VW Arteon is the German carmaker’s latest offering in the medium car segment.
It sold only 79 last month, and 131 for the first 2 months of the year. The low volume halo car is bigger than the CC it replaced, and far more luxurious than any other VW sold here.
Car makers the world over have been cramming more and more into their models at an ever-increasing rate.
Who’d have thought only a few years ago that we would reach the stage where autonomous vehicles would be anything other than a distant hope?
The VW Arteon is as near as damnit to being a self-driving mode of transport as it is possible to be
The long, graceful coupe-style saloon has a low swooping roofline. Pillarless doors evoke the old-world grandeur 50’s Hollywood. It looks glamorous, and far more expensive than it actually is
There are only 2 option packs, one of which replaces the standard 19” Montevideo wheels with 20” Rosario graphite turbine wheels. The other is a glass sunshine roof. Oddly, the wheels package comes with an upgraded audio system.
LED Headlights include DTRLs and indicators integrated into the lines of the grille, which continues lines from the bonnet. It is a subtle design that makes a big statement.
Access to the rear hatch is via the “kick to open” feature, or by pushing the top of the VW badge in. It hinges out allowing you to grip its lower edge. The badge conceals the reversing camera which remains hidden unless required. This keeps the lense clean and free from water.
Arteon looks expensive, and if you squint you can see more than a touch of Audi A5, another brand in the Volkswagen group.
If one word could be used to describe the luscious interior, it would be “calming”.
Its design language continues the VW group’s direction of the last few years and eschews the frantic boy-racer-obsessed cockpits proliferating in recent times. Arteon cocoons passengers as if each is a club-class member. At any moment you expect a dinner-suited gent to appear with a gin and tonic on a silver tray.
It looks and feels neat and spacious while also being cosy and luxurious. Leather, metal and fabric have been used to great effect. A rather regal looking analogue clock stands sentinel over the serene ambience created by careful placement of each of the accruements essential for a day’s motoring.
The centre stack is dominated by the 9.2” gesture control touch screen which gathers functions from the audio system and car settings. An auto-hide menu bar appears when hand movement is detected.
The system includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, as well as SatNav and an extensive vehicle personalization menu. A driver can use voice control for many car functions but it is still far too finicky to be useful. It is much easier to use a button. CarPlay, once used, will never ever be forgotten.
It is the one thing car makers have gotten right, mostly. You can control your messages, phone calls, music, and even maps, merely by speaking. No button required. I’m not too sure I want my phone listening to the dreadful language hurled at it during peak hour.
A head Up Display (HUD), and the “active info display” replace old fashioned driver information systems, and quickly become invaluable.
Speed can be shown on the HUD, and as a digital speedo in the driver’s screen. The driver’s LCD can be shown as several selectable preset views. These include the usual speedo/tacho with fuel and trip metre, but can also show a large Satnav map with other handy information. I can’t understand why all modern dashboards are built this way.
Heated and cooled front seats also have a massage function, and the car will remember settings for each of the two keys provided, and adjust those settings depending on which fob unlocks the doors.
Smart entry and start allows passengers to enter the cabin by touching the door handle, then pressing the start button to get the car moving. It is nice to see the start button on the righthand side of the centre console for a change.
Rear seats have heating, and a surprising amount of legroom. They fold down to allow the cargo area to extend for longer items.
Materials and surfaces look and feel luxurious, and all shut lines show the usual German obsession for accuracy and precision. You can tell each aspect of the cabin has been carefully curated for maximum impact.
- Heated outer rear seats
- Titanium black headliner
- Unique R-Line black carbon Nappa leather upholstery
- 3 colour ambient lighting
- Active Info and HUD
- LED headlights with Dynamic Light Assist
- R-Line ‘C’-Signature air intakes in high-gloss black
- R-Line badging
- Frameless windows
- Dynamic indicators
- Easy open/close liftback
- High-gloss black spoiler
- 7-speed DSG
- 4MOTION all-wheel-drive
- Active Info Display
- Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
- Park Assist
- Adaptive Chassis Control
- Driving Profile Selection
- Power folding door mirrors
- Massage and memory function for the driver
- Discover Pro 9.2″ Infotainment System with Gesture Control
- Keyless access and push button start
- Tinted (65%) rear windows
- Head-up Display
- Area View
- Dynamic Light Assist
- Easy open and close tailgate
- 3 Colour Ambient Interior Lighting
- Dynamic Indicators
- Frameless side windows
- Row 2 heated outer seats
- 19″ Montevideo Alloys
- Unique Active Info Display theme
- Unique style of R-Line seats
- Larger wheelbase for extra interior space
- Coupe design with liftback tailgate
A frisky 2.0L turbo petrol engine with 206kw/350Nm drives all four wheels through a 7 speed DSG auto transmission. 4Motion is used across the VW group. It allows the big GT car to frolic, or be as serious as you like.
Driver mode selection tailors throttle, suspension, and steering to individual tastes. You can use pre-set options, or programme the “individual” mode exactly as you like it. Perhaps you want light steering paired with soft suspension and a lusty throttle, or firmer suspension, but everything else soft and gentle. The choice is yours.
A safety-obsessed design team has allowed the car to watch over occupants like nanny at tea time. If the driver loses consciousness, it will pull to the side of the road and apply the parking. It prevents secondary collisions. It is hard to imagine that level of supervision as being unobtrusive, but unobtrusive it is.
Arteon can drive semi-autonomously in slow traffic too. It will brake, steer, and accelerate, leaving the driver to relax with a massage. Although we are not yet at the stage where the driver could sit back and read the news, we are not far off it. Simply set the active cruise control and let the VW do the rest.
The active cruise control, active lane control, and active traffic monitoring, means the Arteon relieves the driver of much of the stress of a long trip, safely.
The ride is superb, and with a drivetrain from the Golf R, has the performance of a sports car. It can park itself, and can get out of that car park too. It is only a software and legislation update away from being able to drive itself.
5 star and includes both active and passive safety with a list far too long to mention, but here are a few features:
- Emergency Assist including Emergency Lane Change Assist
- Proactive Occupant Protection (Rear Sensing)
- Area View
- Front Assist with City Emergency Braking
- Rear Traffic Alert
- Side Assist
- Lane Assist
- Elegant design
- Luxurious cabin
- Extensive active and passive tech
Not So Good Bits
- No manual
- Low roofline of rear door opening
- No diesel
VW Arteon is stunning to look at, and a joy to drive. It got a lot of looks which surprised me given the understated design.
It does everything except make a hot cuppa, which is both comforting and frightening. Most drivers won’t ever be aware of what the car is doing for them. Perhaps that is the genius of it. Like the car itself, the cutting-edge wizardry does its job even if the driver doesn’t.
I could imagine doing a very long drive just for the sake of it. I’d get out at the other end refreshed too. Of course, you could pack a boot for of kit, and road-trip yourself into a frenzy, but a gingham cloth and picnic basket would do just as well.
It lends itself to couniting as easily as it does continental crossing, and that is not something you can say about a lot of new cars.
Car makers have been striving for autonomous operation for a very long time, and the leading edge of the wave is passing over us as we speak.
The view from here-on looks pretty rosy.
Here is a video we shot at the launch where I was joined my Richard Berry.
Facts and Figures
Engine: 2.0L turbo petrol, 206kw/350Nm
Transmission: 7speed DSG
Safety: 5 star
Warranty: 3 years unlimited km
Fuel: 98RON, 7.5/100k, 66L tank
Performance: 5.6seconds 0-100k
Options: glass sliding roof $2,500, 20” graphite wheels/Dynamic Audio, $2,500