Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Three petrols, two diesels, and a plug-in hybrid
  • R model incoming
  • All-wheel drive available

What engine options are there?

The engine range for the Arteon is large. Like other VWs, there are regular petrols and diesels, as well as a hot R model, and a fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid version. 

Which transmission you can choose depends on your engine. There’s a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic on offer with the petrol and diesels, while the eHybrid has a six-speed auto. Volkswagen expects more customers to opt for the automatics. Both autos are good, quick-shifting, and rarely caught out.

The eHybrid has a B (brake) mode. This uses wasted energy from braking to charge the battery. It takes some getting used to because when you take your foot off the accelerator, the car uses the drag of the electric motor to slow the car more quickly. Like with other plug-ins, sometimes predicting how hard to press the brake is tricky. This can lead to over-zealous braking at low speeds.

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.5 TSI 150hp, 250Nm 8.7secs 138mph
2.0 TSI 190hp, 320Nm 7.7secs 147mph
2.0 TSI (R) 320hp, 420Nm 4.9secs 155mph

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Either of the petrols are good choices. Even the 1.5-litre makes light work of motorways and never really feels down on power in A- and B-road driving.

On paper the 2.0-litre isn’t that much quicker, 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.

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 engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
2.0 TDI (manual) 150hp, 340Nm 9.5secs 138mph
2.0 TDI (automatic) 150hp, 360Nm 9.5secs 137mph
2.0 TDI (automatic) 200hp, 400Nm 7.9secs 147mph
2.0 TDI (automatic + 4wd) 200hp, 400Nm 7.4secs 145mph

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In this market sector, diesel is still very important, so it’s no surprise that VW is offering 2.0-litre diesels with different power outputs. It’s difficult to recommend the more powerful versions when the base model is such a consummate all-rounder.

Plug-in hybrid engine

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.4-litre petrol with battery 218hp, 400Nm 7.8secs 138mph

If you’re looking to potentially save fuel in the most tax-efficient manner, the eHybrid is an interesting way to go. It’s quick on paper with a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds, but that’s assuming you have the battery fully charged.

If you really want to maximise the car’s electric range (WLTP-backed 39 miles) you’ll need to drive more gently. From our testing, a 30-mile range is achievable. 

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.

The plug-in hybrid adds GTE mode. This doesn’t increase power, but it forces the car to use both the battery and petrol engine. This makes GTE the most responsive mode for the eHybrid. The augmented engine noise piped into the car’s interior won’t be for everyone.

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.

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. The steering feels too light. If you want something coupe-shaped and communicative, the BMW 4 Series is the one to choose.