Volkswagen Arteon Review
The Volkswagen Arteon is a roomy coupe with a big boot and a cool exterior design – but it’s expensive and both the driving experience and interior could do with a bit more wow factor
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Stylish looks
- Big boot
- Lots of rear leg room
What's not so good
- Expensive for a VW
- Interior’s a little ordinary
- Alternatives are more fun to drive
Volkswagen Arteon: what would you like to read next?
The Volkswagen Arteon is a big, roomy coupe that throws in a bit of style to spice up the Volkswagen Passat’s family-friendly recipe.
The Arteon’s big front grille helps it stand out from other similar coupes such as the Audi A5 Sportback, but sadly the VW Arteon can’t match the Audi’s stylish interior design. Everything inside the Arteon has been borrowed from the much-cheaper Passat, and although the cabin is well built, the materials are soft to the touch and it comes with a digital instrument screen like in an Audi TT, it just lacks the wow factor of the exterior.
Room inside the Volkswagen Arteon is impressive though, and the heated front seats are comfy and have electric lumbar support to help you travel long distances without backache. Things are spacious in the back too – your passengers get loads more knee room than the not-exactly-cramped Audi A5 Sportback, and the Arteon’s a tad roomier than the Audi for three adults sitting side-by-side, though you still won’t want to carry three back there for long trips.
You’ll easily fit three people’s luggage in the big boot, however, which is noticeably bigger than the A5 Sportback’s. You can flip all the seats down to leave a huge space, which will easily swallow a bike with both wheels still attached.
The Arteon looks like a stylish coupe on the outside, but there’s less of a wow factor inside, where you may as well just be in a Passat
The best engines for the Volkswagen Arteon are the 2.0-litre, 280hp petrol engine, or the 2.0-litre, 240hp diesel, and both come with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox as standard. The petrol is smooth, pretty quick and not too bad on fuel, given the performance, but the noisier diesel gives slightly better fuel economy on long drives.
Whichever you pick, don’t expect the Volkswagen Arteon to feel quite as sporty as the A5 or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe when you come to a twisty road. It soaks up bumps well, however, especially when you flick the optional adjustable suspension into comfort mode, and there’s lots of high-end technology to keep you safe. There’s a system that will automatically pull over and stop the car if it detects you’ve fallen unconscious at the wheel, and all models come with adaptive cruise control that can keep a set distance from the car in front before accelerating to your chosen speed when the road clears.
All that tech helped the Volkswagen Arteon earn a five-star Euro NCAP score in 2017’s tough crash tests. That means it’s not only a practical and stylish coupe, but one that’s well suited to family life – it’s just a shame it lacks the allure of rivals with more premium badges.
The VW Arteon interior is well built and comes with plenty of clever kit as standard, but alternative models are more stylish inside
The Arteon may look low, sleek and sporty, but it does a very good impression of a family car. In fact, it’ll only seem small if you try to get three people across the back seat
Unexpected pleasures are always the best ones, and I was properly surprised at just how much space there is inside the Arteon
The Arteon has a decent amount of room in the front and back seats.
Both the driver’s seat and steering wheel have a wide range of adjustment so you should be able to get comfortable whether you’re tall or small. You also get plenty of handy features as standard such as heated front seats that move electrically and electrically operated lumbar adjustment, meaning even long journeys pass by without you having to suffer aches and pains.
The same applies to your passengers in the back seat. It has loads of kneeroom – more than you’ll get in an Audi A5 Sportback – and a decent amount of headroom, although tall passengers sitting bolt upright will brush their hair on the roof.
For an extra £335 you can have heating for the outer rear seats, separate air-conditioning controls and couple of extra USB sockets so your rear-seat passengers can charge their phones – it’s an option that’s worth going for if you often carry four people.
It’s only when you try to get three people in the back that space becomes a bit of an issue because the middle seat is narrow and there’s a shortage of elbowroom. Footroom is okay despite the hump in the floor because the middle passengers can share their companions’ footwells.
Getting a baby seat into the back of the Arteon is helped by its large rear doors and the sheer amount of space there is behind the front seats. The Arteon’s sporty roofline means you’ll have to duck a little lower than you do in a Passat saloon, but the clearly marked Isofix points make it easy to slot the seat base in and the chair itself clicks easily on top.
The Arteon has a decent amount of interior storage with a glovebox that is big enough for a large bottle of water and four door bins that can hold a litre bottle each with space left over. Up front, you also get a couple of cupholders, a smaller storage area under the front centre armrest with a USB plug to charge your smartphone, and a tray behind the gearstick, although it isn’t big enough for your phone. Meanwhile, back seat passengers get a couple of cup holders in the rear centre armrest.
The Arteon’s flowing looks haven’t come at the expense of a big boot. In fact, its 563-litre capacity is about the same size as you get in the more sensible Volkswagen Passat, and much bigger than the boot in the 480-litre Audi A5 Sportback.
You also get handy boot features such as flip-down hooks for your shopping and tether points for safely securing bulky luggage.
You won’t even feel like you’ve got a raw deal when it comes to loading. The Arteon has a boot lip you’ll need to lift heavy luggage over, but the massive opening left by the large boot lid makes up for this.
The VW has no trouble carrying everyday items such as a baby buggy or a set of golf clubs – in fact you can fit four suitcases and a couple of soft bags without having to bother removing the parcel shelf.
The Arteon’s back seats split 60:40 so you can carry up to two rear-seat passengers and have some longer luggage poking in from the boot.
With the rear seats folded down you get a 1,557-litre load bay, which is big enough to swallow a bike with both its wheels attached and should be up to the job of carrying a decent amount of flatpack furniture, too.
The Volkswagen Arteon has a good range of engines is quick and comfortable, but if you want a practical coupe that’s fun to drive the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is a better bet
Fitting the 280hp petrol engine to the Arteon is a bit like putting a flake in your ice cream – it just feels right
The Volkswagen Arteon is available with two petrol engines, with 190 or 280hp, or two diesels with 150 or 240hp – all models come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and the two most powerful models also get four-wheel drive.
The best option is the top-of-the-range 280hp petrol that’s smoother and quieter than the 240hp diesel and also gives the Arteon a serious turn of speed. With it fitted the Arteon can get from 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds, so you can overtake long queues of traffic without having to spend a dangerous length of time on the wrong side of the road. The price of that performance is fuel economy that’ll probably not better 30mpg, although Volkswagen gives an official figure of 38.7mpg.
If you do a lot of motorway miles then it’s worth considering the more economical 240hp diesel, which should return 38mpg to the 47.9mpg Volkswagen claims. It’s a little noisier than the petrol and doesn’t feel quite as quick, but it’s still plenty fast enough.
If you want to save a little money, the 190hp petrol is cheaper to buy than the top-of-the-range models and – unlike the 150hp diesel – is fast enough to live up to the Arteon’s sporty looks.
The Volkswagen Arteon is easy to drive even though it’s quite big.
Around town its controls are light and there aren’t any major blind spots to deal with. All models come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox so you don’t have to worry about operating a clutch and its shifts are so smooth you’ll barely feel it changing gear.
It can be a little jerky when you’re parking but you soon get used to pushing the accelerator pedal slightly harder than feels natural to edge forwards and backwards. The car’s front and rear parking sensors are a big help when you’re trying to fit into tight spaces, but if you’re not confident reversing then it’s worth paying £645 for Park Assist, which can steer the car into spaces for you – all you do is operate the accelerator and brake.
Although it’s easy to drive in town, the Arteon feels even more at home on the motorway, where it’s quiet (although not quite as quiet as an Audi A5 Sportback) and comfortable.
All models come with active cruise control, which can brake the car automatically when it detects a slower car in front before returning to its set cruising speed when the way is clear. Unlike in other cars, the Volkswagen’s system can also slow it before bends and pull the car over when it senses you have become unresponsive (due to sleep or something worse) behind the wheel. The Arteon’s headlights are also clever – they can shine around upcoming corners by using data from the sat-nav.
Thanks to this healthy list of standard equipment, the Arteon scored full marks for safety when it wash crash tested by Euro NCAP under its tough 2017 conditions.
Unfortunately, the Arteon isn’t quite so good at being fun to drive as, say, a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. And, although its suspension can be firmed up to cut out lean in corners, the Sport setting also shows up bumps to the point that you’re better off leaving it in more relaxing Comfort.
While it isn’t fun, the VW is a car you can confidently drive quickly, plus top-of-the-range petrol and diesel models come with four-wheel drive, so they have plenty of grip even on wet and slippery roads.