Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces. This week, it’s the Volkswagen Arteon R-Line.
This grand tourer sits above the Passat in Volkswagen’s range. It has only been with us since 2017, when it was launched with four engine options: two petrol and two diesel. Two more engines followed at the end of 2017, a 1.5-litre petrol with 150 horsepower and a 2.0-litre diesel with 190 horsepower.
Two trims are offered in the UK: R-Line for a sporty taste (this is the most popular choice in the UK), and Elegance, with a more luxury bent. There’s a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with all of them, and the most powerful engines get four-wheel-drive (4MOTION) while the rest have the front wheels driven. The most powerful Arteon reaches 62mph in 5.6 seconds while the most frugal achieves a claimed 62mpg.
We’ve tested the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine with 272 horsepower and 4MOTION all-wheel-drive, in R-Line spec. Our test car also had the 2020 updated seven-speed dual-clutch box.
The Arteon comes packed with kit as standard because it’s one of VW’s premium cars. You get digital instruments behind the steering wheel and an 8-inch touchscreen. There are 18-inch alloys as standard, LED self-levelling headlights and Nappa leather upholstery. The latest Arteon has VW’s latest generation of adaptive cruise control, too, which recognises speed limits and adapts the car’s speed accordingly, as well as “predictive cruise control” which adjusts the car’s speed on approaching bends, roundabouts and junctions.
Emergency assist has changed too, as the latest system can put on the hazards and move the car into the hard shoulder while braking if it senses the driver has become incapacitated.
You can pay £800 for an aerial-view and rear-view camera, £920 for an electrically operated tailgate via a waggled foot under the bumper, £660 for park assist, £350 for heated rear seats and £1,010 for a “Dynamic Confidence” sound pack consisting of a 16-channel digital amplifier, and 11 speakers plus a subwoofer.
The 272 horsepower version of the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine is the most powerful on offer, taking the car to 62mph in 5.6 seconds. Available torque is 350Nm, and real-world fuel consumption will be around 33mpg.
As you’d expect from a premium VW offering, the car is incredibly refined at high speed, with a quiet, relaxed cabin. It’s a shame that about 80 per cent of sales are to fleet customers because it’s a great car with a massive boot and plenty of space in the back. It would make a very good and practical family car while keeping the driver happy with sharp dynamics and sensitive steering that is beautifully light at low speeds around town.
Let’s be honest: even such svelte coupés as this will struggle to survive going forwards. The sector for saloons and coupes is dying while people misguidedly spend all their money on pointless iterations of the overweight, badly handling SUVs, for reasons that remain unclear other than a nebulous sense of ‘safety” from sitting up high in a large vehicle.
Driving the Arteon reminds you what a crying shame the death of this body shape is. We can only hope it’s not for ever: that people will come to their senses, get bored with being unable to corner at speed without everything sliding around, and return to beautifully appointed estates and saloons/coupés like this.