Did you know that the name Arteon is the culmination of the words Art & Eon? Art defines what happens when you allow your designers and engineers the freedom to create an eye-catching sculpture. Eon represents a long period of time, an homage to the timelessness and sophistication of the new Volkswagen Arteon. Cars as art isn’t a foreign concept, but it’s usually the preserve of exotics or classics. That makes the Volkswagen Arteon something different.
First Impressions Count
The Arteon stands as one of the most beautiful modern Volkswagens, even days after it left our review floor. The front of the car immediately grabs your attention, with its daytime running lights that fade into the lines of the large chrome grill. The optional R-Line body kit and wheels provide for an even more aggressive look with unique turbine wheels and sharper styling.
The large hood helps define the overall proportions of the car, while a strong character line that flows nose to tail along the side of the vehicle emphasizes its profile. The designers took their cues from nature, especially the shark, but also references from other Volkswagen group premium cars.
While many other sedan manufacturers have changed focus to the crossover and SUV segment, Volkswagen still sees the sedan market as vital. The premium sedan segment represents the most substantial portion, hence the positioning of the Arteon. In terms of size and available features, the Arteon fits into the C segment: for reference, it’s very close in proportion to the Audi A7, with a wheelbase that’s nearly 3m long. But when talking price, it’s much closer to the Audi A5 or Kia Stinger GT (if you can find one).
Inside, you will find the new tech-packed cabin that has been spreading across the Volkswagen lineup. On the base model, the 8-inch media screen allows for access to radio and media functions, along with app-connect for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The SEL gains enhanced navigation and infotainment with Sirius XM connected services, and the analog gauges are also replaced with the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit. That allows the driver to move the map display from the center console screen to the driver’s screen. In his mode, only the directions are displayed on the center console without the map. Most of the cars infotainment options can be accessed via the Digital Cockpit.
As one would expect, the Arteon offers plenty of Driver Assistance features, including Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Traffic Alert, and standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking. On the SEL, Adaptive Cruise Control is added. The TSI gets Lane Assist, Park Assist, Park Distance Control, Overhead View Camera, and Light Assist as standard. They’re the sort of features you might until recently have only expected to find on a high-end luxury car, yet Volkswagen did not leave anything off the list when it comes to the Arteon.
The amount of effort spent on the interior is very apparent. The seats are supportive yet comfortable, Volkswagen also thought it was necessary to attach an analog clock to the center console.
My chosen 400km route from Johannesburg, through Welkom and finally to Bloemfontien provided an incredible mix of roads, elevation changes, and climates with which to experience the Arteon. The route started in the center of town and quickly transitioned to the highway. As we entered the highway, for a big car, the Arteon promptly got up to speed – even without the typical V6 or larger engines that are often associated with luxury vehicles. The only option underneath the hood is the tried-and-tested Volkswagen 2.0T, which in the Arteon produces 206kW and 350Nm of torque. The current generation of the 2.0T is now able to best nearly all of the VW group V6 engines of the past. It’s available in various forms across the entire Volkswagen Auto Group. For the Arteon, the 2.0T is connected to an 7-speed DSG automatic transmission, and 4Motion is available as an option on every trim level.
The standard DCC adaptive chassis control allows the driver to configure the vehicle’s running gear for Normal, Comfort, Sport, or Individual. Individual mode opens up a more extensive range of settings including Comfort+ to Sport+. With the DCC set to comfort, as It allowed for just the right amount of suspension damping and steering feel. Sport+ mode is a little too harsh for such a big vehicle. However, with Sport+ mode enabled, I couldn’t help feeling like I was driving a GTI, albeit a lot bigger one.
After spending several days behind the wheel exploring the Free State and greater parts of Gauteng, it was more than evident that Arteon is the flagship that Volkswagen needed. The automaker needed to return to the upscale path it blazed many years ago with the Passat: there’s really no reason that they cannot operate in the luxury segment.
While the Arteon lacks the extreme levels of comfort and luxury that Passat delivered, Volkswagen’s intentions are clear. They want to play in the luxury arena with the rest of the family. Honestly, they’ve succeeded: everything in the Arteon works so well together, to provide a truly excellent driving experience that can adapt instantly to any driving style or condition. It’s definitely a vehicle that fits well into any lifestyle