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Volkswagen’s elegant work of Arteon has premium feel

PUBLISHED: 07:32 30 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:10 16 February 2018

Volkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: Volkswagen

Volkswagen

Volkswagen launches a new assault on the executive express market with its Arteon fastback. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out if it is a class act.

Volkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: VolkswagenVolkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: Volkswagen

I’ve always thought of Volkswagen being stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to a premium image. Mainstream models are at the top end when it comes to quality but the brand has struggled to crack the prestige market.

The Phaeton large luxury saloon was a technological tour de force testbed but too pricey for a Volkswagen, the coupe-like Passat CC saloon was just that – a smarter Passat – and just calling it CC was not an image-changer.

Now it has taken the plunge again with an executive express called Arteon which avoids confusion.

Volkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: VolkswagenVolkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: Volkswagen

Looks and image

This five-door fastback, in luxurious Elegance or more sporty R-Line trims, looks fabulously classy with the styling’s horizontal elements accentuating its width for serious road presence.

Sleek and sporty, with elegant lines and frameless side windows, it certainly passes the ‘will it wow the neighbours’ test with flying colours – especially dark metallic ones.

Volkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: VolkswagenVolkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: Volkswagen

Under the bonnet

The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo engines at launch – 280PS TSI petrol and 150 and 240PS TDI diesel – will be joined by 150PS 1.5 TSI, which cuts to two cylinders on a light throttle to save fuel, and 190PS TSI.

All come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox but a six-speed manual will be offered on the 150PS engines.

The twin-turbo 240PS has stonking acceleration, with 500Nm of torque for potent mid-range performance, but returned 45mpg overall.

Volkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: VolkswagenVolkswagen Arteon is an elegant five-door fastback flagship with prestige aspirations. Pictures: Volkswagen

How it drives

The Arteon is a big, impressive-looking car but the fact it doesn’t feel big speaks volumes for how well it drives.

Ride quality is exceptional, everything you’d expect of a premium model. Dynamic chassis control has eco, normal, comfort, sport and individual modes for tuning the shock absorbers –comfort was a bit soft, sport gave better body control but the ride suffered, but normal was a happy medium.

It’s not sporty but feels well sorted through corners – range-topping petrol and diesel models get standard 4Motion four-wheel drive which puts the power down safely even on wet roads – making it more of a grand tourer.

Space and comfort

Unlike the CC saloon, the Arteon is a five-door fastback in a sector dominated by prestige saloons, coupes and estates.

A long wheelbase creates class-leading rear legroom – basketball players wouldn’t feel the pinch in the back, even with six-footers up front – but that sloping roofline means rear headroom is tight.

A huge 563-litre hatchback boot which goes back a long way means no problems carrying luggage either. Fold the 60/40 split rear seat backs flush with the boot floor and it expands to 1,557 litres and a wide, tall opening makes loading straightforward.

At the wheel

The fascia is tastefully elegant with an ambient lighting strip extending along the doors and an analogue clock is a classy touch.

The standard 12.3in active info display allows the speedo and rev counter to be made smaller and the display dominated by the satellite-navigation map. My test car also came with the optional upgraded navigation with 9.2in colour touchscreen and gesture control – scrolling through the infotainment options is easy but you look as though conducting an orchestra!

All-round visibility in good but there’s no rear wiper to spoil the svelte lines.

Final say

Volkswagen has finally come up with something that is different and good enough to mix it with premium models, a classy fastback executive express alternative.

Badge snobs may dismiss the Arteon for its VW badge but that’s their loss. And coming in under £40,000, so avoiding a £310 annual car tax surcharge for five years, boosts the Arteon’s appeal.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Volkswagen Arteon Elegance 2.0 BiTDI 4Motion £39,170 (range from £32,905)

Engine: 1,984cc, 240PS, twin turbo diesel mated to seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 6.5 seconds; top speed 152mph

MPG: Urban 39.8; extra urban 55.4; combined 47.9

CO2 emissions: 152g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 32pc

Insurance group: 32E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,862mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,127mm; H 1,450mm

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