Volkswagen Arteon review: dynamic to look at but only so-so to drive 2024

There’s not much to criticise about the Volkswagen Arteon if you’re a style-conscious executive with big miles to cover. It has all the style, technology and luxury required to take on premium-badged rivals like the Audi A5 Sportback or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, coupled with low running costs and reasonable company car tax bills.

OK, so it doesn’t provide quite as many thrills behind the wheel as a BMW, and the VW badge doesn’t have the cachet of some rivals, but the high-end cabin is beautifully built and covered in premium materials. Like all its style-led coupe-inspired rivals, the Arteon suffers from limited headroom in the back for taller passengers, but the refined ride and rakish styling still make it a winning choice.

About the Volkswagen Arteon

The flagship model of the VW passenger car range is the Volkswagen Arteon, and it was the latest in a line of large executive models built by the German firm. Following on from the Passat-based CC and the even more opulent Phaeton as a plush saloon car for the masses, the Arteon was first introduced in 2017. However, VW’s executive car range has expanded with the arrival of both the new Passat and the fully-electric ID.7 in early 2024. Given the brand’s push towards electrification and concentration on core, volume-selling models, the future for the Arteon seems uncertain.

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Like the CC that it replaced, the Arteon relies on the Mk8 Passat family car for its running gear, but it gets sporty, eye-catching bodywork that gives it a look in line with the latest breed of coupe hatchbacks, such as the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. These are the Arteon’s main rivals, although it could also be considered an opponent to other compact executive saloons such as the Jaguar XE, Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes C-Class.

Underneath the stylish bodywork, the Arteon is available with either front-wheel drive or 4MOTION four-wheel drive. Six-speed manual models are available, but most Arteons come with VW’s fast-shifting seven-speed DSG twin-clutch auto gearbox. This emphasises the car’s pretensions as an upmarket cruiser.

A minor facelift in 2020 saw the introduction of some exterior styling tweaks and extra on-board tech, while an Arteon Shooting Brake estate was introduced at the same time.

The core TSI turbo petrol engines comprise a 148bhp 1.5-litre unit with a six-speed manual transmission and a 187bhp 2.0-litre powerplant mated to seven-speed automatic DSG gearbox. Company car drivers will be best off with the plug-in 1.4-litre TSI eHybrid. This carries the lowest Benefit-in-Kind rate of the Arteon line-up, and up to 37 miles of pure-electric range. Sitting at the top of the range is the R performance model with 4Motion four-wheel drive and a 316bhp version of the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. VW’s ubiquitous 2.0 TDI diesel comes in 148bhp and 197bhp forms, with all variants offered as seven-speed automatics. If you want 4MOTION four-wheel drive, you’ll need the more powerful unit.

Reflecting the Arteon’s upmarket pretensions, there are just two mainstream trim levels, Elegance and R-Line. Elegance trim is plush, with fully adaptive LED headlights, LED interior lighting, heated leather seats with electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, an 8-inch sat-nav infotainment system, adaptive cruise control for DSG-equipped cars and VW’s 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro set-up.

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On top of that, the R-Line gets a sportier look with 19-inch wheels and additional exterior and interior trim. The entry-level 1.5-litre petrol engine is only available in R Line trim and starts from almost £42,000, with the Elegance trim starting from just over £43,000 with the 2.0-litre petrol engine. The R performance model is approaching £60,000 and, as with the rest of the range, you pay around £1,000 more if you want the Shooting Brake body style.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Arteon is easily one of the most stylish cars to wear a VW badge, and it offers a luxurious feel that matches many of its pricier rivals. There are a range of capable powertrains to suit most needs, too. One key downside is that the driving experience doesn’t live up to this executive car’s dynamic appearance.

The Arteon is classed as an executive car instead of an all-out luxury car. That being said, it certainly has a premium appearance and better overall quality than many of its rivals. To put this into context, the Arteon is better compared to a Mercedes C-Class rather than an S-Class.

We reckon the plug-in eHybrid should get up to 30 miles of electric range in the real world, and regular charging should see diesel-rivalling fuel economy. Speaking of diesels, these engines still make sense for high-mileage users. We ran a 148bhp version on our long-term fleet, and it consistently returned over 40mpg.

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