Fun mode dis­en­gagnedd

Ev­ery­thing’s slick and trick on the CC re­place­ment, bar one cru­cial over­sight: it’s not very ex­cit­ing to drive

CAR (UK) - - First Drives - CJ HUB­BARD

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ET’S FACE IT: VW CC was a daft name for a five-door coupe. Pos­si­bly call­ing its re­place­ment the Ar­teon isn’t any more sen­si­ble, but at least peo­ple won’t be ask­ing you how the con­vert­ible roof opens. In­stead, they’ll be too busy sym­pa­this­ing that you couldn’t af­ford to buy a proper pre­mium car to quib­ble over the ap­pro­pri­ate pro­nun­ci­a­tion.

Those of you who are hop­ing the Ar­teon would sparkle as a cut-price al­ter­na­tive to the likes of the BMW 4-se­ries Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sport­back – per­haps pow­ered by that fizzy new 1.5-litre TSI en­gine from the Mk7.5 Golf, for a lit­tle added light­ness of be­ing – are in for a dis­ap­point­ment. When it ar­rives in the UK in Septem­ber there will be just two en­gine choices, a 2.0-litre diesel with 236bhp and a 2.0-litre petrol with 276bhp, both with 4Mo­tion all-wheel drive and DSG as stan­dard. List prices will be up­wards of £38k.

The in­cli­na­tion is to go But it’s not as if you won’t be get­ting value for money. Whichever of the two trim lev­els they’ve gone for – Elegance or more ag­gres­sively vis­aged R-Line – Ar­teon oc­cu­pants will be gen­er­ously looked af­ter. It has the long­est wheel­base in its class and rear legroom ap­proach­ing the Skoda Su­perb’s, al­beit in com­bi­na­tion with a roofline curvy enough to put a crick in taller necks.

If you’re up front you won’t care, though. From the out­side this is the most strik­ing VW in years – from the way the LEDs merge into that egg-slicer grille to the as­ton­ish­ingly sharp creases along the flanks, it’s ev­ery bit the 2015 GTE Sport Coupe con­cept made ac­tual. In­side, the dash­board blends fault­less qual­ity with the sleek moder­nity of VW’s new Dis­cov­ery Pro in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, with its 9.2-inch glass screen and slick user in­ter­face.

Trip­ping over mod­ern to­wards the cut­ting edge, VW has also crammed in its very lat­est safety sys­tems – in­clud­ing GPS-con­trolled head­lights and an Emer­gency As­sist up­grade that will

steer the Ar­teon to a stop at the side of the road should you pass out at the wheel. Oh, and the adap­tive cruise con­trol speeds up and slows down ac­cord­ing to traf­fic signs and nav data, while the au­ton­o­mous lane as­sist is prob­a­bly the smoothest we’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced.

So, for much of the time you can quite lit­er­ally let the Ar­teon pi­lot it­self. And to be hon­est, you might as well. For de­spite GTI-spec Pro­gres­sive Steer­ing and an adap­tive sus­pen­sion sys­tem with an ab­surd amount of ad­just­ment (we counted 43 pos­si­ble set­tings from below Comfort to be­yond Sport), by far the most dis­ap­point­ing thing about the Ar­teon is that it isn’t any­where near as ex­cit­ing to drive as it is to look at.

There’s plenty of per­for­mance – the prefer­able 276bhp TSI shrug­ging off 62mph in 5.6 mel­liflu­ously metal­lic sec­onds wor­thy of such fancy phras­ing – and said sus­pen­sion is im­pres­sively adept at smooth­ing out the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween bumpy sur­faces, op­tional 20-inch rims and your arse. But there’s no bite to the han­dling, and no sense at all that the Ar­teon is ever go­ing to get un­der your skin.

Even down to the curve of the spokes, Ar­teon has the full visual im­pact of VW’s Geneva con­cept of 2015

High­est-spec VW in­te­rior so far has min­i­mum clut­ter, max­i­mum tech, and qual­ity is top notch

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