Volkswagen Arteon 2,0 TSI R-line 4Motion DSG
Derived from the conservatively sculpted Passat, the sleek Arteon seeks to entice Golf GTI and R buyers as they mature
IMAGINE the scenario: you’re in your late-30s, have a brace of kids and a great job that pays well. Life’s grand … if only your spouse would stop nagging you to grow up and get rid of that “noisy”, “cramped” hot hatch (a GTI, for the sake of this argument). You love Volkswagen and plan to remain loyal to it but a Tiguan is too suburban and a Kombi, well… it’s a Kombi, and tour operators use those. Not cool.
Your alternatives are an Amarok, but you’d prefer not to get into heated arguments with pufferjacketed parents at your kids’ weekend sport meets about what’s the best bakkie; and a Passat, which, you reckon, is driven by pensioners drifting across highway lanes doing 80 km/h and therefore will do zilch for your street cred.
Careless stereotyping aside, there’s credence to this quandary, says Volkswagen SA, and that’s why it has launched the new Arteon into a market not exactly enamoured with the midsize sedan at the moment (and that includes the A4, 3 and C, which have all seen a decline in sales but seemingly still draw in midsize-hatchback owners seeking an upgrade). It’s been rather clever with the range’s composition, too, and the entrylevel Arteon – a 2,0 TDI Elegance at R599 900 – is more expensive than the most expensive Passat (with which it shares its lauded MQB base), a price point it justifies by being lavishly specced. It gets even more luxurious as you
move to the 2,0 TDI R-line (R649 900) and peaks in this 2,0 TSI R-line at a shade under R700 000. For that rather substantial outlay, you get LED headlamps, 19-inch alloys, three-zone climate control, Nappa leather trim, seat heating, plus VW’S full-fat Discover Pro infotainment system equipped with sat-nav and linked to Active Info Display configurable instrumentation.
Of course, if you’re out to net hatchback owners on the hunt for an upgrade, aside from every mod-con as standard, it helps if your midsize sedan is good-looking. Think a budget-friendlier Mercedes-benz CLS and you’re right on the mark when engaging with designer Tobias Suhlmann’s work that fuses elegant lines with intricate surfacing. We love the interplay of the headlamps flowing into the grille strakes (Volkswagen refers to the design as its “premium grille”). It’s a big car – a whisker shorter than five metres – but doesn’t look bulky.
The cabin is a more reserved affair, blending the Passat’s faciawide air-vent inserts with deeply sculpted and sumptuously comfortable R-branded seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel which feels sporty to hold but not bulky, and de rigueur glossy trim that looks good for the first five minutes after driving the Arteon off the showroom floor and then will forever remain impossible to clean.
Some members of the CAR team expressed reservations whether the Arteon’s interior feels special enough to justify a R700k price tag – especially below eye level, where some plastics are firmer than you’d expect – or compete with similarly priced premium rivals from Audi and BMW. However, aside from irksome squeaking on this test vehicle where frameless door glass meets rubber, the cockpit feels well constructed.
It’s also notably spacious. Where the sweptback roofline suggests compromised rear headroom, that’s not the case and most adults should fit comfortably. They’re afforded acres of legroom, too; we measured 780 mm, which isn’t too far off the grand saloons we tested last month. Luggage space is equally impressive and folding the split rear seatback frees up a midsizeSuv-rivalling 1 032 litres of utility room.
To comfort prospective hothatch buyers struggling with
clockwise from top left Optional 20-inch wheels complement the sleek design; electrically adjustable seats are sumptuously comfortable; boot measures a capacious 416 litres; legroom is plentiful and headroom decent.A good-looking Passat with a sporty edge Nicol Louw Right car but wish it had a more charismatic engine Peter Palm Despite the rakish looks, this is a true family car Terence Steenkamp