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Volkswagen Arteon 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
8.3
Never judge a car by its name, unless, say, it’s the Ford Probe or the Suzuki Mighty Boy - in which case, go for it. But when it comes to Volkswagen’s Arteon with a name that’s derived from ‘Art’ meaning, well, ‘Art’ and ‘Eon’ meaning ‘the highest class’, don’t be put off because this is new King of Volkswagens.

Never judge a car by its name, unless, say, it’s the Ford Probe or the Suzuki Mighty Boy - in which case, go for it.

But when it comes to Volkswagen’s Arteon with a name that’s derived from ‘Art’ meaning, well, ‘Art’ and ‘Eon’ meaning ‘the highest class’, don’t be put off because this is new King of Volkswagens. 

Yes, the Arteon is a new model and it sits at the top of Volkswagen’s entire car line-up (but keep in mind, an Amarok V6 Ultimate is more expensive!)... so it must be good, right? Is this a car worthy of that crown? The expectations were high. Is this just a pretender to the throne? We found out.

Volkswagen ARTEON 2018: 206 TSI R-LINE
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$49,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?  9/10

The Volkswagen Arteon may look like an Audi A5, and it absolutely uses the same MQB platform, but the dimensions are quite different. At 4862mm end to end the Arteon is 189mm longer than the Audi, 25mm wider at 1871mm and at 1435 high is 64mm taller. It's a pretty big car.

A low, broad bonnet, that super sharp character line joining the front guard to the rear haunches and that fastback roofline cut a sleek almost muscle car profile. The look is made even tougher with the R-Line body kit made up of beefy air-intakes, the side sills and boot lid spoiler. Those 20-inch optional wheels fill the guards to the brim, and give the car great stance.

The Arteon's segmented LED headlights are stunning. The Arteon's segmented LED headlights are stunning.

Somebody once said the headlights and tail-lights are the windows of the soul of a car. No, they didn’t, but I think they determine a certain attitude, and the Arteon’s segmented LED headlights are stunning, so too are the tail-lights and the strip indicators which flow to the side the car is moving.

The Arteon’s cabin is much like the top of the line Passat’s with its long slab-like dash. It’s a refined super modern cockpit with its giant touch screen, ‘virtual’ instruments and a choice of three different ambient lighting colours. The fit and finish is superb and that aluminium trim running through the door and onto the dash looks beautiful. It’s a luxurious place, but not overly so, more Business Class than First.

Pure White is the only non-optional colour for the Arteon, the other hues include Pyrite Silver, Manganese Grey, Turmeric Yellow, Chilli Red, Atlantic Blue and Deep Black.

2018 Volkswagen ARTEON

Explore the 2018 Volkswagen ARTEON range

How practical is the space inside?  8/10

The Arteon’s cabin is spacious up front with good head, leg and shoulder room. Legroom in the back is excellent. I’m 191cm and I can sit behind my driving position with about a 10cm gap between my knees and the seatback. It been a long time since I’ve could say that about a car – and the Arteon’s legroom is verging into limo territory.

That swooping roofline looks amazing but it does reduce headroom in the back row. I could only just slide my hand into the space between my head and the roof-lining – I wouldn’t want it to be any closer than that. I’d advise anybody thinking of optioning the sun roof to make sure they can sit under it first as it’ll surely reduce the ceiling height further.

The roofline is amazing but reduces headroom. The roofline is amazing but reduces headroom.

The Arteon’s boot capacity is 563 litres, that’s more than 100 litres bigger than the A5’s cargo capacity and even more than a BMW 5 Series wagon.

The gesture-control liftback hatch is a massive help if your hands are full, and even a klutz like me can get it to open with a foot-kick first time.

You’ll find five cupholders all up in the Arteon and bottle holders in all doors. There’s a deep centre console storage area under the armrest and a smaller pull out bin under the dash on the driver’s side.   

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?  9/10

Okay, $65,490 seems like a lot to pay for a Volkswagen, but don’t forget the Arteon is the King of Volkswagen cars and the Passat on the next rung down costs up to $59,990. Remember too that while other countries have several variants of Arteon from the base spec to the priciest and fanciest in their ranges, Australia only gets this model in one, grade but it’s the fully decked out one – the 206 TSI R-Line – which is also why it’s costs so much.

Australia only gets one model grade, but it's fully decked out. Australia only gets one model grade, but it's fully decked out.

Standard features include: leather upholstery; a 9.2-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; an eight-speaker stereo; a 12.3-inch virtual instrument display for the speedo, tacho and sat nav; a reversing camera with 360-degree view; a head-up display; auto parking; the two outside back seats in the back are heated and so are the 14-way power adjustable front seats; there’s adaptive LED headlights; kick-open auto tailgate; 19-inch alloy wheels; and some damned impressive advanced safety equipment.

The options list is tiny. This tiny. You can option a sunroof, different 19-inch alloys and a higher-end stereo system with more speakers. For some reason the wheels and stereo are packaged together. Oh, word of warning: if you’re thinking about a sunroof sit in an Arteon with one first – headroom is already tight and the sunroof may make it tighter for you.

So, is the Arteon good value? Yes. The features list is huge, and it and the Audi A5 Sportback are cousins being built on the same platform and using much of the same technology - but the equivalent Audi 2.0 TFSI quattro costs $81,500.

As for the real rivals to the Arteon, there’s the top-of-the-range Kia Stinger GT-Line for $59,990, Infiniti’s Q50 Sport Premium 2.0t is $62,400 and Jaguar’s XE 25t R-Sport costs $66,500. 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?  8/10

A four-cylinder engine is probably not what you’d expect the King of Volkswagens to be packing, but the Arteon 206 TSI R-Line’s 2.0-litre turbo four makes an impressive 206kW and 350Nm. That’s enough grunt to shift this 1.6 tonne sedan from 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds, and that’s quick. Combine this with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed wet clutch DSG and you have a formidably capable driveline – the same one that’s in the Golf R.

I’d like to have seen a V6-powered Arteon in the line-up in the same way the Kia Stinger is available with both four and six-cylinder engines. For a car that’s supposed to sit at the head of the Volkswagen dinner table there should be a variant that offers more shove.

How much fuel does it consume?  8/10

Volkswagen says the Arteon 206 TSI R-Line will use 7.5L/100km of premium unleaded over a combination of highways, country roads and urban streets. Our test route started in Hobart, Tasmania, and headed north along the coast, and while those were great driving roads, it was hardly going to use as much fuel as a city commute which was reflected in the 8.0L/100km average our trip meter recorded. 

It’s a fuel-efficient engine, obviously, but it’ll be good to see what mileage we’ll get after a week of bumper-to-bumper traffic and a weekend fully loaded up with gear.

What's it like to drive?  8/10

The Arteon 206 TSI R-Line is as good as the King of Volkswagen cars should be to drive – it feels beautifully balanced and light, it’s quick off the mark and the traction from the all-wheel drive feels unshakeable. 

As I said earlier, a six-cylinder variant would have been even better - the blow a V6 turbo diesel such as the 180kW/550Nm unit in the Touareg delivers would have made the Arteon a beast. Better yet, why not the 4.2-litre V8 diesel with 250kW/800Nm?

But, that said, the driving experience is still rewarding, with excellent handling and a comfortable ride courtesy of the adaptive chassis control system. It allows you to firm or soften the suspension in increments, which is nice.

I did notice more than expected tyre noise filtering into the cabin, but my drive was on coarse-chip roads. 

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?  9/10

You’ll be hard pressed to find a car in this price bracket with such an impressive armoury of advanced safety equipment as the Arteon 206 TSI R-Line. It doesn’t just have AEB, it has AEB which works from 5km/h to 250km/h. For speeds under that there’s a low speed AEB system called Manoeuvre Braking (forward and reverse), which is especially for car-parks. And the Arteon knows the difference between a pedestrian and another vehicle.

There’s also rear cross-traffic and blind-spot warning. A combination of adaptive cruise control and Lane Assist which will keep you in your lane and a safe distance behind the car in front, although if your hands leave the steering wheel for too long the Arteon will alert you. If you don’t take hold of the wheel most impressive safety feature springs into action: in a situation where you have passed out and your hands have fallen off the wheel the Arteon will brake sharply several times in an attempt to get your attention. If you don’t respond it will check its surrounding for cars and then change lanes all the way across to the emergency lane where it will bring itself to a halt. Amazing.

The Arteon has not yet been given a safety rating by ANCAP, but it did score the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP equivalent.

Oh, and it has a full sized spare alloy wheel – which I reckon is a must-have safety item in Australia.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?  7/10

The Arteon 206 TSI R-Line is covered by Volkswagen’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended annually or every 15,000km and is capped at $433 for the first, $570 for the second, $637 for the third, $740 for the fourth and then back to $433 for the fifth year of ownership.

Pricing Guides

$59,990
Based on 110 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$49,990
Highest Price
$75,850

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
206 TSI R-LINE 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $49,990 – 75,850 2018 Volkswagen ARTEON 2018 206 TSI R-LINE Pricing and Specs
206 TSI R-LINE 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $49,990 – 75,850 2018 Volkswagen ARTEON 2018 206 TSI R-LINE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.3
Price and features9
Design9
Practicality8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership7

“The Arteon deserves its rank as the flagship of Volkswagen cars – it’s luxurious, modern and excellent to drive, but retains Volkswagen's utilitarian feel of being hardy and practical and easy to use. A king for the people. ”

Is the Volkswagen Arteon worthy of being the King of Volkswagen cars? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Pricing Guide

$49,990

Lowest price, based on 101 car listings in the last 6 months

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