The Volkswagen Arteon has just gone on sale in Ireland, priced at €43,295. Volkswagen’s CC replacement, the Arteon slots in just above the Passat, a five-seater fastback that combines plenty of space with sporty driving dynamics and looks.
The new model was first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show two years ago, and represents Volkswagen’s attempt to steal some customers who favour a more premium experience. And there’s no doubt that they’ve put the effort in – the Arteon is very much a new beast rather than a fancier Passat. Sleek and quite good-looking, with a striking front end, its long wheelbase means that it rivals the Skoda Superb for interior space, which is no mean feat. Question marks, however, have already been raised about interior quality, which seems to be at least partly the result of a raid on the Passat and Golf parts bin. Under the boot lid you’ll find an impressive 563L of storage, rising to 1,557L when you fold the back seats flat.
The standard trim level is quite impressive, including 18-inch alloys, sat nav, predictive cruise control, park distance control and rain sensing wipers. Elegance, which VW believes will be the most popular option, adds ambient lighting, nicer wheels, voice control and a handy rear view camera. R-Line rounds out the options, featuring a few cosmetic upgrades such as a sporty steering wheel, scuff plates, dynamic headlights and new exterior badging and bumpers.
It’s also quite safe, thanks to a range of features that includes ‘safety optimised’ head restraints designed to minimise whiplash in the unfortunate event of a rear-end collision, and an occupant protection system that will tighten the seatbelts and close any open windows if it detects a potential accident. No surprise that the Arteon recently scored five stars in the Euro NCAP safety test, with a particularly high rating for pedestrian protection.
Three variants of the 2.0L TDI engine are available from launch – 150hp, 190hp or 240hp, the latter featuring all-wheel drive as standard, with either six or seven speed transmission depending on your choice. Pricing starts at €43,295 for the basic 150hp model, jumping to €50,195 for an extra 40hp and €55,895 for the flagship 240hp version bedecked in R-Line trim.
Volkswagen’s experiments with a higher class of car have been mixed, to say the least – neither the Phaeton or CC could be described as overwhelming successes. Does the Arteon offer enough to convince buyers to shift their loyalties from the premium German brands? It’s a little early to say, though it’s worth noting that you can pick up a mid-range Audi A5 sportback with a 2.0L TDI engine for €47,350. Badge snobbery can often win out with such small margins. Still, if Skoda can benefit greatly from a realisation that the badge on the front isn’t everything, why can’t Volkswagen?