Inside the Volkswagen Arteon, the best and most advanced Volkswagen yet
There are few cars that do everything drivers want. For those who seek the sensation of being pinned to the upholstery as their car launches them to 60mph in seconds, or the joy of tenacious grip as they dance the car from corner to corner, comfort is often sacrificed; an afterthought. On the other hand, those who prefer to proceed in luxury must, inevitably, renounce some degree of performance and dynamism.
There is a middle ground, however, and it’s cars like Volkswagen’s Arteon blazing a trail. Luxury without compromise, performance without discomfort, convenience without distraction. That’s what the Arteon is all about.
Elegance and purpose[gallery:3]
You can tell from the moment you lay eyes on it that there’s something a little bit special about the Arteon. The low stance, swooping lines and carefully placed creases of the bodywork suggest a sense of purpose, a sense of speed. Headlights that blend into the front grille and gaping front air scoops make the car feel wider and closer to the road. A dramatically sloping rear roofline and rear wheel arches that bulge sensuously at the hip – everything contributes to a car that feels like it might just be a little bit fun.
And yet there’s still something understated and serene about the way the Arteon sits on the road. It’s sedate as well as sporting, serene as well as purposeful. There’s nothing too shouty, too mouthy or outlandish about it. The Arteon is sleek and understated; the sort of car that has the potential to appeal to everyone, not just those seeking outright performance or the ultimate in luxury.[gallery:1]
It’s not a case of all mouth and no trousers, either: the Arteon has the credentials to back up what’s woven throughout the bodywork and exterior design. It starts with small nudges here and there, hints of what lies beneath: a bonnet that opens on a double pivot hinge; frameless windows that come with laminated double glazing to maintain a church-like quietude inside; and a boot that can open with the casual flick of your toe (available as an optional extra).
But it continues on the inside. Volkswagen says the Arteon is one of the most advanced cars it’s ever made, crammed with technology aimed at making you safer, your journey more comfortable and convenient. Yet the overriding impression you get when you settle into the cockpit for the first time is not that this is the spiritual successor to Doc Brown’s DeLorean or Michael Knight’s KITT, but that it’s a car of unfussy, timeless luxury.[gallery:7]
Nappa leather seats come as standard, naturally, ensuring comfort on long journeys, but the rest of the Arteon’s cockpit is also the epitome of calm. The dashboard sweeps across the front of the car in one long, uninterrupted line, punctuated only by a small, tasteful analogue clock. Air vents blend, barely noticed, into the dashboard’s detailing and even the car’s high-tech infotainment system seems to take a back seat, sitting quietly in the centre instead of jutting out abruptly as in other manufacturers’ cars.
Of course, there is plenty of technology at work. It powers the advanced 12.3in Active Info Display behind the steering wheel, that 8in Discover Navigation touchscreen in the centre, and the Volkswagen Arteon’s barrage of advanced, driver-assistance technologies. You can even kit out the Arteon’s seats with massage tech to revive your aching muscles, while three-zone climate control ensures all of your passengers can maintain their own levels of comfort.[gallery:6]
However, there’s not a moment where any of this intrudes on the Arteon’s sense of peace and tranquillity. Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, the Volkswagen Arteon is a car that’s a pleasure to be in: it’s relaxing, calm, light and airy, helped no doubt by the inclusion of a full-length, sliding, tilting sunroof.
This is all the more remarkable when you consider how practical the car is to own and live with. Viewed from the outside, the Volkswagen Arteon comes across as poised and purposeful, muscular and sporting. Nothing about its cat-like road-prowl, however, prepares you for the impeccable practicality of the car’s interior.[gallery:9]
At the rear, there’s a huge amount of space for passengers to stretch out their limbs, and that sloping roofline won’t prove a problem unless you’re considerably taller than six feet. Open the boot and an enormous luggage-lugging space is revealed, seeming to stretch out forever; it’s large enough to swallow several large cases and much more besides. With the seats up, it has an enormous 563 litres of capacity, enough to fit a family-load of holiday bags and gear. Flip down the seats and there’s space to squeeze in a generous selection of flat-pack Ikea furniture, too.
In the end, what the Volkswagen Arteon achieves is something quite remarkable. It’s the best-looking car Volkswagen has produced. It’s exciting to look at and elegant, packed with tech and luxurious. And yet it’s still thematically and identifiably a Volkswagen in every respect. It’s practical, beautifully made, safe, comfortable and great to drive. More than anything, though, the Volkswagen Arteon proves you don’t have to compromise if you’re selfish enough to want it all.