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