with more consistent handling, better body control and higher levels of grip. The VW's steering is more communicative too.
- Volkswagen has probably found the right balance of ride comfort and cornering ability by relying on the Arteon's all-wheel drive system to ensure strong grip and consistent handling without the need for nailing the suspension down hard.
- Although you would expect the Arteon to transcend on the highway, it certainly impressed more on those curvy country roads. I often find steering in Volkswagens a bit clinical and overcompensated, but the Arteon positively surprised me. This is partly the result of its high body rigidity, which is characteristic for the MQB platform it stands on, allowing for more precise steering.
- I also really noticed the work that Volkswagen put into the Arteon's progressive steering module, being able to drive quite dynamically without making any aggressive steering maneuvers. Thanks to the large 20-inch wheels and the steering feedback I was really able to place the Arteon right where I wanted it.