Volk­swa­gen Arteon 2,0 TSI R-line 4Motion DSG

De­rived from the con­ser­va­tively sculpted Pas­sat, the sleek Arteon seeks to en­tice Golf GTI and R buy­ers as they ma­ture

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

IMAG­INE the sce­nario: you’re in your late-30s, have a brace of kids and a great job that pays well. Life’s grand … if only your spouse would stop nag­ging you to grow up and get rid of that “noisy”, “cramped” hot hatch (a GTI, for the sake of this ar­gu­ment). You love Volk­swa­gen and plan to re­main loyal to it but a Tiguan is too sub­ur­ban and a Kombi, well… it’s a Kombi, and tour op­er­a­tors use those. Not cool.

Your al­ter­na­tives are an Amarok, but you’d pre­fer not to get into heated ar­gu­ments with puffer­jack­eted par­ents at your kids’ week­end sport meets about what’s the best bakkie; and a Pas­sat, which, you reckon, is driven by pen­sion­ers drift­ing across high­way lanes do­ing 80 km/h and there­fore will do zilch for your street cred.

Care­less stereo­typ­ing aside, there’s cre­dence to this quandary, says Volk­swa­gen SA, and that’s why it has launched the new Arteon into a mar­ket not ex­actly en­am­oured with the mid­size sedan at the mo­ment (and that in­cludes the A4, 3 and C, which have all seen a de­cline in sales but seem­ingly still draw in mid­size-hatch­back own­ers seek­ing an up­grade). It’s been rather clever with the range’s com­po­si­tion, too, and the en­trylevel Arteon – a 2,0 TDI El­e­gance at R599 900 – is more ex­pen­sive than the most ex­pen­sive Pas­sat (with which it shares its lauded MQB base), a price point it jus­ti­fies by be­ing lav­ishly specced. It gets even more lux­u­ri­ous as you

move to the 2,0 TDI R-line (R649 900) and peaks in this 2,0 TSI R-line at a shade un­der R700 000. For that rather sub­stan­tial out­lay, you get LED head­lamps, 19-inch al­loys, three-zone cli­mate con­trol, Nappa leather trim, seat heat­ing, plus VW’S full-fat Dis­cover Pro in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem equipped with sat-nav and linked to Ac­tive Info Dis­play con­fig­urable in­stru­men­ta­tion.

Of course, if you’re out to net hatch­back own­ers on the hunt for an up­grade, aside from ev­ery mod-con as stan­dard, it helps if your mid­size sedan is good-look­ing. Think a bud­get-friend­lier Mercedes-benz CLS and you’re right on the mark when en­gag­ing with de­signer To­bias Suhlmann’s work that fuses el­e­gant lines with in­tri­cate sur­fac­ing. We love the in­ter­play of the head­lamps flow­ing into the grille strakes (Volk­swa­gen refers to the design as its “pre­mium grille”). It’s a big car – a whisker shorter than five me­tres – but doesn’t look bulky.

The cabin is a more re­served af­fair, blend­ing the Pas­sat’s fa­ci­aw­ide air-vent in­serts with deeply sculpted and sump­tu­ously com­fort­able R-branded seats, a flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel which feels sporty to hold but not bulky, and de rigueur glossy trim that looks good for the first five min­utes af­ter driv­ing the Arteon off the show­room floor and then will for­ever re­main im­pos­si­ble to clean.

Some mem­bers of the CAR team ex­pressed reser­va­tions whether the Arteon’s in­te­rior feels spe­cial enough to jus­tify a R700k price tag – es­pe­cially be­low eye level, where some plas­tics are firmer than you’d ex­pect – or com­pete with sim­i­larly priced pre­mium ri­vals from Audi and BMW. How­ever, aside from irk­some squeak­ing on this test ve­hi­cle where frame­less door glass meets rub­ber, the cock­pit feels well con­structed.

It’s also no­tably spa­cious. Where the swept­back roofline sug­gests com­pro­mised rear head­room, that’s not the case and most adults should fit com­fort­ably. They’re af­forded acres of legroom, too; we mea­sured 780 mm, which isn’t too far off the grand sa­loons we tested last month. Lug­gage space is equally im­pres­sive and fold­ing the split rear seat­back frees up a mid­sizeSuv-ri­valling 1 032 litres of util­ity room.

To com­fort prospec­tive hothatch buy­ers strug­gling with

clock­wise from top left Op­tional 20-inch wheels com­ple­ment the sleek design; elec­tri­cally ad­justable seats are sump­tu­ously com­fort­able; boot mea­sures a ca­pa­cious 416 litres; legroom is plen­ti­ful and head­room de­cent.A good-look­ing Pas­sat with a sporty edge Ni­col Louw Right car but wish it had a more charis­matic en­gine Peter Palm De­spite the rak­ish looks, this is a true fam­ily car Terence Steenkamp

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