VOLK­SWA­GEN ARTEON

The Arteon takes the Volk­swa­gen pas­sen­ger car range fur­ther up­mar­ket.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - STORY SHREEJIT CHANGAROTH LO­CA­TION HANOVER, GER­MANY

Nthat the Phaeton is no more, there has not been a Volk­swa­gen sa­loon that could take on the role of flag­ship.

Since the end of Phaeton pro­duc­tion, the Pas­sat has been the top model in the VW lineup. The CC was es­sen­tially a re­bod­ied and more stylish Pas­sat, and that model, too, has come to the end of its pro­duc­tion run.

So the task of car­ry­ing the VW flag has been be­stowed on the new Arteon. As far as I know, the name has no mean­ing in any lan­guage, but the “Art” in the first syl­la­ble is meant to be of sig­nif­i­cance. No one can deny that the Arteon has been styled with artis­tic flair. It is un­de­ni­ably at­trac­tive in pro­file and, in my opin­ion, the finest-look­ing coupe with more than two doors.

Although in essence a re­place­ment for the CC, the Arteon’s styling is a huge step above the Pas­sat-de­riv­a­tive. It is also a big­ger car, with a 50mm longer wheel­base built on the ubiq­ui­tous (to the VW Group) MQB plat­form.

Un­like the CC, the Arteon has a fifth door (the tail­gate), which helps with its de­cid­edly coupe-ish styling. Its de­sign iden­tity is fur­ther em­pha­sised by a dra­mat­i­cally ex­pres­sive grille that al­most oc­cu­pies the en­tire width of the car’s front.

Three years ago at the 2015 Geneva Mo­tor Show, Volk­swa­gen pre­sented the Sport Coupe Con­cept GTE, which was trans­formed into the Arteon with re­mark­ably few changes, apart from the slim add-on lip at the lead­ing edge of the bon­net – a de­sign tweak dic­tated by pro­duc­tion re­quire­ments.

It’s a bit of a pity, be­cause the con­cept car’s one-piece bon­net was cleanly in­te­grated. Mass pro­duc­tion, how­ever, is about a lot more than look­ing good. The prod­uct must be easy and eco­nom­i­cal to man­u­fac­ture.

None­the­less, the Arteon has ab­so­lutely noth­ing to be ashamed about. It is a sleek and beau­ti­ful five-door coupe which is dis­tin­guish­able from other cars of sim­i­lar shape.

LED head­lights in­cor­po­rate thin light-strips that ex­tend the grille’s slats, and the clamshell­type bon­net is so low that you won­der how they squeezed the engine in. To my eyes at least,

the Arteon is more at­trac­tive than the Audi A5, BMW 6 Se­ries Gran Coupe and MercedesBenz CLS. And com­pared to its clos­est ri­vals, the Arteon has in­te­rior space that beats them all, par­tic­u­larly for lug­gage and the legs of back­seat pas­sen­gers.

The artis­tic style of the body­work, how­ever, doesn’t quite ex­tend to the cabin.

Yes, the dash­board lay­out and the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment are ex­tremely well-built and smart, but their stark sim­i­lar­ity to the Pas­sat is mildly dis­ap­point­ing.

Not that the Pas­sat’s in­te­rior is any­thing to grouse about, but the Arteon’s cock­pit and cabin should have been more stylis­tic and unique.

Like all VW cars to­day, the er­gonomics is first-class. The Arteon’s in­stru­ments are fully dig­i­tal, while the cen­tral touch­screen and in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem are the lat­est ver­sions.

There is now a ges­ture con­trol fea­ture, which ad­mit­tedly does not work so well with the left hand if you are right-handed. The but­tons and knobs, like those in any VW, work per­fectly fine with­out hav­ing to wave your fingers. A wel­come ad­di­tion is a head-up screen that can dis­play essen­tial driv­ing and nav­i­ga­tion in­for­ma­tion, de­pend­ing on the menu se­lected by the driver.

Volk­swa­gen in­tro­duced the Arteon with two ver­sions of the com­pany’s 2-litre 4-cylin­der. Both are tur­bocharged, but one is a TSI (petrol) and the other a TDI (diesel). Although other engine choices will be made avail­able later, in­clud­ing a 1.5-litre 150hp unit with cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion, I sam­ple only the most pow­er­ful vari­ants of the Arteon.

The TDI is a se­quen­tial bi-turbo diesel mo­tor which has 240hp and is pos­si­bly the most pow­er­ful 2-litre diesel engine any­where. Even more star­tling is its 500Nm of torque, which stays con­stant be­tween 1750 and 2000rpm.

It does zero to 100km/h in 6.5 sec­onds, but that says noth­ing about its re­lent­less and ef­fort­less urge, even when ac­cel­er­at­ing from be­yond 150km/h.

Af­ter the TDI Arteon, the petrol 2-litre TSI doesn’t quite feel as ex­plo­sive, which is not sur­pris­ing since it has just 350Nm of torque (be­tween 1700 and 5600rpm). But the TSI does have a higher rev limit, which is why in a stand­ingstart shoot-out to 100km/h, the petrol-pow­ered Arteon is al­most a sec­ond quicker. Top speed for the TSI ver­sion is an elec­tron­i­cally gov­erned 250km/h, while the TDI ver­sion tops off at 245km/h.

In any case, it would be the TSI Arteon des­tined for Sin­ga­pore. My test car is the top-spec R-Line with VW’s 4Mo­tion four-wheeldrive sys­tem. As in all vari­ants of the Arteon, the trans­mis­sion is the ex­cel­lent 7-speed DSG, which shifts gears seam­lessly, whether up or down the ra­tios. No doubt, the gear­box adds to the car’s sporty char­ac­ter, es­pe­cially when ac­cel­er­at­ing fast, dur­ing which there is barely any drop in thrust dur­ing up­shifts.

Re­fine­ment is an­other key

NO ONE WILL LOOK AT THE ARTEON AND THINK IT’S A PAS­SAT DE­RIV­A­TIVE, ES­PE­CIALLY WITH THAT ALL-NEW GRILLE DE­SIGN.

el­e­ment in the Arteon, which is why Volk­swa­gen re­sisted the temp­ta­tion to tune the ex­haust note for a more ex­tro­vert sound.

Also part of the car’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion is ACC (Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol), which uses imag­ing and radar to con­trol the speed and even over­ride the preset limit. ACC can slow the Arteon down and stop it when the traf­fic comes to a halt, and then move off fol­low­ing the ve­hi­cle in front. The sys­tem also reads speed limit signs and uses past sat-nav data to cruise within the road’s speed limit.

With the R-Line spec­i­fi­ca­tion, the Arteon also gets elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled ad­justable dampers that can be set to Com­fort, Nor­mal or Sport, with the fa­cil­ity to vary in-be­tween the three driv­ing modes us­ing the In­di­vid­ual set­ting via the touch­screen.

Not as easy as it sounds when you are driv­ing and si­mul­ta­ne­ously try­ing to move

the vir­tual slider hor­i­zon­tally along its scale. A knurled wheel or a dial on the cen­tre con­sole would have worked bet­ter.

The Sport mode, in any case, seems to suit the car per­fectly. The ride does get no­tice­ably firmer, but stays com­pli­ant on most road sur­faces. Be­ing a very low and wide car, the Arteon al­ways feels planted to the tar­mac and ex­hibits very lit­tle roll in cor­ner­ing. Good steer­ing feel adds to the car’s con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing dy­namic be­hav­iour. Over­all, the han­dling and com­fort lev­els in the car are above aver­age and in keep­ing with its grand tourer image.

No one will look at the Arteon and think it’s a Pas­sat de­riv­a­tive, es­pe­cially with that all-new grille de­sign. Its five-door coupe styling is far re­moved from the tra­di­tional form of a sa­loon and it is, in fact, even sleeker than the CC. I look for­ward to driv­ing the 1.5-litre en­try-level ver­sion and, per­haps some time later, the Arteon R.

Arteon’s con­toured back­seats pro­vide more than a me­tre of legroom, while the boot has a road-tour­ready vol­ume of 563 litres.

Pas­sat-based cock­pit of the Arteon is less artis­tic than the ex­te­rior.

This new VW grand tourer of­fers aboveav­er­age per­for­mance, han­dling, com­fort and re­fine­ment.

To the re­viewer, the VW Arteon is more at­trac­tive than the Audi A5, BMW 6 Se­ries Gran Coupe and MercedesBenz CLS.

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