SAFETY FIRST

Ele­gant VW Ar­teon is so clever it might just save your life

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! -

THIS, folks, is the new VW Ar­teon.

It sits above the Pas­sat in the VW food chain and is, cat­e­gor­i­cally, not a new ver­sion of the Phaeton.

Phaeton was a bril­liant, if slightly too ex­pen­sive car, I has­ten to add.

Sadly, piss-poor sales and bib­li­cal lev­els of de­pre­ci­a­tion means that the P-word is scarcely whis­pered in VW cir­cles now.

So that’s the last time I’ll men­tion Phaeton. Oops, sorry, done it again.

Ar­teon is a coupé-styled saloon. I have to ad­mit, those pil­lar-less doors, chis­elled lines and that swoop­ing roof line make for an ele­gant shape. The long wheelbase and slanted rear win­dow also make for a huge amount of rear legroom and a boot big enough for the largest of lug­gage loads.

In­trigu­ingly, it’s based on the ubiq­ui­tous MQB plat­form, the same as Polo and many oth­ers in the VAG fam­ily. “Plat­form” is a bit mis­lead­ing here be­cause all that word re­ally refers to is the front end of the car or “the clip” as it’s called in race­car cir­cles.

I don’t think I’ve driven any­thing based on MQB that’s not left me im­pressed. Ar­teon is the same, al­though those big al­loy wheels and tyres do test road noise lev­els and the bound­aries of un­sprung weight. That’s the price you pay for those arch-stuff­ing looks, I guess.

Apart from the styling, the sec­ond thing you no­tice about Ar­teon is the tech, par­tic­u­larly the spook­ily clever adap­tive cruise con­trol and the Emer­gency As­sist func­tion.

The adap­tive cruise con­trol (you can set the dis­tance to cars ahead us­ing the steer­ing wheel con­trols) uses both radar and GPS. Not only does it have the abil­ity to read road signs and ad­just speeds ac­cord­ingly, the GPS func­tion works by de­tect­ing tight cor­ners ahead and scrub­bing off speed in ad­vance. It also copes with stop-go mo­tor­way traf­fic all by it­self – a fea­ture that launched in the most re­cent Audi A4.

In my week with this car I couldn’t stop fid­dling with this fa­cil­ity. It is amaz­ing and will op­er­ate at up to 130mph.

Just as mind-bog­gling is Emer­gency As­sist. This sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion sys­tem uses the cruise con­trol, lane de­par­ture, side as­sist and self-park­ing pro­grammes to of­fer a unique ser­vice.

When the car de­tects that you are nod­ding off or worse still, dead or dy­ing, it gets in­volved.

If the car de­tects you’re not mak­ing any steer­ing or pedal in­puts it tries to get your at­ten­tion. Firstly, it’ll make a buzzing noise and flash a warn­ing light on the dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play.

As­sum­ing you still don’t re­spond, it’ll dab the brakes and jolt the safety belt. If you’re still not re­spond­ing, the Ar­teon will then ac­ti­vate the haz­ard warn­ing lights and, us­ing Park As­sist (au­to­mated steer­ing in­puts) and its lane as­sist cam­eras, it’ll pull over all by it­self into the in­side lane (or hard shoul­der) and come to a halt with its haz­ard warn­ing lights on.

How creepy is that?

Prices start at £33,505 and there are two trim lev­els – R-line and El­e­gance. En­gine wise you can pick be­tween a two-litre diesel or a two-litre petrol – a 1.5 petrol en­gine with 150PS will make an ap­pear­ance later. Diesel of­fer­ings are ei­ther 150PS sin­gle-turbo or 240PS bi-turbo (both use AdBlue) and the petrol ver­sion comes in in 190 or 280PS, the lat­ter is stan­dard with a seven-speed DSG gear­box and all-wheel drive.

And if you think it looks slip­pery and aero­dy­namic, you’d be right. That Cd fig­ure of just 0.265 is the proof.

The limo-lev­els of rear leg room will ap­peal to lanky pas­sen­gers, but it wasn’t un­til I put a pair of six-foot­ers in the back that I re­alised the rear head room is not quite as im­pres­sive. De­pends how long your back is and how big your head is, I sup­pose.

It’s dif­fi­cult to line up the Ar­teon’s ob­vi­ous ri­vals. It’s like a longer, more hand­some Pas­sat CC, but I guess the most likely ri­vals are prob­a­bly Audi fam­ily mem­bers such as the A5.

But if you’re not in good health and don’t want to wipe out any in­no­cent by­standers, this could just be the car you’ve been look­ing for.

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