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Volkswagen Arteon 2018 review: weekend test

EXPERT RATING
8
How do you attract buyers to sedans in a land where high riding SUVs reign supreme? Drop dead good looks and class leading technology that turns heads is a good start.

How do you attract buyers to sedans in a land where high riding SUVs reign supreme? Drop dead good looks and class leading technology that turns heads is a good start. 

Positioned to sit at the top of Volkswagen tree, the Arteon is a niche model that replaces the Passat CC with the aim of becoming a genuine contender against the likes of Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes. The phrase ‘punching above its weight’ comes to mind.  

As four door coupes go the Arteon R-Line is certainly one of the best looking and represents a big leap forward in styling and size from the Passat and CC. 

In Australia, the Arteon comes in only one grade – the top-shelf 206 TSI R-Line. Priced at $68,890 (includes $3400 for metallic paint, 'Sound Package' and 'Style Package') you will need relatively deep pockets to afford one.  

So, does the Arteon deliver on more than just good looks and a premium price tag? My kids and I had the weekend to find out. 

Saturday

A trip to the indoor sky diving centre for my son (my Christmas present to him) was the day’s highlight along with the usual shopping trips.  

Dressed in 'Chilli Red' the Arteon R-Line gets a gold star for first impressions and comes armed with copious amounts of kerb appeal. The front end presents a sports car like profile with a clam shell hood framed by sharp creases running the length of the car. 

Under the bonnet lip sits the stunningly designed LEDs headlights that seamlessly blend in with the ridiculously wide grille. 

The side profile looks straight out of the Audi A5 and A7 design playbook with a sleek sloping coupe roof line framing the four pillarless doors. If the side profile doesn’t grab you then the striking turbine fan like 20-inch 'Rosario' alloy wheels should - a stand-out design feature. You could do a lot worse than having this car adorn your driveway.

If the side profile of the Arteon doesn’t grab you then the striking turbine fan like 20-inch 'Rosario' alloy wheels should. (image credit: Dan Pugh) If the side profile of the Arteon doesn’t grab you then the striking turbine fan like 20-inch 'Rosario' alloy wheels should. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

We pile into the cabin and quickly settle into the comfy leather seats with R-Line stitching. The dash instantly recognisable as Volkswagen – modern and refined. Design touches such as the aluminium trim and ambient cabin lighting work to give it a premium feel. That said, it’s appears Volkswagen has pinched the dash straight out of the Passat

Space in the rear is limousine like where the kids were treated to a serious amount of space to stretch out in. Sitting behind my driving position (I'm 180cm) there was almost 30cm between my knees and the front seat. The Arteon does not skimp on the storage with rear passengers treated to two cupholders in the centre armrest, and a bottle holder in each door.

Space in the rear is limousine like where the kids were treated to a serious amount of space to stretch out in. (image credit: Dan Pugh) Space in the rear is limousine like where the kids were treated to a serious amount of space to stretch out in. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

Front and rear headroom is ample, with the cleverly arched cabin ceiling and high window line working well together to give a sense of being enveloped within, adding to the premium feel.  

My son sitting up front made good use of the easy to use 8.0-inch touchscreen media system, taking control of the car’s built in sat nav to help us reach our destination. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available for those who’d prefer it. Other features of note include Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, auxiliary input, and eight speakers.

Inside, there is an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with a built in sat nav. (image credit: Dan Pugh) Inside, there is an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with a built in sat nav. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

Our route to the indoor sky diving centre allowed me to test the Arteon on a combination of urban and motorway driving. Driving around urban backstreets the Arteon was comfortable and composed in Normal and Sport modes, easily soaking up the potholes and speed humps. 

I noted some hesitation with the DSG at low speeds as well as noticeable amounts of lag when darting in and out of traffic. 

Motorway driving provided an altogether different experience with ride and handling bordering on sublime. Acceleration at mid and high range speeds was wonderfully smooth, quiet and effortless with the off ramp arriving way too soon for my liking.     

The 12.3-inch digital display screen which can be customised to suit driver preference is excellent providing crystal clear information at a glance. The head up display, which presents key driving information on a retractable glass panel, looks slightly off-centre and doesn’t strike the same quality note as the rest of the cabin. I ended up retracting it, opting instead to rely on the digital speedo in the instrument display.

Sunday

Our schedule today included play dates for the kids and the usual shopping and general errands. But first I took some time to take the Arteon for a drive. 

The Arteons four-cylinder engine is a surprising choice for a car of this size. On paper its 2.0-litre turbo four makes for impressive reading, with outputs of 206kW and 350Nm. Fed through a six-speed DSG automatic and sent to all four wheels compliments of VW's 4Motion All-Wheel-Drive system the Arteon can do 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds. Not just a pretty face.

The 2.0-litre turbo four makes 206kW/350Nm. (image credit: Dan Pugh) The 2.0-litre turbo four makes 206kW/350Nm. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

In Sport mode, the all-wheel drive system combined with the car’s lower and wider stance certainly benefits the car around corners. It manages to be comfortable and responsive, and when pressed is reasonably quick off the mark. There’s definitely a little something there for the driver. 

Despite this, nothing seemed to overcome my sense that a car of this size and pedigree would be better served by a larger engine. What’s more the engine bay under that massive bonnet could easily accommodate it. 

Once back home we packed the Arteon’s enormous 563 litre boot with the kids gear before heading out to see friends. With numerous empty coffee cups and drinks bottles we made good use of the five cup holders on offer throughout the car.

  • The Arteon’s boot is enormous at 563 litres. (image credit: Dan Pugh) The Arteon’s boot is enormous at 563 litres. (image credit: Dan Pugh)
  • With the rear seats down, the boot space grows. (image credit: Dan Pugh) With the rear seats down, the boot space grows. (image credit: Dan Pugh)
  • There was enough boot space for all the kids gear. (image credit: Dan Pugh) There was enough boot space for all the kids gear. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

Safety is where the Arteon shines verging on 10 out of 10 with an extensive list of systems providing a virtual force field around the car. 

One such system, 'Emergency Assist', constantly monitors steering, throttle and brake inputs to help it discern when drivers hands have left the steering wheel for too long. Having detected this inactivity the system springs into action using a combination of audio, visual cues and even brake jolts to alert the driver. 

Failing that, the car will bring itself to an emergency stop, pulling itself over to the left lane or shoulder, signalling to other drivers as it does so. 

The Arteon also has a clever AEB system which works from 5km/h to 250km/h, reversing camera rear cross traffic alert and blind spot warning. Plus the car has front, side and rear sensors which constantly calculate the probability of a collision. The technology behind the Arteon's safety systems is impressive.

Verdict

The Arteon is a luxury grand tourer that excels at first impressions. Its appeal lies in its stunning looks, extraordinary safety tech and cavernous cabin particularly in the rear seat and boot. It marks an impressive first crack into the luxury car category - one worthy of consideration.

Would you consider the Volkswagen Arteon over the likes of an Audi, Jaguar or Mercedes sedan? Let us know in the comments.

Pricing guides

$48,990
Based on 15 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$43,000
Highest Price
$56,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
206 TSI R-Line 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $43,000 – 56,888 2018 Volkswagen ARTEON 2018 206 TSI R-Line Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Dan Pugh
Contributor

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