THE owner’s manual might take a week or more to read, since it runs to 350 pages – but it’s something worth spending time on because Volkswagen’s Arteon luxury car has more features than a can of Heinz has beans.
It’s a visually stunning car, based on the mid-sized Passat, but with a lower, swoopier roofline, a wide east-west grille, LED headlights and the general look of a grand tourer.
‘The Arteon combines the design elements of a traditional sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback,’ its designer, Klaus Bischoff said.
‘It’s an avant-garde, business class gran turismo that speaks to the heart and the head alike. This is a vehicle that captivates day-in, day-out.”
We can’t argue with that.
Under its big clamshell bonnet is the firecracker 2.0 litre engine from the Golf R with its 206kW/350Nm output which goes to all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG transmission.
The Arteon is VW’s halo car and the good news is it sneaks in just a few shekels below the luxury car tax at $65,490 and it comes in just the one spec: 206TSI R-Line.
There’s also the $2500 Style and Sound Pack comprising a 700 Watt Dynaudio system and 20-inch turbine-style Rosario black alloys which filled the chiselled Citroen-style wheel arches on our car. The sole other option is a glass sunroof, also for $2500.
At 2837 mm the car has a longer wheelbase than most, resulting in more than generous rear legroom and a vast boot.
Press the key fob to open the coupe-style tailgate and there’s 563 litres of cargo space. Knock down the back seats and it expands to an unmatched 1557 litres. It comes with a cargo net, side compartments, hooks for shopping bags and a port to accommodate the long plank you bought from Bunnings. Or skis.
Up front are smart, supportive leather-trimmed and heated R-Line sports seats with 14-stage power adjustment and the driver’s seat also has a massage function.
Back seat passengers get loads of space in all directions and can also enjoy the bum warming feature.
Naturally the Arteon has all the instrumentation and electronic wizardry of the day in its 12.3-inch Active Info Display digital cluster and classy 9.2-inch Discover Pro touchscreen and you can fiddle for weeks setting the adaptive suspension exactly to your liking.
You get the Comfort, Normal and Sport modes, and each can be fine-tuned from the dashboard. It might be worthwhile if you’re going to punt your Arteon around the Nordschleife at warp speed, but life’s too short for such intricacies in suburban Ozland.
The driver can also select a pop-up head-up display, which I tried for a few days but had to crane my neck to see it.
Fire up the car at night and you’ll be treated to a good few seconds of impressive optic cabaret as the LED headlights figure out where to best send their beams.
Inside, there are three choices of discreet ambient lighting strips and if you fear all the lovely bits might lull you to sleep, fear not: this haloed VW will wake you if it figures you’re off to la-la land – or if you become incapacitated for some other reason.
Gongs will sound and the car will jerk if it fails to detect a hand on the steering wheel, and if that doesn’t do the job the Emergency Assist feature will switch on the hazard lights, find a gap in the traffic, slow down and stop the car on the side of the road.
I loved the Area View multi-camera system which, apart from the usual reversing picture also provides a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings.
It’s a pleasant drive too.
It’s happy to run at nanna pace with barely a touch of the accelerator, or it can provide a strong shove in the back with a good prod.
Zero to 100km/h comes up in 5.6 seconds, and bear in mind this car was designed primarily for Europe, where one routinely drives on the main roads at around 160km/h or more, so our 110 limits don’t even raise a sweat. Top speed is governed to 250km/h.
Of the drive modes, I liked Sport best. It gave instant response, a bit of a throatier growl and didn’t mess up the fuel economy too much.
The seven-speed dual-clutch auto posed no problems, the steering was light and accurate, the brakes superb. It corners beautifully too with the confidence and grip of constant all-wheel-drive.
Fuel economy is also remarkable. Our car returned an average 10.2 litres/100km, including a couple of sprints.
Now, if you go back to that fat owner’s manual you’ll find all manner of extra goodies for you discover. Swivelling headlights, classy frameless glass in the doors, reverse park assist, Proactive Occupant Protection System, how to dial in your preferred chassis set-up and scores of other functions and options.
VW makes a big thing of the car being built in Europe.
‘Unlike some SUVs and comparable cars from German prestige brands, the Arteon is made in Europe,’ a spokesman said.
Well, just about all of it. I had a look at the toolkit (a rarity these days) and the larrikin in me noted the wheel spanner came from China.
Verdict: A fine alternative to other premium brands, and one of the most attractive cars on the road. In a word: Wunderbahr.
- Superb lines
- Luxurious accommodation
- Big cargo area
- Strong performance
- Top technology
- Tad pricey