Volkswagen flagship car reintroduced

The new VW Arteon
Image: Supplied

VW has launched its flagship model in a very competitive space in a market that is facing declining sales globally, due to the increasing popularity of SUVs.

It also faces stiff competition from the more entrenched German brands – Audi’s A4/ A5 Sportback, BMW’s 3 series/4 Series Gran Coupe and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. There is also the Italian Alfa Romeo Giulia and the British Jaguar XE.

The Arteon slots in above the Passat and replaces the VW (Passat) CC as a flagship sedan.

I got to drive the 130kW Arteon 2.0TDI 4Motion in the sporty R-Line trim.

Image: Supplied

The exterior is both stylish and striking, with its fastback design and distinctive front grille, with LED daytime running lights that blend in seamlessly, giving it a unique look. This kind of attention to detail gives the Arteon an edge over the more mundane designs of its rivals. This perhaps why I got a lot of stares, compliments and a few questions as to what model this was.

The Arteon sits on a 2.841mm wheelbase, is 1.871mm wide and 1.427mm high, allowing for ample head room and making for a spacious cabin. This is especially true at the back of the car, where I was able to sit comfortably, stretch out my legs and work on my laptop. Not much outside noise intrudes, allowing me to concentrate.

The sloping back is cleverly designed to incorporate a cavernous and easily accessible 563 litre boot – far larger than that of any of its competitors. You could fit your whole wardrobe there and still have enough space for groceries.

The door can be opened by moving your foot under the car, which is helpful when carrying the aforementioned groceries. Well done to VW for this clever design - one of the features that sets the Arteon apart from anything else in this market. The frameless “coupe-like” doors add a sense of occasion.

Image: Supplied

The interior is clean and functional and the build quality has a premium feel to it. The leather and Nappa seats are comfortable and the front seats are fully electrically controlled.

Climate-control air conditioning, for front as well as rear passengers, comes standard in the R-line. A plethora of other creature comforts also come with it, such as the interior ambient light in a choice of warm yellow, cool blue or white. The heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, digital Active Info Display and 9.2 inch Navigation Pro infotainment system add to that premium feel.

As would be expected in a vehicle of this calibre, there is a wide array of safety features: adaptive cruise control, electronic brake distribution, tyre pressure sensors, airbags, fatigue detection and collision warning, with auto braking which slows the car when it senses the vehicle in front of it is too close. On the freeway, I hardly had to apply the brakes, as the car did that itself. It feels a bit strange at first but I got the hang of it soon enough.

The keyless entry and start function are convenient.

Image: Supplied

This 6-speed DSG diesel derivative drinks a claimed 4.6l/100km during urban driving and 7.2l/100km for extra-urban driving. For urban, I was averaging about 5.2l/100km and around 8.0l/100km on extra-urban because of the high traffic volumes on the freeways and idling in slow-moving traffic. I only reached the half-tank mark after covering 536km, with 430km to go before refuelling. In times of rocketing fuel costs this is worth noting.

Verdict

This is a good offering from VW. It ticks most of the right boxes but their greatest challenge will be to convince brand-conscious and brand-loyal South Africans, who tend to opt for the more “trusted” and entrenched German luxury brands, to part with around R650 000 for a VW. I feel if you want to stand out from the crowd, this is the car to buy.

 

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