There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the Volkswagen Arteon, because even Volkswagen is calling it a niche car.
No one at the launch event was prepared to tell us how many they expect to sell per annum, either, so it could be as little as a few hundred or as high as 1000 – your guess is as good as ours.
Mind, that’s not to say the 2022 Arteon isn’t worth a good hard look, because this oddly-named car certainly presents an exceptional package, offering affordable luxury in a beautifully styled body, regardless of whether you choose the five-door liftback with front-wheel drive or the swoopy Arteon Shooting Brake (wagon) with AWD.
The nameplate itself comes from the Latin word for art (Artem), and if you believe all the marketing hype, the Arteon is all about design and styling. No question it’s got presence and elegance in equal measure and that’s just the new entry-level 140TSI Elegance we got to sample.
There’s also the more powerful and swankier 206TSI R-Line for those that want to make more of statement with their Arteon, with Shooting Brake versions of both, if budget constraints aren’t an issue.
The Arteon is built on Volkswagen’s MQB platform and is related to the Volkswagen Passat (and Skoda Superb), but the Arteon is longer, lower, wider and noticeably more eye catching. It’s also a direct successor to Volkswagen’s sleek CC, though the Arteon is positioned as a more premium offering.
It’s not cheap, however, demanding a significant premium over its Passat cousins. At the top echelon, the Arteon comes dangerously close to the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLA, all of which have more cachet, but not nearly as well equipped as the range-topping VW.
In addition to style and comfort, the Arteon is also the space king, offering huge luggage capacity with easy access and limo-like legroom throughout. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a box this car doesn’t tick.
Six months ago, we published pricing and specs that saw the new base grade Arteon dip under 60 grand before on roads, but due to a whole range of factors, pricing is up around $2000 on each version.
2022 Volkswagen Arteon pricing:
- Arteon 140TSI Elegance liftback FWD: $61,740 (new)
- Arteon 140TSI Elegance Shooting Brake FWD: $63,740 (new)
- Arteon 206TSI R-Line AWD : $68,740
- Arteon 206TSI R-Line Shooting Brake AWD: $70,740
All prices exclude on-road costs
By way of comparison, the equivalent Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business costs $47,690, while the Passat 162TSI Elegance starts from $52,890. Moreover, the Passat Wagon 206TSI R-Line costs $64,890 excluding on-road costs.
Luxury rivals like the Audi A5 40 TFSI S Line Sportback, BMW 420i Gran Coupe, and Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic are priced from $73,500, $75,900, and $71,600 respectively before on-roads.
Never mind your budget only allows for the entry-level 140TSI Liftback, because in any guise, the Arteon is a luxuriously specified vehicle regardless of variant.
Arteon 140TSI Elegance highlights:
- IQ.LIGHT Matrix LED headlights
- Keyless entry and start
- LED tail lights with dynamic indicators
- 19-inch ‘Chennai’ alloy wheels with full-size alloy spare
- Adaptive Chassis Control (active dampers)
- Easy open & close electric tailgate
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Heated power-folding mirrors with surround lighting and memory
- Digital Cockpit Pro 10.25-inch (digital cluster)
- 9.2-inch navigation system with gesture and voice control
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- DAB+ & AM/FM radio (liftback) OR DAB+ & FM with no AM (wagon)
- Comfort Sport front seats with Nappa leather-appointed trim
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- 12-way electric front seats with driver massage, easy entry and memory
- Three-zone climate control with Air Care and Allergen filter
- 360-degree camera system
- Harman Kardon premium sound system 10+1 speakers, 700W total power output
- Ambient interior lighting with 30 selectable colours
- Head-up display projected on a glass piece
- Auto headlights and wipers
- One-touch up-down windows front and rear with remote open and close
- Metallic, Pearl Effect or Premium Metallic paint finish
- Rear privacy glass
Arteon 206TSI R-Line adds:
- 4MOTION All-wheel drive
- 20-inch ‘Nashville’ alloy wheels with matching full-size spare
- Sports seats with integrated headrests
- R-Line Carbon Nappa leather appointed trim
- 14-way electric front seats with driver massage, easy entry and memory function
- Heated front seats (No seat ventilation)
- R-Line exterior styling package
- R-Line scuff plates, black roofliner, R-Line sports steering wheel
- Remote central locking with SAFELOCK deadlock mechanism
- Body-coloured exterior mirror caps
- Carpet mats with decorative stitching
Optional on both grades is a $2000 panoramic glass sunroof.
The following paint colours are no-cost:
- Kings Red Metallic
- Pyrite Silver Metallic
- Manganese Grey Metallic
- Deep Black Pearl Effect
- Kingfisher Blue Metallic (only Elegance)
- Lapiz Blue Metallic (only R-Line)
While Oryx White Pearlescent costs $800.
The Arteon has a five-star ANCAP rating based on testing carried out in 2017 on the pre-facelift model
It scored 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 85 per cent for child occupant protection, 85 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 74 per cent for safety assist.
Both trims in the 2022 Arteon range are fitted with Volkswagen’s branded ‘IQ.DRIVE’ active safety suite, comprising:
Travel Assist with Adaptive Lane Guidance (steering between road lines)
- Front Assist with Pedestrian Monitoring (AEB)
- Lane Assist
- Emergency Assist
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Side Assist (active blind-spot monitoring)
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Park Assist
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Driver Fatigue Detection
- 360-degree Proactive Occupant Protection
The Arteon 206TSI adds an alarm with SAFELOCK deadlocking.
You’d be hard pressed to pick the Arteon 140TSI as an entry-level offering given the extensive range of kit and top-shelf materials used in the cabin.
Those 12-way Comfort Sport seats are exceptional for their high level of cushioning and super-soft Nappa leather. Long stints behind the wheel would be welcomed rather than shunned. Not only that, most of the plastics are soft-touch, but even the hard stuff feels premium.
The driving position is good, too. Sporty but not too low as to make it a chore for less agile folk to enter and exit. The brightwork uses two styles of real metal accents for a premium effect and the dreaded piano black is pared back to the bare minimum.
In keeping with its clean lines outside, Arteon takes a minimalistic approach to switchgear, eliminating most ‘hard’ buttons with touch capacitive controls including on the steering wheel and climate control.
It’s mostly intuitive, and I’m a big fan of the air-con panel where you can simply press on the blue light for instant ‘LOW’ temp, and the same for max heat on the opposite side. Press and hold your finger in the centre and the system gives you a comfortable 22 degrees instantly.
And, while there’s a perfectly intuitive touch control for volume, it’s the one thing I’d like duplicated with a physical dial. It just means you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to adjust the sound.
Overall, it’s very Volkswagen Passat up front with the dashboard with an excellent all-digital (and configurable) driver’s display, and a crisp and clear infotainment screen that we’ve seen before in most other Volkswagens.
While it’s hard to find genuine fault inside the Arteon, it doesn’t go as far as to threaten the likes of BMW and Audi which look and feel more luxurious, at least as far as ambience goes.
Wireless Apple CarPlay is instant and is up on the screen before you fasten your seatbelt, while the Harman Kardon audio hits all the right highs and lows with a natural sound, even at volume.
There’s also stacks of storage space for phones, wallets and keys, along with two USB-C ports and a rather useless (these days) 12-Volt socket.
Where the Arteon (like the Passat) really hits the ball out of the park compared with rival makes and models, is passenger space and luggage capacity.
Everywhere you look there’s cavernous space available. Up front, occupants get a tonne of elbow room and stacks of legroom, thanks in part to its 4866mm length and 1871mm width.
It’s properly limo-esque in this regard, but nowhere more so than in the second row, where I found myself looking back behind my seat at the traffic lights in awe of legroom back there. Rear seat passengers also get their own climate control touchscreen and USB-C port, but only one, along with a fairly useless (these days) 12-Volt socket.
The liftback opens fast, revealing 563L of luggage space along with a wide aperture for loading larger gear like MTBs and wider-than-usual surfboards.
For nearly three-times that space, the rear seats fold almost flat – turning your Arteon into a wagon by default. Only thing is, we didn’t locate any form of remote folding lever from the boot.
The base Arteon 140TSI gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol producing 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic driving the front wheels. Expect a 0-100km/h time just under 7.9 seconds, or 8.0 seconds for the equivalent Shooting Brake version.
The more powerful 206TSI’s uprated 2.0-litre turbo tuned to develop a beefier 206kW and 400Nm, and also uses a seven-speed DSG to send the drive to all four wheels using Volkswagen’s 4Motion system. With its substantial gain in grunt, it slashes the 0-100km/h time to about 5.5 seconds for the liftback and 5.6sec for the Shooting Brake.
Importantly, all versions of the Volkswagen Arteon are fitted with a Petrol Particulate Filter (PPF), though the 140TSI uses 95 RON fuel, while the 206TSI R-Line uses 98 RON for best performance.
Our Arteon 140TSI liftback is the more economical of the two models, claiming fuel consumption of 6.2L/100km on the combined cycle, whereas the 206TSI R-Line uses 7.7L/100km.
However, while Volkswagen is set to launch fully-fledged ‘R’ versions of its Golf, T-Roc and Tiguan in 2022, there are no plans to bring the heavy-hitting 235kW Arteon R to Australia, given the model’s niche standing in Australia. Pity, because along with the sizeable bump in power, it also gets 420Nm and is able to dash from standstill to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
That also goes for the plug-in hybrid version sold in Europe, which comes down to demand on the home continent where demand for low emissions vehicles is considerably higher than it is in Australia.
Given the lucky-dip draw of who got to drive which Arteon variant, I can’t say I was all that thrilled to be handed the keys to the base 140TSI Liftback.
But perceptions are so often ill-founded, which I soon discovered after only a few days living with it. The engine is silky-smooth for a four-pot turbo, as is the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission much to my surprise.
With peak torque coming on song from just 1500rpm and pulling all the way to 4100rpm, you’re never short of pace across a wide rev range. It’s a solid, if not fun performer in this regard, without being scintillating.
Lag, too, is mostly kept at bay, especially in the Sport setting, but I found I would often use the paddle-shifters for a little more engagement.
Although it’s front-wheel drive, there’s very little torque-steer to upset things, even when you’re brutal with the throttle in the wet.
Having more power never really crept into my mind, at least during the shortened three-day test period. It’s got more than enough to satisfy with its free-revving engine and it’s a superb high-speed cruiser on the motorway.
The steering is a electro-mechanical setup, speed sensitive, and provides decent levels of feedback.
And, despite its sizeable dimensions, it doesn’t mind stringing a few nice bends together. There’s a bit of body roll on turn-in but it’s otherwise well composed under moderate lateral loads.
That said, where the Arteon really starts to shine is in the ride department. There are few cars even costing twice this amount that provide the kind of all-cushioning ride comfort as this car delivers.
It doesn’t matter about course-chip surfaces or broken roads and potholes – all of it is absorbed by the adaptive chassis control, especially if left in the Comfort setting.
But, even in the firmer Sport mode, there’s sufficient compliance remaining to deal with the likes of speed bumps and damaged surfaces. It’s very reassuring, and that’s just the front-wheel drive version.
Like all Volkswagens, the Arteon comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, capped-price servicing due every calendar year or 15,000km, and with the option of pre-purchasing three and five-year service plans.
Arteon buyers who choose to pre-purchase a five-year Care Plan get the first scheduled service free.
- Three-year Care Plan: $1600
- Five-year Care Plan: $2500
There’s also the Volkswagen Choice guaranteed future value program.
Some might see the Arteon as a tarted-up Passat, but that’s just not correct.
This is a highly-polished semi-premium car with impeccable design and solid engineering that delivers a luxury-class ride with enthusiastic performance from a smooth-revving four-cylinder turbo.
It’s also packed to the rafters with features you might find in cars costing north of 100 grand, with only a single option available in the panoramic roof.
While we are yet to test the more powerful 206TSI R-Line version or the Shooting Brake, we can’t help think the 140TSI Elegance hits the sweet-spot in the Arteon range.
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