After many, many months long terming in the VW Arteon, it is still something of an anomaly. We got our long-termer a few weeks before the introduction of the facelifted Arteon. Apart from minor external styling changes, a new dashboard, a touch-controlled heating system and a new steering wheel, our pre-facelift long-termer is still very much 95-percent similar to the facelifted variant. First of all the interior. It has been largely dismissed by the automotive community because of its Passat origins. Actually, it is the best and most refined interior VW makes. And it feels premium, it isn’t too far away from the vibe of a BMW 5 Series or Audi A6. For sure BMW and Audi use more premium materials here and there but the differences with the Arteon don’t feel that substantial.
The Arteon’s interior feels just as solid as a 5 Series or A6, and I even like the minimalist interior design. What I do not like is the sluggish infotainment system. It takes 2 minutes to boot up and it’s actually slower than the previous iteration. No need to go into too much detail about the usability of the graphical interface because every infotainment system has a certain amount of discoverability before you get accustomed to the quirks and functionality of whatever system you are using be it BMW, Audi, or Mercedes.
The seats are comfortable, the driving position is good. Interior space is limo-like and rear passengers can stretch their legs out. Despite that coupe profile, rear headroom is excellent, the Arteon can easily accommodate tall people. And even the boot is actually bigger than the VW Tiguan by a few litres. But it does lack the ease of accessibility of an SUV. A small trade-off. The VW Arteon is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine which has proved to be extremely economical.
On short journeys around town it can manage 33mpg. On 150-mile round trips with motorway mileage, I am getting 51mpg. I did not expect that kind of return from a petrol engine. And the petrol engine is decently powered, the R Line has up to 190PS and 320 Nm of torque. And that power is channeled through a 7-speed DSG transmission providing propulsion to the front wheels. All in all, it is more than swift enough. The Arteon also has driving modes. When driving modes were first introduced around 10 years ago they seemed like a pointless exercise in meeting emissions targets.
However, the software and processing power have advanced making driving modes much more usable and accommodating. But I always leave the Arteon in Eco Mode because the gear changes are smoother and gentler than in Sports Mode. I find Sports Mode to be too harsh for everyday driving. Yes, you get better throttle control, the steering wheel gets firmer etc. But the gear changes are all over the place.
For example, if you are on the motorway doing 70mph the computer will decide to drop down a gear. And then you change up only for the gears to drop down again a few moments later. And around town, the gears will constantly change up and down, presumably to encourage you to drive in a sporting manner. After a while it becomes irritating. There is an option to customise the driving mode which is something I have yet to do. But Sports Mode is not the only irritating aspect about the Arteon.
The biggest issue I have is with the ride quality. It is all over the place. On UK roads the Arteon feels too stiff and as a result bucks and throws you around like a rag doll. Of course, I am exaggerating, but I am not too far off. Only ultra-smooth surfaces get the best out of the VW Arteon’s ride quality. I have since discovered why this is. The Arteon rides on similar run-flat tyre technology as used by BMW. Basically, the inner core of the tyre is made up of a hard layer of rubber.
As a consequence, the tyre sidewalls are stiff and we all know tyres form part of the suspension. The lack of shock absorption from the tyres exacerbates the Arteon’s ride quality. Conversely, the handling is really good. But why didn’t VW engineer a solution to counter the stiffer tyres? After all, they test prototype mules for hundreds and thousands of miles. What are the VW engineers doing during these test campaigns? Ordering a McDonald’s?
It turns out VW does have a solution, it’s called adaptive suspension which will iron out the negative vibes generated by those tyres. The R-Line did come with adaptive suspension as standard but the feature was dropped with the introduction of the flagship Arteon R. You screwed us VW. So, if you are interested in getting an Arteon R Line, add the adaptive suspension from the options list. It is a £1k option but it will stop you from having the feeling you made a giant mistake.
The other issue I have with the Arteon is the road and tyre noise. It is as loud as a jet fighter at take-off. They made this classy-looking car and they cut costs with the lack of soundproofing. How expensive is soundproofing material? how expensive is it to install during the production process? Why test at all?
Equipment levels for the Arteon R Line are good. It’s got adaptive cruise control, fancy-looking LED headlights, a decent sounding audio system, digital drivers binnacle and the main highlights being heated front seats. And that’s all I need from a car. Anything else is an added bonus.
You know what after covering many miles I really do like and hate the VW Arteon. All in all, it is bloody irritating.