Volkswagen Arteon (2017-2020) review
The Volkswagen Arteon has cool exterior design and a big boot, but it’s expensive, and the interior and the way it drives could do with a bit more wow factor
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The Volkswagen Arteon sits within the rest of the VW range like a hot chilli you throw into a rather generic curry to give it a bit of a kick. It’s big, roomy coupe that spices up the Volkswagen Passat’s family-friendly recipe with its seriously stylish design.
The Arteon’s big front grille helps it stand out from other similar coupes such as the Audi A5 Sportback, but the VW can’t match the Audi’s stylish interior design. Almost everything inside the Arteon has been borrowed from the much-cheaper Passat.
Sure, 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, but the VW Arteon’s cabin lacks the pizzazz of some alternatives.
What it loses out in the style stakes, the Arteon’s cabin makes up for in practicality. There’s plenty of space for you to stretch out in the heated electrically adjustable front seats and there’s more knee room in the back than you get in the not-exactly-cramped Audi A5 Sportback.
Things get a bit cosy if you try to carry three adults at once, but at least you’ll easily fit three people’s luggage in the big boot, which is noticeably bigger than the A5 Sportback’s. And, that’s before you’ve flipped to back seats down.
The Arteon looks like a stylish coupe on the outside, but there’s less wow factor inside, where you may as well just be in a Passat
You can get the VW Arteon with a range of petrol and diesel engines. The more affordable petrol models are better suited to city driving while the diesel versions are a better fit for those doing lots of long motorway journeys. You can also get it with four-wheel drive, though its an option you can probably do without unless you live somewhere prone to particularly icy winter weather.
Whichever you pick, don’t expect the Volkswagen Arteon to feel quite as sporty as an Audi A5 Sportback 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, including s a system that’ll automatically pull over and stop the car if it detects you’ve fallen unconscious at the wheel.
All this tech helps make the Volkswagen Arteon a practical and stylish coupe that’s safe, and well suited to family life. It’s just a shame it lacks the allure of rivals with more premium badges.
Read on for our in-depth interior, practicality and driving review sections or head over to our VW Arteon deals page to see how much you can save on your next new car.
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’ll have no trouble getting comfortable whether you’re tall or small. Pick and Elegance or R Line model and you also get heated front seats that move electrically and come with adjustable lumbar adjustment – just the thing for preventing aches and pains on long drives.
The same applies to your passengers in the back seat. There’s plenty of knee room – 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.
You can get heated outer rear seats, separate air-conditioning controls and a couple of extra USB sockets so those in the back 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 elbow room. Footroom is okay despite the hump in the floor because the middle passenger can share their companions’ footwells without any fuss.
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 three petrol and three diesel engines. Depending on which engine you pick, you can get the Arteon with either a manual or automatic gearbox and two- or four-wheel drive.
The range kicks off with a 1.5-litre petrol model with 150hp. It’ll be worth considering if you spend a lot of time driving in town, but for a mix of city and country roads, you’ll want to check out the more powerful 190hp 2.0-litre petrol car. Not only is it quicker, but it comes with a responsive – if slightly jerky at very slow speeds – automatic gearbox as standard.
If you spend a great deal of time on the motorway, you’ll want to consider one of the three 2.0-litre diesel Arteons. These come with 150hp, 190hp and 240hp – so you can pick between slightly lethargic performance with good fuel economy, a balance of speed and running costs, or a seriously fast motorway cruiser that’ll think nothing of blasting past long queues of slow-moving traffic.
The 150hp and 190hp diesel models can be had with either a manual or an automatic gearbox, while the latter also comes with the option of four-wheel drive. The more powerful 240hp Arteon gets this as standard, as does the fastest 272hp 2.0-litre petrol version.
This range-topping car is seriously speedy but can’t match the fuel economy of the slower – and cheaper – petrol versions. It’s worth a look if you absolutely must have the fastest model on sale, but if not, you’ll be better off with a less sporty model.
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. Models with a seven-speed automatic gearbox are a little jerky at very slow speeds – such as when you’re parking – but they change gear very smoothly once you’re up to speed.
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 extra 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 some other cars, Volkswagen’s system can also slow it before bends and pull the car over when it senses you have become unresponsive 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 was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2017.
Unfortunately, the Arteon isn’t quite as fun to drive as, say, a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. And, although its suspension can be firmed up to help stop its body leaning in corners, the Sport setting also shows up bumps to the point that you’re better off leaving it in more relaxing Comfort mode.
That said, the VW Arteon has plenty of grip in tight turns, which helps inspire confidence on unfamiliar roads. Top-of-the-range petrol and diesel models come with four-wheel drive, too, so they have plenty of grip on wet and slippery roads.
The VW Arteon interior is well built and comes with plenty of clever kit as standard, but alternative models are more stylish inside