EL­E­GANCE PER­SON­I­FIED: VW’S NEW FLAG­SHIP SALOON OOZES QUAL­ITY

VW has launched the El­e­gance as its new range-top­ping saloon. Will its sport­ing drive and im­pres­sive tech ap­peal to those who want to stand out from the crowd?

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - JACK EVANS

WHAT’S NEW?

The Arteon is a pre­mium saloon car de­signed by Volk­swa­gen to sit above its pop­u­lar Pas­sat as its new flag­ship. A com­pre­hen­sively new ve­hi­cle, it of­fers a sport­ing drive cou­pled with an im­pres­sive amount of au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy.

With room enough for five peo­ple and a 563-litre boot it’s prac­ti­cal, too, turn­ing it into a good-look­ing all-rounder. Ar­riv­ing in deal­er­ships in Septem­ber, the Arteon is ideal for those who want to stand out from the crowd.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

There’s no deny­ing the Arteon is a bit of a looker. With sculpted lines and a large chrome grille, it’s a dis­tinctly pre­mium ve­hi­cle, while large 20-inch al­loy wheels, such as the ones fit­ted to our test car, in­crease its pres­ence on the road. It re­ally looks worlds away from the stan­dard Pas­sat – which in it­self isn’t an ugly car ei­ther.

In­side, it’s busi­ness as usual for a Volk­swa­gen prod­uct. It’s a solidly made cabin, with plenty of soft-touch ma­te­ri­als giv­ing the Arteon an up­mar­ket feel. How­ever, it’s hardly ex­cit­ing, though sil­ver metal fin­ishes do give it a bit of a lift. The large in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is

a breeze to use and looks good, though it’s the same unit that was pre­miered on the new Golf re­cently. Ev­ery­thing feels well made and will cer­tainly stand the test of time.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

One of the Arteon’s trump cards is legroom. Up front and at the back, there’s an im­pres­sive amount of leg space, which makes it an ideal long-dis­tance cruiser. The seats are also com­fort­able, and there’s plenty of stor­age for loose items in the front, too.

How­ever, that slop­ing roofline has put head­room some­what at a pre­mium – and even av­er­age-height pas­sen­gers will find their heads scrap­ing the roof. You can seat three peo­ple in the back, though it’s likely this will ex­ac­er­bate the prob­lem.

The Arteon’s prac­ti­cal­ity lev­els are in­creased thanks to its ac­com­mo­dat­ing boot. There are 563 litres of seats-up space to play with, and this rises to an im­pres­sive 1,557 litres with them folded down. Its square shape makes it ideal for larger items such as suit­cases, though a rel­a­tively wide boot lip could make load­ing them a bit trick­ier than usual.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

The Arteon be­haves in a wholly pre­dictable way. The steer­ing has a de­cent amount of heft to it (more so when sport mode is selected), though it can feel a touch light at higher speeds. You can’t get away from the car’s sheer size, though,

“There’s no deny­ing the Arteon is a bit of a looker. With sculpted lines and a large chrome grille, it’s a dis­tinctly pre­mium ve­hi­cle.”

and this means it can feel a lit­tle un­gainly – es­pe­cially on nar­row coun­try roads.

The ride cer­tainly errs on the firm side, and this is no doubt a by-prod­uct of the large al­loy wheels. Our test route took in a fair amount of rut­ted, pot­holed roads, and the Arteon dealt with them well on the whole, but felt a touch too stiff at times.

The 2.0-litre diesel fit­ted to our test car felt flex­i­ble enough for daily driv­ing, and has a sur­pris­ing amount of poke – es­pe­cially from lower down the rev range. How­ever, the gear­box can feel slug­gish at times, and can be quite de­layed in drop­ping a cog un­der heavy ac­cel­er­a­tion.

There’s an ex­cel­lent amount of re­fine­ment, too, with wind and road noise kept to a min­i­mum. This makes the whole driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence far more re­lax­ing, and proves that the Arteon would be a good cross-coun­try car.

VALUE FOR MONEY

The of­fi­cial UK on the road price is from £34,305. UK cus­tomers will get just two trim lev­els to pick from – El­e­gance and R-line – with the lat­ter ben­e­fit­ing from a lower ride height on top of the stan­dard ad­justable dampers.

It’s a price bracket that puts the car in line with some strong com­pe­ti­tion – the Audi A5 Sport­back for one – and it means that the Arteon has a far harder fight on its hands than the stan­dard Pas­sat. Equip­ment lev­els are high, though we’re un­able to tell what will come as stan­dard and what will be an op­tional ex­tra.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

The Volk­swa­gen Arteon would suit the driver who looks at all of the pri­mary op­tions in this seg­ment and fan­cies some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Yes, the pre­dicted price tag is rather high – but the level of build qual­ity more than lives up to it. How­ever, the lack of in­te­rior flair could put some buy­ers off, as will the lack of a more com­pre­hen­sive range of en­gines.

“There’s an ex­cel­lent amount of re­fine­ment, too, with wind and road noise kept to a min­i­mum. This makes the whole driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence far more re­lax­ing, and proves that the Arteon would be a good cross-coun­try car.”

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