Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Three petrol and two diesel engines to choose from
  • Passat R and TSI eHybrid to follow in spring 2021
  • Range-topping models feature all-wheel drive

The model range is quite straightforward for the Arteon. There's a 150hp 1.5-litre petrol as well as 190 and 320hp 2.0-litre petrols as well. The diesel comes in two varieties – both 2.0-litres in size, with power outputs of 150 and 200hp.

Due to arrive in the spring of 2021 are the 320hp Arteon R and the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) verson, which packs 220hp and is known as the TSI eHybrid. We've extensive experience of the PHEV as it shares its motor and batteries with the Passat GTE.

Petrol engines detailed

The 150hp 1.5 TSI 150 is adequately powerful and gives the Arteon reasonable performance, with a 0-62mph of 8.9 seconds. We've yet to drive this in facelifted form, but the old model made light work of motorways and never really felt down on power in A- and B-road driving.

The 190hp 2.0 TSI 190 is a much more efforttless all-round performer. On paper it's not that much quicker with a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds, but in reality, it's much easier to drive, delivering lots of punch from low speeds. This is an automatic-only option, which shouldn't upset too many drivers, as Volkswagen's DSG transmission is so pleasant to use in daily driving. It feels a little lazy in the Eco drive mode, and almost too sporty in Sport mode.

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.

The Arteon R will be along shortly, but with 320hp on tap, we expect this to be an excellent all-rounder if high-speed long-distance hauling is your thing.

Diesel and hybrid engines detailed

In this market sector, diesel is still very important, so it's no surprise that the 2.0 TDI 150 is such a consumate all-rounder. It's a stong and refined performer, with lots of mid-range pull if you're someone with something to tow or enjoy effortless motorway cruising. We've yet to try the 200hp TDI 200, but with a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds, the option of 4Motion four-wheel drive, and a potential fuel range well in excess of 600 miles, this looks like a potential long-distance champion.

If you're looking to potentially save fuel in the most tax-efficient manner, the TSI eHybrid looks interesting. It's quick on paper with a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds, but with the battery fully charged should offer some phenomenal benefits for those with short commutes. We've yet to try this one, but the same running gear in the Volkswagen Passat GTE works very well indeed, with quick acceleration and a disappointingly short fuel range.

Driving modes

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.

Handling

  • 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've driven the 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

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, Volkswagen 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.

The Arteon is by no means a bad car to drive, as its handling is excellent in most situations. 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 communicative about its direction changes in the way a BMW 4 Series is – again living up to its gran turismo billing rather than substituting for a sports car.