Volkswagen Arteon

A style statement out to silence badge snobs

TONY OíKANE

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

VOLKSWAGENíS ĎPremium for the Peopleí marketing mantra certainly makes for an ambitious mission statement. Almost as ambitious as the crisp, sleek ambitious as the crisp, sleek and undeniably attractive Arteon that itís attached to.

Priced at $65,490 and offered in a single, highly specified configuration that throws VWís cutting-edge infotainment and safety tech together with the 206kW 2.0-litre turbo and AWD driveline of the Mk7 Golf R, the Arteon definitely exudes a premium aura.

But badge cachet matters when youíre selling a mid-size sedan for luxury money. Is the Arteon good enough to justify a premium price of entry? Is it good enough that youíd overlook a base model 3 Series, C-Class or A4?

Itís certainly got the visual presence to make you forget about entry-grade luxo-sedans.

With sharp bodylines, a broad chrome grille that blends into the headlamp jewellery and clamshell bonnet, the Arteonís snout is imposing and distinctive Ė traits few VWs have boasted before.

Itís a looker, but hopping into the driverís seat puts you within an interior thatís much less adventurous. At least itís comfortable, sizeable and has 45mm more rear-seat legroom than the current Passat sedan.

The tech story continues under the sharply-lined skin. The Arteon rides on electronically adjustable dampers that can be toggled between conventional Normal, Comfort and Sport presets, but also have the ability to be fine-tuned to one of 14 individual settings.

At the softer end of its suspension spectrum, the Arteon irons out poor-quality roads with ease without feeling excessively floaty over longer undulations.

Thereís plenty of suspension travel, yet body control is good.

Bump it up to Sport and the ride becomes more brittle while the steering is heavier and the throttle more sensitive. Yes, it feels sporty, but thatís not exactly in keeping with its grand-tourer nature. The steering lacks feel or feedback, but is hooked up to a grippy and responsive front end that goes where you point it. The variable ratio steering rack is also especially fast just off centre, which adds to the Arteonís alert and agile feel.

The punchy 206kW/350Nm engine and all-wheel drive saw us achieve 0-100km/h in a quicker than claimed 5.4sec: swift for a car this of size. You wonít be sprinting that quickly in a BMW 320i, or even the V6-powered Lexus IS350.

There are few real drawbacks, although weíd appreciate more aural excitement from the exhaust and less road noise. Otherwise, Arteon has got everything you need and little you donít. ttle e.

PLUS & MINUS

Striking styling; high-end infotainment; extensive safety equipment Classy but conservative interior; little aural drama; lack of badge cachet

Conservation zone

Inside, Arteon packs ample technological wow factor to offset the conservative interior design. A 9.2-inch infotainment display is the tech centrepiece, backed up by an all-electronic instrument panel and a head-up display. A 360-degree camera view, gesture control, tri-zone climate control, and heated seats front and rear are among the Arteonís tech and equipment highlights.