2017 Volkswagen Arteon Review: Halo Car Is Hard To Justify

Introduction

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz might be the usual suspects that you think of when considering a luxury fast-back saloon, but now Volkswagen wants in on the action. It’s adamant that this isn’t a replacement for the Passat CC – the Arteon is a larger car – but for all intents and purposes, it might as well be.

But this is a fashion-conscious machine in a segment where image and brand kudos matters. Can the VW Arteon persuade badge snobs to part with more than £33k and not regret it?

Body Style: 5-door hatchback Seats: 5                    MRP: £34,305 - £39,540    

 

Did you know? The Arteon started life as the Volkswagen Sport Coupe Concept GTE back in 2015.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

The Volkswagen Arteon is a well-executed car with handsome looks and a quality feel.

It isn’t the most involving car to drive in its class, but spec the Dynamic Chassis Control, and the motorway miles tick by as you bask in its refinement.

The Arteon’s hatchback makes it a practical thing, able to swallow more of life's luggage than the equivalent A5 Sportback or 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Ultimately, then, Volkswagen should be commended on what is a very good car. However, it has jumped right into the middle of an extremely competitive boxing match - one where what logo sits in the grill is a big factor.

On top of that, the VW isn't likely to hold its value as well as the established rivals, but it is cheaper to buy when you factor in all of the executive toys it gets as standard, and of course it'll also appeal to those who simply want to be different. 

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

We Like

Handsome design

Advanced safety tech

High quality interior

We Don't Like

Price that rivals premium brands

Overly light steering

Tight rear headroom

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

It’s a looker, isn’t it? The Arteon points to the future of Volkswagen design – a future where the company is keen to make a style statement. This car sticks very closely to the Sport Coupe Concept GTE seen back in 2015 – no bad thing.

A wide chromed grille that stretches out and into the headlights immediately makes a premium statement. Pin-sharp creases run from nose to tail, creating an athletic-looking shape that's further enhanced by the tapering fastback profile.

Of course it carries the obligatory polished alloys and chrome-work, but it also features more intricate details like scrolling indicators. The Volkswagen Arteon is eye-catching, but not crass. It has an air of sophistication about it.

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

The cabin is very well executed, both in terms of design and ergonomics. Neat clusters of buttons are housed on the wheel while other button-based clutter is kept to a minimum by an 8- or 9.2-inch display.

Soft-touch materials convey a sense of high quality, as does the ribbon of brushed aluminium trim that circles the interior. You'll have to root around and below knee height before you'll find some harder plastics. An analogue clock crowns the centre console and even the air vents serve as a design element, spanning the width of the dash.

Entry-level Elegance cars are equipped with heated Nappa leather seats that are ideal for lengthy stints in the car. But if you fancy something a bit sportier, R-Line models get a pair of more heavily bolstered seats with contrast stitching.

Rear visibility is usually an issue for cars with sloping backs, but not so much in the Arteon. The glass still sits at a shallow angle, but its large size helps to deliver a decent view out to the back. That said, we’d still recommend the array of cameras offered to make life easier.

Practicality

The age-old battle of style versus substance arises here as the coupe-esque roofline eats into rear headroom. Space in the rear isn’t terrible – legroom is vast, but tall adults won’t want to spend too much time in the back.

A hatchback opening makes life easy when filling the 563-litre boot, but an aggressively sloping rear window does limit tall items. The rear bench splits 60/40 and if you fold it flat a generous 1,557 litres is all yours.

There are a few nice options for the boot including a luggage net to prevent things from sliding around, or a boot liner to protect the car. At about £50 they aren’t badly priced either.  

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive
2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Every Volkswagen Arteon comes with an 8-inch touchscreen that's responsive and generally easy to navigate.

Ticking the box on the optional Discovery Navigation Pro increases the screen to 9.2 inches and adds voice control, gesture control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It might cost the thick end of £500 but it is a worthwhile upgrade on something we are all increasingly dependent on in our cars.

Something else that even the cheapest Elegance models get is a 12.3-inch driver display. The wide screen replaces analogue dials with crisp, digital incarnations. You can customise the information displayed to include nav, music choice, trip computer and anything else you can think of. The centre screen can give you a better idea of your surroundings while a zoomed-in segment of the map will appear on the driver display for more immediate navigation commands.

The GPS info has been tied into more systems than just the nav in the Arteon – the car can track exactly where it is and allow the advanced cruise control to respond to changes in the speed limit, and even slow for tight corners and roundabouts. The GPS data is even utilised by the headlights, which face into an approaching bend even before you turn the wheel. 

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Performance

There are a few engine options to choose from, but both petrol and diesel offerings are derivatives of 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre units.

The 1.5-litre TSI begins proceedings, bringing 148bhp to the Arteon party, albeit not until later in 2017. It’ll be available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automatic.

Until the smaller petrol arrives, a 2-litre 189bhp serves as the current entry-level petrol. It's a refined operator that supplies brisk momentum once past the momentary lick of turbo lag. Cog-swapping is taken care of by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that suits this car very well.

Topping the range is a 276bhp 2-litre TSI petrol engine, complete with all-wheel drive and the seven-speed auto. It certainly accelerates at quite a rate of knots, with the added grip of the 4Motion system allowing you to exploit the performance on offer in a similar manner to a VW Golf R. 

The biggest seller is expected to be the 2-litre TDI with 148bhp. This diesel opens the oil-burner batting with adequate performance, despite being the least powerful TDI. Sure, it doesn’t feel as strong as its more powerful all-wheel-drive-equipped siblings, but it will meet most people’s needs. The engine emits the usual diesel gargle under load, but once up to speed it is very quiet. We tested the seven-speed auto and found gearchanges to be near-seamless when the gearbox is left to its own devices, but it can be caught napping when selecting gears via the paddles.

Top dog, when it comes to diesels, is an all-wheel-drive 237bhp 2-litre twin-turbo model. The combination of 369lb ft of torque and the all-weather traction of 4Motion all-wheel drive means it’s a pretty rapid package. Regardless of gear, the low-down shove of the diesel surges you along, and the mandatory automatic gearbox is pretty faultless in this model.

Handling and comfort

The Volkswagen Arteon sits on the flexible MQB platform that is used on everything from the Golf to the large SUVs that VW sells in the states.

Around town, the Arteon's light steering helps mask the car’s size, making it a relaxing thing to potter around in – especially if you go for an automatic model.

The ride can come across a tad firm on rutted tarmac, especially with the larger alloy wheels. The optional adaptive dampers allow you to put the suspension into a comfort setting – which is ideal for our broken British roads.

Drive with a bit more verve, and the Arteon serves up a sprightly change of direction and a pleasing resistance to body roll. There's a sense of composure that, when combined with high levels of grip, make it feel very secure. However, the steering is a too light to really satisfy in vigorous driving, and even in the heavier Sport setting it's not overly feelsome. A BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe this is not.

Add the Dynamic Chassis Control and you’ll discover the customisable Individual setting to be the Goldilocks mode. We found ourselves spending most of the time with the suspension in its most comfortable setting, but the steering in its sportiest.

Recommended engine: 2.0-litre TDI SCR DSG

0-62mph

9.1 seconds

Fuel economy

62.8mpg

CO2 emissions

116g/km

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★★★ (9/10)

There’s a good amount of safety kit as standard on the Arteon. As well as your usual collection of airbags and City Emergency Braking, you also get things like Lane Assist, fatigue detection and adaptive cruise control to keep a safe distance from the car ahead.

When it comes to strapping in the little ones, there are a pair of Isofix points in the back.

There are a few optional bits of safety kit, one being blind-spot monitoring that comes part of the Side Assist Plus pack. However, it is the Emergency Assist option that is definitely worth ticking. It might cost nearly £700, but it could just save your life.

Emergency Assist kicks in if the driver becomes unresponsive. The car will begin to dab the brakes and tug at your seatbelt to get your attention. If that fails the car begins to take action. Using the vast array of onboard sensors, the Arteon will begin to make its way to the side of the road. Monitoring traffic and indicating, it will change lane and come to a stop with hazard lights ablaze. If the driver is still not conscious the car will call the emergency services.

Unsurprisingly the Arteon has been awarded the full five stars from Euro NCAP for safety.

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Colours

Considering that most rivals offer a selection of dark tones, the Arteon colour pallet is quite varied. OK, the only standard colour is grey, but there is a metallic blue, red, or even the car's signature Turmeric yellow that can be had for less than £600.

Audi can offer more exotic colours on the A5 Sportback through exclusive paint options. This allows you to customise a shade to your liking, however it does cost £2,400.

What do you think the most expensive colour for the Arteon is? A volcanic orange? A shade of blue inspired by a sapphire? No, it’s white. Over £1,000 buys you Oryx White. We’d give that a miss.

Trim Levels

There are only two to choose from, Elegance and R Line, with less than £800 between the two.

Elegance comes with plenty of standard equipment such as an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 12-inch driver’s display. More techno-wizardry comes in the form of three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control and LED lights. Nappa Leather heated seats also come at no extra cost.

R-Line brings an extra dose of style – 19-inch alloy wheels, more chrome and the obligatory R-Line badging can be found on the outside. Inside there are some sportier seats, black roof lining, and a few shinier bits of trim, but we'd save the money and stick with Elegance.

Despite a generous amount of standard kit, there’s still a notable and rather costly options list. The panoramic sunroof is a good way to let more natural light into the car, but at over £900 it might make you think twice. Heads-up display, electric tailgate and reversing camera can prove to be costly options that many will want to add as well and the Arteon’s main rivals get a powered tailgate as standard.

It’s not just the Arteon that suffers from costly toys – most executive cars have a pricey options list – but it is something to be aware of. 

Size and Dimensions

Length

4,862mm

Width excluding mirrors

1,871mm

Height

1,450mm

Max towing weight unbraked/braked

750kg/1,800-2,200kg

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

The Arteon is brand-spanking new, so some engine and gearbox options have yet to be tested for fuel economy.

As things stand the 148bhp 2-litre TDI with the automatic gearbox is the most efficient at over 60mpg, however, we would expect the manual car to supersede it once tested. It comes as no surprise that the most powerful 2-litre petrol with 276bhp is the thirstiest, rated at 38mpg combined.

All Volkswagen Arteons escape the government's £40k tax trap, but if you go wild with adding gadgets that might change – especially as the top of the range diesel sails perilously close already.

At just under £400 a month following a £3,000 deposit, we found that PCP deals on the Arteon came in as near identical to those offered on the Audi A5 Sportback, while an equivalent BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is around £50 a month more expensive.

Business users will find the Arteon to be roughly the same cost as its obvious rivals. BIK tax for the 2.0 TDI 150 DSG comes in at around £280 a month, versus £270 for a BMW 420d Gran Coupe auto. Over three years, the Volkswagen will cost £10,776 in BIK tax. 

Reliability and servicing

Volkswagens are usually built pretty well, with their reliability being one of the reasons why people buy them. The Arteon is a new model and so there is no direct history to go on, but it does share plenty of bits with a Passat and they seem to hold up well.

All Volkswagens come with a three year, 60,000 mile warranty, which you can extend up to five years, albeit at a cost of almost £1,000. With brands such as Kia offering seven year/100,000 mile warranties as standard across the range, it does raise the question of why some others haven’t followed suit.

Minor

10,000 miles / 12 months

Major

20,000 miles / 24 months

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing has yet to be released for entry-level 1.5-litre Arteons, but the rest of the range is competitively priced against the A5 Sportback and 4 Series Gran Coupe, despite the Arteon's more generous standard equipment. 

2.0-litre cars kick off at just over £33k for a petrol, or £34k for a diesel.

The most expensive Arteon is the 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel at just over £39k for an Elegance car to just shy of £40k for an R-Line. Both come standard with all-wheel drive and a 7-speed automatic gearbox.

Top spec R-Line trim is only an £800 increase over base level Elegance. A worthwhile upgrade if you are looking for added style for relatively little cash. However, we’d stick with the Elegance and use the saving to option a few more gadgets.

2017 Volkswagen Arteon first drive

Recommendations

Tech Junkie

Adding the 9.2-inch Discovery Navigation Pro is a must, but trim levels don’t really influence tech.

Cost Conscious

1.5-litre diesels offer the best economy. Upgrading to R-Line doesn’t cost much in the grand scheme of things, but Elegance trim is more than enough for most.

Luxury Seeker

 Go for R-Line and make sure you option the adaptive dampers for a softer ride.

Rivals

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

The enthusiast’s choice. Keen handling, but the options list can be a killer.

Jaguar XE

Recently refreshed Jag is a strong competitor. Lacks practicality though.

Audi A5 Sportback

Classy interior and a good all-rounder.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Comfy cruiser but lacks the visual impact of rivals.

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