VW Arteon Elegance: New flagship saloon oozes quality
VW has launched the Elegance as its new range-topping saloon.
Will its sporting drive and impressive tech appeal to those who want to stand out from the crowd?
The Arteon is a premium saloon car designed by Volkswagen to sit above its popular Passat as its new flagship. A comprehensively new vehicle, it offers a sporting drive coupled with an impressive amount of autonomous technology.
With room enough for five people and a 563-litre boot it's practical, too, turning it into a good-looking all-rounder. Arriving in dealerships in September, the Arteon is ideal for those who want to stand out from the crowd.
Looks and image
There's no denying the Arteon is a bit of a looker. With sculpted lines and a large chrome grille, it's a distinctly premium vehicle, while large 20-inch alloy wheels, such as the ones fitted to our test car, increase its presence on the road. It really looks worlds away from the standard Passat - which in itself isn't an ugly car either.
Inside, it's business as usual for a Volkswagen product. It's a solidly made cabin, with plenty of soft-touch materials giving the Arteon an upmarket feel. However, it's hardly exciting, though silver metal finishes do give it a bit of a lift. The large infotainment system is a breeze to use and looks good, though it's the same unit that was premiered on the new Golf recently. Everything feels well made and will certainly stand the test of time.
Space and practicality
One of the Arteon's trump cards is legroom. Up front and at the back, there's an impressive amount of leg space, which makes it an ideal long-distance cruiser. The seats are also comfortable, and there's plenty of storage for loose items in the front, too.
However, that sloping roofline has put headroom somewhat at a premium - and even average-height passengers will find their heads scraping the roof. You can seat three people in the back, though it's likely this will exacerbate the problem.
The Arteon's practicality levels are increased thanks to its accommodating boot. There are 563 litres of seats-up space to play with, and this rises to an impressive 1,557 litres with them folded down. Its square shape makes it ideal for larger items such as suitcases, though a relatively wide boot lip could make loading them a bit trickier than usual.
Behind the wheel
The Arteon behaves in a wholly predictable way. The steering has a decent amount of heft to it (more so when sport mode is selected), though it can feel a touch light at higher speeds. You can't get away from the car's sheer size, though, and this means it can feel a little ungainly - especially on narrow country roads.
The ride certainly errs on the firm side, and this is no doubt a by-product of the large alloy wheels. Our test route took in a fair amount of rutted, potholed roads, and the Arteon dealt with them well on the whole, but felt a touch too stiff at times.
The 2.0-litre diesel fitted to our test car felt flexible enough for daily driving, and has a surprising amount of poke - especially from lower down the rev range. However, the gearbox can feel sluggish at times, and can be quite delayed in dropping a cog under heavy acceleration.
There's an excellent amount of refinement, too, with wind and road noise kept to a minimum. This makes the whole driving experience far more relaxing, and proves that the Arteon would be a good cross-country car.
Value for money
The official UK on the road price is from £34,305. UK customers will get just two trim levels to pick from - Elegance and R-Line - with the latter benefiting from a lower ride height on top of the standard adjustable dampers.
It's a price bracket that puts the car in line with some strong competition - the Audi A5 Sportback for one - and it means that the Arteon has a far harder fight on its hands than the standard Passat. Equipment levels are high, though we're unable to tell what will come as standard and what will be an optional extra.
Who would buy one?
The Volkswagen Arteon would suit the driver who looks at all of the primary options in this segment and fancies something completely different. Yes, the predicted price tag is rather high - but the level of build quality more than lives up to it. However, the lack of interior flair could put some buyers off, as will the lack of a more comprehensive range of engines.