Volkswagen’s all-new flagship sedan has finally touched down in Australia. Being a sportier coupe-like take on the Passat (but not quite), indeed succeeding the CC, it does defy the norm of the typically plush flagship. But the Arteon is also being presented as luxurious, albeit with a twist of GTI about it, at least more so than the already capable Passat 206TSI R-Line.
As an object, though, it clearly bests its more sedate cousin by a significant margin. The unique styling is indicative of where Volkswagen’s aesthetic is headed, so too is its inclination toward the more premium echelons of the buying public. This is reflected in its price of $65,490 (excluding on-road costs), placing it clear of the Passat and more akin to a mid-range BMW 3 Series.
That said, because it arrives in a single, highly specified variant (also called the 206TSI R-Line), the Arteon does represent good value in proportion to that of the more established premium marques. In terms of equipment, sleek body style, interior space, build quality, and powertrain, Volkswagen risks the appeal of subsidiary Audi and their A5 Sportback.
In the end, buyers will likely spend a little more time thinking about the two when such amounts of money is on the line, but the trigger may be finally be pulled based on the Audi badge's prestige or the Arteon’s more striking exterior. They’d be saving quite a bit of coin with the VW as well since the least expensive A5 Sportback with a similarly potent engine and quattro all-wheel drive should cost in excess of $80,000.
While the car’s profile might suggest it sacrificing passenger/boot space for svelte shape, clever packaging on the part of Volkswagen’s engineers (and a wheelbase 46mm longer than the Passat’s) result in oodles of rear legroom and a generous 563-litres at the rear just for cargo.
The locally-available Arteon’s bonnet will house - as you might have guessed - a 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged petrol four-cylinder that generates 206kW and 350Nm funnelled through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission before being spread over all four wheels. This power and traction combination allows it to sprint to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds, which is notably minutely slower than the top-spec Passat's claim of 5.5-seconds.
That said, the Arteon’s dynamics are said to be a tad sharper, but ride quality is kept in check by VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system. Elsewhere, the car’s equipment levels are quite impressive, with highlights including an interior with black nappa leather upholstery and R-Line heated sports seats with massage function, a 9.2-inch Discover Pro infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, a head-up display, VW’s Active Info Display digital instrument cluster, and ambient interior lighting.
On the safety front, Volkswagen pretty much throws their entire bag of tricks at the Oz-spec Arteon, equipping it with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot assist, lane keep assist, and parking assist. There’s also adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera, powered tailgate, dynamic indicators, and dynamic cornering lights.
Since most of the goodies are already included, Arteon buyers will only have two empty checkboxes worth optional extras: a glass sunroof costing $2,500 and a Sound and Style Package (also $2,500) that adds a premium 700W Dynaudio Confidence 10-speaker sound system and a set of 20-inch Rosario alloys in Dark Graphite Matte.