Arteon Expresses Wolsburg’s Upmarket Ambitions

No, no, no. It’s not a Passat CC says VW. Definitely not. It’s bigger, and more expensive than that was. So much bigger and more expensive – VW admitting to a price starting at about £38,000, yes, you read that right – that it’ll take on cars like BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe and its group relation, the Audi A5 Sportback. So what will see you, and your better half, walking past those BMW and Audi showrooms and leaping into the great Arteon unknown? Looks, perhaps. The Arteon is certainly striking, in a busy kind of way. The R-Line spec here adds to that with some more sporting addenda around the nose, and a little bit less chrome – if you’re after more shiny stuff, then go for Elegance.

There’s a pair of powerful engine choices, both four-cylinder, one 276bhp model drinking petrol and a 236bhp unit stopping at the diesel pump. Both come with a seven-speed DSG automatic and 4Motion four-wheel drive as standard.

It’s brisk regardless of choice, the diesel easier, the petrol sounding better, while dynamically they’re both capable rather than memorable, despite a sliding-scale damper choice that ranges from Comfort through to Sport. You’ll leave it on Comfort, especially if you’ve got the big 20-inch rims needed to fill the wheelarches convincingly.

Otherwise the ride is a bit busy, which might be forgiven if the Arteon delivered up thrills rather than merely competence. It’s fine then, like the interior, which in typical VW fashion is beautifully executed, though still feels a bit upper mainstream than genuinely premium.

There’s plenty of space by way of compensation, the rear seats, despite the rakish rear roofline, giving decent leg and headroom. The ample glass on the frameless doors add to that sense of airiness back there, and the boot is big, too. This is very much a VW in how sensible it is.

There’s lots of new safety kit, which drives VW closer to autonomy, but like even the best of its rivals systems you’ll soon be looking how to turn off all the interference. All of which is a bit of a problem, as looks aside, a spacious cabin doesn’t cut it in a class where there’s some established, tough and genuinely premium metal. Admirable, then, but we’ve been here before, and not with the Passat CC, but the Phaeton, and we all know how that ended.

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