If you’re after an practical coupe with a bit of style, both the VW Arteon and Audi A5 Sportback should be near the top of your shopping list. Both are made by the VW Group and have more similarities than you might expect. But which one should you buy? Mat Watson is on hand to pick a winner.
Look at the retail prices for these two cars and you’ll see that they’re pretty evenly matched. Both start at a smidge under £33,000, with the entry-level Arteon being £60 cheaper than the A5 Sportback. At the top end of the range, there’s a bigger difference – the top-spec Arteon is £39,555 while an A5 with all the bells and whistles will set you back £45,320 – an extra £6,000.
However, go through carwow and you can get both of these cars for substantially less than RRP. So what are the discounts like? At the time of writing, the VW has a healthy average saving of £3,336, but is blown out the water by the £5,644 average saving that Audi can give you – is this an Audi that’s good value?
One of the first words that comes to mind when describing the Arteon is striking, especially for a VW. Normally opting for conservative, middle-of-the-road styling, VW went to town with the Arteon with cool details such as the overhanging bonnet and huge grille that even overshadows the Audi’s.
In comparison, the A5 looks a bit plainer. If you don’t want your car to stand out, it’s the car for you – its looks are understated but still classy, and the Audi badge on the front is a big draw. You can jazz the styling of the A5 up a bit by specifying S Line trim which adds sportier bumpers and bigger wheels.
The styling flair shown on the outside of the Arteon hasn’t been translated to the interior – it’s nice enough, but it’s no different to the dashboard in the much-cheaper Passat. That said, the 9.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system really lifts the cabin and looks great – it’s also easy to use and even features rudimentary gesture control. A sharp, customisable digital driver’s display comes as standard, while the same system is an optional extra in the Audi.
Still, the A5 Sportback’s interior feels super-luxurious, with all the style, quality and techy gadgetry you’d expect from a premium car. The infotainment system uses a trackpad and control knob, so you don’t have to use the touchscreen while driving like in the Arteon – on the move, the Audi’s unit is definitely the easiest to operate.
If you get the Arteon, you might also have to get a chauffeur because you’ll want to sit in the back. It’s absolutely huge in the second row, with more than enough legroom for your tallest passengers. Child seats are also very easy to fit because the doors are so wide, and the flip-up Isofix covers means you won’t lose them.
In the Audi, they’re removable and therefore much easier to lose. It’s also not as easy to fit a child seat because there’s less space to get one in, and leg and headroom aren’t as commodious. That said, it’s still big enough for most people to get comfy, although it’s more cramped for three people than the VW.
Has VW skimped on boot space by offering more passenger space? It’s a resounding nope – the VW’s boot is enormous, with plenty of room for a lot of luggage and boxes. It’s bigger and a more useful shape than the boot in the Audi, but in terms of outright space there’s not too much in it. Both will comfortably carry most things you’ll be wanting to put in the boot, whether that’s suitcases, Swedish flatpack furniture, a pushchair or golf clubs.
If you drove the VW in isolation, you’d come to the conclusion that it’s very good. It’s comfy, handles well and gets a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard, while higher-powered versions get four-wheel-drive.
However, the Audi is even better – it’s quieter than the VW, and even on the standard suspension it’s really comfortable and relaxing. It handles well too, and its good all-round ability means it has the VW licked for ease of driving around town.
The decision between these two cars comes down to a few things. If you’re after eye-catching styling and huge amounts of space, you’re best off in the Arteon. Both of these cars are premium enough to consider and the prices aren’t too different, but the Audi wins this test for being just slightly better and more well-rounded. The interior feels more special, it’s seriously comfortable and quiet, and overall it’s the more expensive-feeling choice – even though it costs about the same or less than the VW.