Latest report: Volkswagen Arteon long-term test
18 October 2018
Author: Rachel Boagey
Volkswagen's flagship saloon expects a high fleet uptake, but is it worthy?
|Alloy wheels, LED self-levelling headlights with separate LED running lights; headlight washer system, dynamic light assist, LED tinted rear light clusters with dynamic indicator|
|Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system with voice-activated control system. 9.2in colour touchscreen control system for navigation, DVD, CD and radio functions. Preloaded European navigation data, 3D map view, three calculated routes (Fast, Short, Eco), speed limit display, gesture control, USB port in front storage compartment (£895)|
|Keyless entry - with electrically operated opening and closing function, operated via foot movement under rear tailgate or from driver's door. Time delayed push button electrically closing tailgate (£900)|
|Turmeric Yellow metallic (£595) with 'Nappa' leather upholstery|
Update 4: Executive appeal
Volkswagen expects the UK sales for the Arteon to be split 60% fleet and only 40% retail. With such a big fleet focus, it's a given that the car must be competitive when it comes to running costs.
The 2.0-litre TSI 190hp DSG seems an interesting choice for large saloons that have previously only been able to survive in fleet with diesel engines, of course, change is afoot and with CO2 emissions of 135g/km placing it in the 28% BIK band, our Arteon performs well against others in its class. Interestingly, a similarly powerful 2.0-litre diesel is quoted at 65.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 131g/km.
However, these decent running costs probably aren't the same in Sport mode, which I must admit I'm fond of to make the drive more dynamic. At medium speeds, the car turns quickly enough into corners and the chassis imparts confidence, but you soon learn the Arteon is a car built for long-distance comfort, not rewarding driving.
At a P11D price of £33,545, Volkswagen's flagship, which comes with a high level of standard equipment (apart from reversing cameras, which I almost expect on a flagship car now), is a worry for Audi's A5 Sportback, priced nearer the £40k mark in an equivalent trim. But rivals such as Audi and BMW win every time on the driving experience.
During my time with the car, I very happily drive it to and from work events, and mpg quoted by VW at 47.1 isn't too far off the truth - I've been reaching an average of 39.8mpg on a good mix of motorways, country lanes and city driving. I also appreciate the comfort of the Arteon when returning to it after spending time in other test cars. It's easy to see the car's appeal.
Update 3: Navigational errors
There's a very good reason why we opted for the Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system for £895 on our long-term loan of Volkswagen's flagship saloon: it looks seriously impressive. At 9.2in, the glass Pro system is the first thing you notice when you press the start button, lighting up in rich colours and displaying further options when your hand approaches it, due to its gesture-control capabilities.
The graphics are of such high quality that the 3D map view always inspires awe from passengers who often comment; 'German quality', whenever they jump in.
For all its merits, and the Pro system does look pretty professional, we have come across a few problems with its functionality. Entering a destination isn't always the easiest. It's not very good at points of interests; for example, typing in 'Luton Vauxhall' probably wasn't somewhere it wanted me to go, but it wasn't up to the Volkswagen. It instead likes to have the exact postcode entered and even then has been known to produce the 'circle of death', notifying me that it's loading for a good few minutes before registering the address in the sat-nav.
Another bug bear is that when you have found your destination, three calculated routes appear on the side of the map, allowing you to pick if you want to go for the eco route, the fast route or the short route. If you start driving hoping it will choose for you - like a Kia, for instance - it won't. It instead insists you choose one, and you can barely see on the map which colour route is the one you want. It also has a job recalculating if you miss a turning too, constantly telling you to go back and turn around to come back the way you were supposed to. I find this annoying, as I've tested it many times now and often know the route I've taken can lead me back on track without having to turn around. German quality? Sure thing, but if only the Arteon's efficiency was spot on.
Update 2: The premium package
Although everyone assumes the Arteon is a direct replacement for the Passat CC of 2012, that story is soon contradicted by a base price almost £10,000 more than its sedan brother.
The inclusion of almost entirely digital instruments is just one string to the Arteon's premium bow, but does this and its other premium touches make it worth the extra dosh?
The trim of our long-termer is the top-spec Elegance and the 9.2in touchscreen console with the Discover Navigation system costs £895 on top of the standard infotainment kit.
I'm surprised to be writing this but one of my favourite gadgets in the car at the moment (when I remember to use it) is the gesture control, which comes as standard in all trims. I've tried it in other cars and its function has either been completely pointless or just hasn't worked at all.
At least VW has got it right. It works flawlessly every time and it's actually proving really handy while driving (not to mention stopping the inevitable dirty fingerprints all over the screen). It can be used to switch between pages on the home menu or to change radio station or change song if you have your Apple CarPlay or Android Auto Spotify set up. The most impressive thing when you get the hang of it is that you don't have to look at the screen in detail while you're driving - just a simple wave of your left arm and a lovely whoosh sound tells you it's working.
Due to the gesture-control function, the infotainment system detects when your hand is approaching the screen, and menus also pop up from the bottom. It's odd as it's almost like the system is trying to second-guess what you're going to do, but when your hand lowers and the menus disappear, it leaves a nice, clean and sophisticated looking screen while you drive.
The high-tech infotainment system is part of a smart and sophisticated cabin setting with a luxurious ambiance, and is just one slice of the fancy cake that we're excited to try in the months to follow.
Update 1: A welcome ray of sunshine
"That car is a bit bold isn't it?" joked one of my colleagues as I pulled up in our company car park in my new long-termer. Bold is the right word for Volkswagen's Arteon actually, but little do my colleagues know that bold doesn't just refer to its £595 Turmeric yellow paint job as they might have thought, although I fully believe it's worth the money.
Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2017, the Arteon is built on the same VW Group MQB platform as the Passat - which means it's also a relation of a host of models from Audi, Skoda and SEAT, not to mention VW. Like the outgoing CC, the Arteon is a Passat-based flagship with coupe pretensions, and is designed to rival the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback, so it has a tough competition on its hands, then.
But unlike the CC that went before it, the Arteon boasts truly head-turning style, dramatic lines and elegant detailing, as well as low running costs and ample technology, and, if anything, is turning up the competition heat against its other German rivals. The first few weeks of the car's time with us have been spent in a sizzling summer in London - weather so hot that everyone in the city seems to bring out their garage favourites to pose in, and the Arteon fits right in, as turning heads is a walk in the park for this car.
The car only comes in one body style, five-door hatchback, and trim level choices are kept to a minimum too, with just two to pick from, although you can choose between two diesel and two petrol engines with power ranging from 150 to 280hp.
Our test car is the powerful 2.0-litre petrol with 190hp and comes with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, although most engine choices are available with a six-speed manual too. As with many cars in its class, there's a choice between driving modes to suit what you're doing at any given time - Eco, Normal, Comfort and Sport. In Sport mode, it's an agile performer that handles splendidly. Overall though, it's a very quiet machine, and while changing through the gears, the Arteon barely makes a sound. Only when you really rag the engine do you notice it's there.
Being a turbo, it also has plenty of torque given the relatively small capacity, with the maximum produced between 1,500 and 4,180rpm. We'll see over the next few months how it handles the varied driving roads and tests we'll be unleashing it on.
The Elegance trim gets you 18in alloys, LED self-levelling lights and predictive cornering lamps, as well as matt chrome mirrors and detailing. Inside the Elegance boasts nappa leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, three-zone climate control and sat-nav, all the things you would expect for a flagship car.
As for optional equipment on this car, as well as the paint job, VW has fitted a Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system with voice-activated control system that costs £895 and includes a 9.2in colour touchscreen control system for the navigation and radio functions. We have also opted for the keyless entry package for £900, which means the doors can be operated by a foot movement under the rear tailgate or drivers door.
We've already established that the Arteon stands out in the company car park but by releasing a car in this segment, VW has proved it's up for a challenge and we're looking forward to putting the car up for one too.
Volkswagen Arteon Elegance 2.0 TSI 190hp 7spd DSG
As tested £36,195
Official consumption 60.1mpg
Our average consumption 39.8