Volkswagen has replaced the Passat CC with a new swoopy saloon called the Arteon with 280 horsepower and all-wheel drive — Motormouth tested the car in the UAE mountains
When was the last time you dragged out your phone to snap a picture of a completely standard, fresh-off-the-showroom floor Volkswagen family saloon?
Maybe never would be the answer and yet there I was driving the new Volkswagen Arteon down the main strip at night and getting papped by guys in anything from modified Japanese sports coupes to German saloons bearing the letters A, M and G in their name.
It’s fair to say that the new Arteon made an impression on the local car culture scene during my short time with it and I have to say that I don’t blame anyone, because it is gorgeous.
The five-seater is the spiritual successor to the Passat-based CC which disappeared in 2012, but apart from the svelte, pillarless, four-door coupe look, it shares nothing with the previous style master from Wolfsburg.
The Arteon is effectively VW’s flagship saloon model (the overall flagship is the new third-generation Touareg which we’ve reviewed with some words and a video) and has been created by stretching its sleek panels over the company’s MQB transverse architecture used with everything form the Audi TT to the seven-seater VW Terramont.
What this means is that the Arteon is now lower, wider and stiffer than the Passat which explains why it also handles a whole lot better too. Being 25mm longer in wheelbase over the Passat and 127mm longer over the old CC, the Arteon is visibly more spacious inside especially with the ample rear legroom. That part’s good, but like all four-door coupes, its rear headroom is inadequate.
Another differentiator to the old CC is that the Arteon is basically a five-door hatch and the rear cargo area is nothing short of cavernous when its giant tailgate automatically lifts open via the interior switch or remote key.
The R-Line spec we had was a bit stiffer than the regular model thanks to its larger 19-inch rims and a 20mm drop in ride height, so its suspension had the tricky task of damping a car that sat on one inch larger diameter rims but also had a lowered ride height. The result was that it made you more aware of speed humps which had to be taken with increased caution.
Power comes from a 280bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pumps out 350Nm of torque and in the case of our test car, drives through all four wheels courtesy of VW’s 4Motion system and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
That’s good enough to get it to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 250km/h. It covers ground, but you can initially feel the four-cylinder working hard to get the mass rolling before things really start to hustle.
Inside, there’s no shortage of standard equipment. Nappa leather is used extensively throughout on the seats, console, door trim and steering wheel and the overall quality of interior fitment is first class with the exterior horizontal theme continuing with full width air-con vents across the dash.
The centre console houses an 8.0-inch touchscreen platform though our car was fitted with the larger 9.2-inch infotainment display which uses the latest in haptic technology. This sends a pulse through your fingers when you select various functions on the screen such as a radio station or air-con functions. The hands-free option is hit-and-miss — in theory it lets you change stations by swiping your hand in mid air or turning your finger clockwise to increase the volume and anti-clockwise to decrease. In theory… Obviously my technique must have needed further refining to make it work in the Arteon.
The whole system however is satisfyingly slick to use properly despite the fact you have to take your eyes off the road to use it as there are no physical controls to press or twist, which also means there’s a constant smear of finger marks left on the screen.
From the driver’s perspective, the fully digital 12.3-inch instrument binnacle is the same one used by sister company Audi and works extremely well providing a choice of options from speed to range and an extra navigation display in addition to the one in the centre. The dash display also pops up eco tips, suggesting you close the sunroof or wind the windows up.
It was one of few downsides to the Arteon experience as I felt I was being schooled whenever I wanted to cruise with the roof open (otherwise, why offer a sliding roof?) and I always disengage the stop-start function so the constant reminder suggesting I re-engage it, especially as these “tips” interrupted the navigation, was an annoyance that only became more irritating as the days wore on.
Useful safety features include a head-up display along with parking sensors at both ends, Park Assist that will do the job for you, and adaptive cruise control which uses GPS data to adjust for upcoming speed limits. In addition it also features predictive cruise control that adjusts the car’s speed to accommodate approaching bends and junctions.
Overall, there’s no shortage of features in the Arteon and it’s arguably the best looking car in its class but unlike the CC, it’s playing in a more luxurious sector due to its larger dimensions and sticker price that ranges from AED139,207 to AED190,550.
So while the Arteon gets the attention with its looks and performance, is it actually good enough to drag Audi A5 Sportback and Jaguar XE buyers away from their prestigious brands and into a car with a VW badge? Only time will tell.
Volkswagen Arteon R-Line
2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo | Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive | 280 horsepower and 350Nm of torque| 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h | AED190,550