The German brand has decided to go in the opposite direction of almost every other carmaker on the planet with its latest new car.
Volkswagen is pinning its hopes on the Conservatives with the relaunch of its Arteon fastback.
Despite the steadily declining sales of the cars, the manufacturer believes that there is a place in its line-up for the top-end four-door and wagon.
If you enjoy driving—and if your idea of adventure and “active lifestyle” is a weekly game of golf—that’s a good thing.
Volkswagen’s Arteon went missing sometime in 2019, but it’s now back with a cheaper version that sits neatly atop the Passat on the totem pole. Priced at $61,740 plus on-road costs, that’s about $9000 more than the top-line Passat sharing the same engine.
A sportier, more generously equipped and more powerful R-Line model starts at $68,740 and for the first time there is a wagon version for each model that costs another $2000.
The Arteon is not a traditional sedan even though it looks alike from the outside. It’s a liftback design, which means the boot opens up more like a hatchback, giving you wider openings for larger items.
For golfers, this means it will easily swallow your clubs and buggy and you can leave them in the car after a detour, without worrying that your valuables are being displayed to interested thieves.
The cheapest Arteon is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine that makes 140kW and 320Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. It is a comfortable and inclined unit that has enough power to satisfy a driving enthusiast while providing excellent fuel economy on the freeway. Those who want a little more grunt can step up to the R-Line, which churns out an impressive 206kW and 350Nm of all-wheel-drive’s extra grip and traction.
Both the variants come with adaptive suspension, so you can adjust the feel of the car from comfortable to firm and sporty. Aim at a range of corners and Arteon will put a smile on your dial. When pressed, it poses and remains predictable, inspiring confidence, with keen turns and communicative steering.
Cruising around town in comfort mode, it does a decent job of absorbing bumps and bumps, though the auto can be a bit jerky at low speeds.
The cabin features an impressive mix of quality materials, interesting surface finishes and high-tech digital readouts on the dash and in front of the driver. Customizable driver readouts can be configured to display satnav maps, driving information or your album options. There’s also a heads-up display that shows your speed and the prevailing speed limit in these days of covert speed-camera cars.
Creature Comfort includes Nappa leather seats (heated, ventilated and electrically adjustable at the front), Harman Kardon sound system, electric tailgate and ambient lighting with a choice of 30 colours. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make it easy to hook up a smartphone to the center screen, but the lack of a wireless phone charging pad means you’ll still need to bring a USB cord to charge the phone on long trips.
There is a comprehensive package of driver assistance that includes auto emergency braking, lane-keeping, blind-spot alert, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert. The Arteon can also brake, accelerate and steer automatically on the freeway. While some lane-keeping technology is hit and miss—the car will pinball from one side of the lane to the other—the Arteon’s inputs are smooth and precise.
The move up to the R-Line doesn’t come with too many features. It’s more about style and performance, with a bigger engine, all-wheel-drive, 20-inch wheels, sportier-looking seats and exterior styling tweaks.
There are no flat colors in the range, but Volkswagen does not charge for metallic paint. For those who prefer white, there’s a pearl plan that costs an additional $800.
Overall, the Arteon proves that the sedan may no longer be the dominant size on our roads, yet there is a place for the well-appointed, well-executed traditional four-door.
It may not be particularly trendy, but the Arteon is well equipped, beautifully dressed and fun to drive.
2022 Volkswagen Arteon Vitals
Price: About $68,100 drive-away
Ingine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, 140kW/320Nm
Warranty / Servicing: Five Years/Unlimited Km, TBA
the protection: Nine airbags, Auto emergency braking, Lane-keep assist, Blind-spot warning, Driver attention warning, Rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree camera
fuel usage: 6.2 L/100km
Excessive: full size