Volkswagen Arteon (2018) International Launch Review
Volkswagen South Africa will introduce the Arteon 5-door first class "fastback" in the second half of 2018. The newcomer exudes class and sophistication, but, like its CC predecessor, is an acquired taste. Should the premium marques be wary? Our British correspondent drove the Arteon in Germany to find out...
The Arteon’s grip level and handling agility are both good enough to make it feel more athletic than the average executive saloon, but it doesn’t inspire much greater excitement than that, and, as such, it’s not a car we’d recommend to the keener driver. In other respects, though, it’s plainly a very refined, sophisticated and surprisingly practical car with a sense of class extending well beyond what many brand-obsessed buyers will be willing to credit. As with so many Volkswagen sedans, it's a charming car that will grow on you – if only you'd let it.
VW Arteon 2.0 TDI 240 4MOTION Elegance
Price R600 000 (tbc)
Engine 4-cyl in line, 1968cc, twin-turbocharged diesel
Power 177 kW at 4 000 rpm
Torque 500 Nm at 1 750-2 500 rpm
Gearbox 7-speed twin-clutch automatic;
Kerbweight 1 753 kg;
Top speed 245 kph
Economy 5.9L/100 km
Rivals: Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
How the new VW Arteon scored five stars for safety
Earlier this week, we reported that the new Volkswagen Arteon had scored a full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash-test, with the safety authority declaring it the “highest-scoring executive vehicle for pedestrian protection to date”.
The new fastback model (likely to launch in South Africa in 2018) “performed well in all areas of assessment”, according to Euro NCAP, which tested the 2,0-litre TDI 110 kW variant in left-hand drive.
So, what’s behind its strong performance in Euro NCAP’s increasingly stringent tests? Well, the overall rating is aggregated from the Arteon’s results in four sub-sections, and it managed high scores in all four.
The newcomer, for instance, achieved a score of 96% for adult occupant protection and 85% for child occupant protection, thanks to the optimised vehicle body structures and an effective safety belt, seat and airbag combination.
The 85% rating in the pedestrian protection category, meanwhile, was achieved largely thanks to the combination of an emergency braking function and what VW calls the “high passive potential for safeguarding unprotected road users”. The model features an “active” bonnet that Euro NCAP reported “operated robustly for a variety of pedestrian statures and over a wide range of speeds”.
Finally, in the safety assist category, the Arteon managed 82%, thanks to standard features such as seatbelt fastening reminders for all seats, cruise control, a front assist area monitoring system (with emergency braking function) and a lane-keeping system.
VW uses blind photographer to shoot its new Arteon
Volkswagen has turned to an avant-garde marketing campaign to introduce an avant-garde car, by using a blind photographer to shoot its new Arteon.
Blind American photographer Pete Eckert was commissioned to create arty images of the fastback sedan, which is due to be launched in South Africa in the second half of next year and is one of the most interesting designs from Volkswagen in recent years. Unveiled at this year's Geneva motor show in March, it is the successor to the Volkswagen CC.
"The new Arteon represents expressive, avant-garde design. Pete Eckert has presented this design in a unique way," says Xavier Chardon, Head of Marketing of the Volkswagen brand.
"The images he has created are genuine works of art and have a very special atmosphere that only he can create. We have found Pete to be an impressive personality and would like to thank him for the fantastic cooperation."
Eckert visualizes the image he wants to create in his mind and uses his senses of sound, touch, and memory to make a photograph. Shooting the new Arteon was his first automotive project. In preparation for the photos, he obtained detailed information on the special features and characteristics of the new car. On the set, he gained sensory impressions of the car by feeling and tapping in order to develop as precise an impression of the new car as possible.
With the aid of an assistant, he then produced his photographs, known as "light paintings". Eckert took the photographs with an analogue camera in complete darkness, using long exposure times and double exposures. This way, he produced dynamic effects by moving different light sources.
Eckert, from California, lost his sight when he was an adult as a result of an illness. His works have been widely published and honoured by a number of awards. One of his motifs appeared on a United Nations postage stamp. He says about himself: "I am a visual person. I just can't see. You don't need eyes to see beauty."
The Arteon replaces the CC and sits above the Passat in Volkswagen's line-up; UK sales start later this year
The new Volkswagen Arteon, the upmarket replacement for the CC, is on sale now, priced from £34,305.
This is a considerable increase over the CC, which was priced from £25,475.
First previewed by the Sport Coupé Concept of 2015, the new five-door fastback slots into the Volkswagen line-up above the eighth-generation Passat, with which it shares its platform, engines, chassis and interior.
The Arteon's current base price is for a car in Elegance trim with the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, but the range's lowest figure is expected to be closer to £30,000 once an entry-level 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI engine is added to the range. The story is much the same for the second trim level, R-Line, which adds sportier features and currently opens from £35,090 with the 2.0 TDI.
Eventually, the Arteon will be sold with a choice of three turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engines and three turbocharged four-cylinder common-rail diesel engines. The two additional petrols will be 187bhp and 276bhp 2.0-litre TSI units, while the forthcoming diesels will be 187bhp and 236bhp variants of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR)-equipped 2.0 TDI.
The 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol, as well as the 148bhp and 187bhp variants of 2.0-litre diesel engines, come with a standard six-speed manual gearbox, while the 187bhp and 276bhp 2.0-litre petrol and 236bhp 2.0-litre diesel engines receive a standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.
The transversely mounted engines send drive to the front wheels in all but the most powerful 2.0 TSI and 2.0 TDI models, which are equipped with the fifth-generation version of Volkswagen’s electrohydraulic 4Motion four-wheel drive system as standard.
Further driveline options, including a petrol-electric hybrid, are planned to be added later on.
The styling of the Arteon is credited to Volkswagen brand design boss, Klaus Bischoff, who describes it as “the start of a new design era”.
Set to challenge the new Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, it retains the highly contemporary lines of the well received Sport Coupé, albeit with detailed changes to its wide, prominent front grille.
Further design elements carried over from the concept include a contoured clamshell-style bonnet, highly detailed air duct designs within the front bumper, heavily flanged wheel arches, a prominent shoulder line along the flanks, distinctive scalloping within the lower section of the doors, a curved roofline, muscular rear hunches, a fastback tailgate, horizontal LED tail-lights and twin trapezoidal tailpipes integrated within the lower section of the rear bumper.
In its most sporting guise, R-Line, the Arteon has high gloss black air intakes at the front, uniquely styled bumpers, chrome embellishments within the lower bodywork, 18in alloys and chromed tailpipes.
At 4862mm in length, 1871mm in width and 1427mm in height, the Arteon is 60mm longer, 16mm wider and 10mm taller than the CC.
Inside, the Arteon has an updated version of the Passat’s dashboard and interior appointments. Included among a number of high-end options is Volkswagen’s high-definition Active Info Display as an alternative to traditional analogue instrument dials, as well as a centrally mounted 9.2in infotainment screen with touch and gesture control.
With a wheelbase of 2841mm – some 131mm longer than the CC and 51mm longer than the existing Passat, Volkswagen claims the Arteon offers class leading rear seat accommodation. Nominal boot space is put at 563 litres, some 33 litres more than the CC, increasing to 1557 litres when the 40/20/40 rear seats are folded away.
Among the new developments brought to the Arteon is a revised version of Volkswagen's Emergency Assist system. As well as being able to bring the car to a stop when it detects the driver is incapacitated, as before, it now enables the car to autonomously change lanes before stopping to avoid a possible collision.
Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess said: "The Arteon is for people who listen to their heart and their brain. In the past it was a choice of either or, but now we are challenging premium makers."
The Arteon will be produced at Volkswagen’s Emden plant in Germany alongside the eighth-generation Passat from June.
Its rivals include the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé.
For fleet drivers looking for a capable motorway cruiser fitted with loads of standard equipment and is stylish to boot, the Arteon would have to be on their list of cars to consider, alongside the 4 Series Gran Coupé and A5 Sportback.
While it has a huge space advantage over its rivals, the only concern is whether the 148bhp 2.0 TDI is the right fit. Yes, it's frugal and refined, but its struggles from standstill just leave you pining for a bit more power. That may push people towards the Arteon's competitors, at least until the 187bhp 2.0 TDI version arrives at the end of this year.
Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG
Where Watford; On sale Now; Price £34,305; Engine 1968cc, turbocharged diesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 251lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerbweight 1895kg; Top speed 137mph; 0-62mph 9.1sec; Fuel economy 62.8mpg; CO2 rating 116g/km; Rivals BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé, Audi A5 Sportback
The Volkswagen Arteon, which is expected to launch in South Africa early in 2018, has already been reworked by German tuner, ABT Sportsline. And, yes, the four-door, Passat-based fastback has been given an obligatory bump in power.
With a V6 engine not yet confirmed, ABT set to work on the Arteon’s turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder engine, fitting an engine control unit that boosts peak power from the stock 206 kW to 247 kW and maximum torque from 350 N.m to 420 N.m.
This added oomph is delivered to all four wheels thanks to the Wolfsburg-based brand’s 4Motion system, via a seven-speed DSG transmission. Unfortunately, ABT has not revealed any performance figures, so we don’t know exactly how much faster the tuned Arteon is than the standard model.
Interestingly, ABT has not changed much in terms of styling. Fitted with the R-Line styling kit, the Arteon has been lowered thanks to a set of sports suspension springs and runs on 19-inch ABT Sport ER-C alloy wheels wrapped in 245/40 R19 tyres. The tuner says 20- and 21-inch alloys will also be available as options.
The new Volkswagen Arteon is due to launch in South Africa in May 2018, with a 2,0-litre TSI four-cylinder model worth 206 kW set to be the most powerful engine available. But now, after the Wolfsburg brand earlier confirmed it was “considering” a six-cylinder unit for its new fastback, a German executive has revealed that a VR6-powered version is in development.
Talking to Car Throttle, the spokesperson for Volkswagen’s mid-size/full-size product line let slip that the German brand had actually already built a prototype Arteon powered by a 300 kW turbocharged 3,0-litre VR6.
“I’m totally convinced that this combination is extremely nice,” Martin Hube told the British website.
“We’ve combined it with the last version of the Haldex [the brand’s all-wheel-drive system], where you can provoke a bit of oversteer. This is a real agile, powerful car,” he added. Hube went on to say that “you can beat all the Porsche Panameras out of your way” on the autobahn.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether VW will actually put this VR6-powered version of the Arteon into production. And, if it does, in which markets it will be offered.