Volkswagen is not known for extravagant design or going off-piste. Cars like the Golf and Polo exude conservative style and thoroughly reliable performance. They are cars you think of as essentially Germanic, without wanting to reinforce stereotypes – writes David Murray.
So when the new Arteon R-line was parked outside the office, I thought someone had made a mistake. Here was a Volkswagen that looked sleek, exciting even – an upmarket fastback that was pitching style over solidity.
It was also in a colour that Volkswagen calls Turmeric Yellow – a bright gold that wouldn’t look out of place at a Hindu wedding. A statement car, then, that is out to turn heads.
The version I tried was the 2.0 TDI 4Motion with seven-speed automatic transmission. This twin-turbo diesel pumps out about 237bhp and is properly fast with a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds and 152mph top speed.
It drives like it means business too. You can hustle along country roads with confidence; the high body rigidity of the car’s construction plus the four-wheel drive helping to achieve noticeable ride comfort and great handling. The Arteon is responsive and has a decent amount of grip, and the diesel produces fine mid-range punch. I could drive this car for weeks without getting bored.
The Arteon is also packed with a host of features – adaptive cruise control, city emergency braking, front assist, speed assist, jam assist, lane assist and driver alert fatigue warning systems. The cruise control uses GPS-based road data to ‘see’ speed limits and can adjust the car’s speed as appropriate. The road recognition system can also predictability adjust the vehicle’s speed prior to bends, roundabouts and junctions.
The cleverness also involves self-levelling LED headlights; stop-start technology; and a high-quality ‘active info’ display, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, easy to use and clear, and it will work with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Arteon is actually 1871mm wide excluding door mirrors but it feels much wider, thanks to a well-designed interior. Indeed, there is class-leading room inside, especially for rear seat passengers, and if you fold the rear seats down, the amount of luggage space is considerable.
All in all, Volkswagen has produced a stylish, yet practical, addition to the marque. It’s a rival to the Audi A5 Sportback, and, if budget is not an issue, I would opt for the more powerful R-Line versions – diesel at £39,995 on-the-road, or petrol at £39,540 – for the full hardcore experience.