- Six petrol and diesel engines to choose from
- DSG automatic gearbox available on all models
- Range-topping models feature all-wheel drive
150hp 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel models to powerful 2.0-litre variants with 280hp and 240hp respectively.
The range-topping models feature four-wheel drive as standard for harnessing their substantial power tallies along with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox in both cases.
Is the 240hp Arteon diesel any good?
Using sequential turbocharging – one small turbo for low revs feeding into a large turbo at higher revs – the 240hp diesel certainly doesn’t drag its heels. With a stonking 500Nm of torque available between 1,750-2,500rpm it’s probably a good job VW fitted four-wheel drive as standard.
The benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes 6.5 seconds – helped by the DSG auto, which snaps keenly through upshifts to deliver maximum standing-start acceleration – and top speed is 152mph.
It’s not the most exciting-sounding engine – even with the Sport noise function engaged – but it delivers substantial forward thrust in a smooth and satisfying fashion.
Is the 280hp Arteon a worthy range-topper?
While it produces far less torque than the Arteon’s most powerful diesel, the 280hp TSI petrol’s 350Nm is available over a much wider rev range: 1,700-5,600rpm.
This makes it very flexible – extra urge is available whenever you want it – but also strangely uninvolving to drive. It will just keep piling on the speed, leaving the driver with little to do; the standard DSG and 4Motion combo only exacerbates this sensation.
Still, with 0-62mph taking just 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, it will keep most hot hatches – and the Arteon’s premium German rivals – very much on their toes.
The soundtrack is more engaging here, too, and all told we feel it’s the petrol engine that suits the Arteon’s continent-crushing gran turismo brief the best – even if its thirstier fuel consumption means you’ll have to stop your continental touring more often, and pay more for the privilege as well.
A little engine drone is also audible from the back seat at motorway speeds, though; surprising for a modern petrol car. It’s not a problem, but we’d expect slightly less noise from under the bonnet .
Arteon 2.0 TDI 150 diesel likely to be bestseller
Volkswagen predicts that the entry-level diesel will be the most popular Arteon. While not slow, the engine feels like it’s got it’s work cut out hauling around the Arteon’s hefty frame.
We’d imagine that many drivers who value the Arteon’s relaxed driving style would similarly value a little more power, so they don’t have to work the motor as hard.
Consequently, the 190hp version of the same engine is likely to be a more satisfying choice.
Petrol 190hp 2.0-litre model pleasant to drive
The 190hp petrol’s extra muscle over the 150hp diesel makes a big difference. The engine feels much more responsive and the car lighter.
Though diesel engines normally provide greater muscle at low engine speeds, this petrol is nearly as strong, even barely above idle.
That makes it a very good fit for the Arteon – though company car drivers are likely to be worse off in BIK tax terms with the petrol compared with the 150hp diesel. The gap is likely to be much smaller compared with the 190hp diesel, however.
A driving mode selector provides a choice between Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual driving modes. Each of these behaves as you’d expect, adapting the accelerator response and the gearbox programming and steering weight to suit – as well as the suspension firmness when the optional adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control system is specified.
As usual, the DSG transmission works well under manual control, especially using the paddle-shifters on the back of the steering wheel – though if you do like to drive this way you’ll find the petrols more satisfying than the diesel, as with less torque these seem better able to deal with downshift demands when travelling quickly.
See the Safety section for info about the Arteon’s high-tech Adaptive Cruise Control system.
- Only tested on Dynamic Chassis Control suspension so far
- This offers a vast number of adjustment choices
- Fast and flat in the corners as a result – but not thrilling
The Arteon is available with several suspension setups; choose a four-wheel drive model and you get Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive suspension as standard, which lets you adjust the firmness of the shock absorbers depending on the type of driving you’re doing.
If you want this with a two-wheel drive model, though, you’ll need to pay extra for the privilege. Meanwhile, those who opt for an R-Line model can choose between two DCC versions – the normal version and a second sportier lowered suspension setup.
We first drove the VW Arteon fitted with the DCC system, and on larger, optional wheels.
You might expect this last addition to ruin the ride comfort, but the Arteon has been engineered for 20-inch wheels right from the start, so it copes with them surprisingly well, even on bumpier surfaces. The DCC plays a large role in this, however, as it’s one of the most variable systems we’ve ever come across.
Volkswagen Arteon DCC suspension system
It’s not just that the DCC presents a significant difference between its softest and hardest settings – though it does indeed do this. Rather that instead of simply presenting the usual Comfort, Normal and Sport settings, VW has added degrees of adjustment above and beyond these choices.
Select the Individual driving mode function and you’re presented with a touchscreen slider at the top of the central display, giving you access to no fewer than 43 different intervals of suspension control. Some will argue that this is too much choice – and they’re probably right – but it’s certainly a novelty that enthusiastic buyers will enjoy playing with.
What’s the Volkswagen Arteon like to drive?
The cynical might also suggest this is VW’s way of distracting said buyers from what is otherwise quite a conventional driving experience. While you can select a choice of Normal and Sport steering weights, there is little about the way the Arteon handles that will really draw you into the process of driving it.
The progressive steering system doesn’t help. VW uses the same technology on the Golf GTI and Golf R, and it’s designed to give you light, quick steering at low speeds for agility, and a steadier, weightier feel for stability when going faster. Trouble is, it also ends up slightly numb and inconsistent.
Don’t get us wrong – the Arteon is by no means a bad car to drive. In fact, it covers ground very quickly if you want it to, with limited body roll and plenty of composure. It’s just not very incisive about its direction changes in the manner of, say, a BMW 4 Series – again living up to its gran turismo billing rather than substituting for a sports car.
- Modern but still user-friendly inside
- Discovery Pro multimedia works well
- Comfort and quality very high
Inside the Arteon it’s very much contemporary Volkswagen, turned up to 11.
In the centre of the cockpit sits the latest 8.0-inch Discovery Navigation sat-nav infotainment system. With its responsive touchscreen and highly intuitive operation logic, it doesn’t take long to get used to this at all – even if the much-touted gesture control functionality is rather limited.
Better yet, VW hasn’t forgotten the importance of providing physical buttons for the most important interior controls – including the air-conditioning system.
The optional 9.2-inch Discovery Pro system does get rid of some of the physical controls for the media system, however, making it more distracting to use while driving.
Active Info Display
This is VW’s name for the Virtual Cockpit digital dial cluster, increasingly found throughout the Volkswagen Group’s various range of products.
Sitting where the conventional instruments used to be is a large screen that performs all those normal driving functions – such as telling you your speed and engine revs – plus much more. A secondary map screen for the sat-nav is available here, for example, as well as access to the various active safety systems and even your music choices and sat-nav information.
All of this is controlled via buttons on the steering wheel. It’s an intimidating array of capability at first, but as with the main screen in the centre of the car you soon get used to it. The optional head-up display brings a further source of info for the driver.
Volkswagen Arteon interior quality and driving position
The Arteon’s interior quality is well up to the mark of any rival in this sector, so you won’t feel short-changed in this respect.
- DCC suspension mostly comfortable
- Even on large 19- and 20-inch wheels
- Excellent seats, loads of space in the rear
Find smooth roads and the Arteon is very comfortable to drive with compliant suspension and little noise making itself heard.
Encounter a typical stretch of scarred, pockmarked British tarmac, however, and the car struggles to smother the road’s surface as well as you’d hope – even with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control in its Comfort mode.
It’s not uncomfortable by any means, but it can feel jarring over a series of bumps in quick succession, with noise from rough roads resonating their way up through the cabin more than expected.
Still, with the DCC set towards the Comfort end of its considerable spectrum, on better roads bumps are unlikely to trouble you. This clever adaptive suspension system absorbs nasty surfaces with considerable ease – although we did detect the occasional resonance through the cabin over particularly bad patches of tarmac.
Things are likely to be better with the 18-inch standard wheels of Elegance models, as there’s an additional inch of rubber between you and the road.
Volkswagen Arteon refinement
Refinement is also pretty good in the Arteon.
Unsurprisingly, the TSI petrol is more refined than the TDI diesel, with a touch of drone emanating from the TDI at times. In the TSI, the worst you can expect is a bit of wind noise, and this only at higher motorway speeds.
Volkswagen Arteon seats, comfort and space
This is a spacious car front and rear. Legroom in the back is particularly generous – VW reckons class-leading – and four-up you won’t struggle for elbow- and shoulder-room, either, though taller adults might not have as much headroom as they’d like.
The middle rear seat is best left to children, due to the raised seat base and prominent centre tunnel necessary to accommodate the four-wheel drive system.
It still feels like a more spacious car in the back than the Audi A5 Sportback, however.
Heated and massaging front seats are available, while partial electrical adjustment of the front seats is standard.