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Arteon to the rescue?

Arteon to the rescue?

Volkswagen appears to have gone against the grain in introducing the Arteon to a market in which sales of saloon cars are declining. So, will the model revive consumer interest?

 

Volkswagen’s Arteon is a new flagship model from the German brand – an avant-garde Gran Turismo saloon car that combines sporty styling and premium-quality features in a striking, fast back design that’s guaranteed to turn heads.

The vehicle is built on the company’s much-vaunted MQB platform – which also underscores models such as sister brand Audi’s A5 – and offers plenty of interior space, a luxury-class cabin, as well as a high degree of new technology.

Interestingly, Volkswagen appears to have gone against the grain in introducing the model to a market in which sales of conventional saloons are declining in favour of higher-riding SUVs – but the Arteon’s stand out proportions are such that it may well serve to revitalise consumer interest in the luxury sedan sector.

At the front, an imposing grille stretches the full width of the car, with standard specification LED headlights blending into the chrome-plated grille crossbars. The bonnet is long and – in deference to traditional sports cars – is of a clamshell design. When opened it reveals the housings for the front wheels – another nod to sports car traditions.
 

Measuring 4 862mm long, 1 871mm wide and 1 450mm high, the Arteon can carry up to five adults in comfort, thanks in part to a wheelbase that stretches 2 837mm to facilitate plenty of legroom for rear seat passengers. Boot capacity is 563 litres, expanding to 1 557 litres when the back seats are folded down.

Long and low-slung, the Arteon looks aerodynamically efficient. According to Volkswagen spokesmen, its coefficient of drag is rated at 0,265, making it slippery through the air yet able to generate downforce levels sufficient to improve grip to benefit handling dynamics.

 

Engine options range from a four-cylinder, turbocharged 2,0-litre, petrol-fueled plant which produces 206kW, to a similarly styled and force-fed 2,0-litre diesel unit that develops 130kW. The latter engine drives the front wheels through a six-speed, dual clutch auto ’box while the petrol unit is mated to a seven-speed equivalent which transmits power to all of the vehicle’s wheels.

I understand that additional engines are planned for the line-up, including Volkswagen’s newly designed, 1,5-litre petrol-fueled Evo unit which features economy-boosting cylinder deactivation technology.

In my road test of the Arteon I drove the diesel version configured in R-Line trim – the sportier of the two specification levels available in South Africa, the other being the entry-level – but still luxury-orientated – Elegance configuration.

The vehicle proved enticingly comfortable and capable, drawing plenty of admiring glances and even the occasional picture from other motorists. On the highway it cruised easily at the speed limit with hardly a murmur from the powerplant and wind noise well contained.

At high revs and high speeds, however, engine clatter and road noise became apparent in the cabin – indicating, perhaps, that the model is not as refined in its make-up as a derivative such as Audi’s A5 Sportback, ostensibly one of its main rivals along with BMW’s 4-Series Gran Coupe; Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class and Jaguar’s XE.

 

Speed-sensitive steering proved accurate though a little lacking in feel through the column, while the gearbox swapped cogs predictably and quickly. Fuel consumption was good, with Volkswagen quoting a combined cycle figure of 5,6 litres/100km as opposed to the 6,3 litres/100km that I managed to achieve during the test.

In terms of appointments, the Arteon’s equipment lines are extensive. Standard features include an infotainment system linked to a large, fascia-mounted screen – which incorporates gesture control – on which is displayed navigational, telephony or audio information.

 

R-Line embellishments extend to a panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control, front sport seats with massage functionality, a head-up display, ambient lighting elements on dashboard and doors and a Nappa leather, carbon styled interior. Instrumentation is of the digital variety and the monitor on which the dials are displayed can be configured to show various combinations of preferred information.

A central design element of the dashboard is an innovative air vent – designed as a functional yet decorative component – that extends across the width of the interior. Vents incorporate fine chrome trim strips to create a visual link to the cross-bars of the car’s radiator grille.

Standard safety features are extensive and include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Front Assist and City Emergency Braking as well as an Active Bonnet, which automatically rises in the event of a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist to help to protect the victim’s head.

 

 

A Park Package with Area View makes use of cameras positioned around the vehicle to create a 360-degree birds-eye view on the infotainment system display.

In all, the Gran Tourismo impresses through the practicality its design offers. It might not yet be top of mind in the consumer market – but its comfort, styling, appointments and performance make it an ideal family vehicle that represents a departure from the norm.

 

 

PRICES

2,0 TDI 130kW Elegance DSG                R599 900

2,0 TDI 130 kW R-Line DSG                   R649 900

2,0 TSI 206kW R-Line 4MOTION DSG    R699 900

Prices include a five-year/90 000km maintenance plan, three-year/120 000km warranty, 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and a space saver spare wheel. Service intervals are 15 000km.


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