2018 Volkswagen Arteon 1.5 TSI Elegance review – price, specs and release date
Does the entry-level Volkswagen Arteon 1.5 TSI represent the pick of the range?...
Priced from £31,100 Release date On sale now
If we were to suggest that the Volkswagen Arteon is just a very expensive Passat with the roof bashed in, how many feathers do you think its maker would start spitting? Enough to stuff a king-sized duvet, we suspect.
Obviously, the designers would be the first to throw their arms into the air. They’d be protesting that no two body panels are alike and, without the VW roundel on the nose, who in their right mind would imagine the two cars were even remotely related?
Next up, it'd be the ergonomists. They’d be quick to point out how the Arteon’s extended wheelbase gives it more interior space and promotes a greater sense of luxury, before extolling the additional luggage space and greater versatility that the hatchback – sorry, VW prefers ‘fastback’ – provides over the Passat.
VW’s pragmatic engineers might just say that, although the two cars share many mechanical components, the entry-level Arteon gets the latest 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, while the Passat – for the time being, at least – has to make do with an ageing 1.4-litre unit.
2018 Volkswagen Arteon 1.5 TSI Elegance on the road
But enough of jesting – because, given the uncertainty surrounding diesels, Arteon buyers will probably be less concerned about the car’s bloodline and more interested in whether the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine is a credible alternative.
For a start, it’s a good deal smoother and quieter than the similarly powerful 2.0-litre TDI engine that VW also offers. That said, it’s not totally peaceful, producing some audible mechanical chunter at idle and a distant drone at around 2500rpm – this, in top gear, equates to typical motorway cruising speed.
In every other respect, though, it’s a hushed and cultured device that’s extremely well isolated, producing little in the way of vibration, bar some tingling through the steering wheel and the accelerator pedal when really twisting the rev counter to the redline.
Where it does fall short is in its ability to build speed. Although it produces an identical amount of power to the 2.0 TDI (and it, too, is turbocharged), the 1.5 TSI generates considerably less low and mid-range pull. When you’re looking for a boost of overtaking acceleration it can feel like it is straining to motivate the Arteon’s fairly substantial body weight unless you work the engine really hard.
Overall, the 1.5 TSI Arteon is as competent as the rest of the range. While its ride is generally smooth and well controlled, on our test car’s optional adjustable suspension a modicum of undesirable after-shake can be felt when you encounter larger bumps. Additionally, although it’s never to the point where it becomes annoying, coarser road surfaces do lead to some low-frequency vibrations coursing through the Arteon’s body.
Dynamically, the Arteon never disguises its bulk as well as we’d like. Feeling reluctant to change direction in bends is a trait that isn’t helped by the tall, rather squidgy sidewalled tyres fitted to Elegance cars. Additionally, despite its variable assistance, the steering always feels light. That’s fine around town but there’s a lack of definition as speeds build, so you need to maintain a strong, steadying hand, otherwise the front of the car can feel like it is meandering a bit on the motorway.
2018 Volkswagen Arteon 1.5 TSI Elegance interior
We’ve already alluded to the fact that the Arteon is an incredibly spacious car, with loads of leg and elbow room, even if that swooping roofline means head room is a little snug in the rear. At the risk of rocking the boat even more, though, we have to say the Arteon's dashboard looks suspiciously like it has been lifted wholesale from the Passat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because, along with the rest of the fixtures and fittings, everything is solidly constructed from high-quality materials.
The standard infotainment system comes with an 8.0in touchscreen, meaning it’s not as easy to use on the move as systems with rotary dial controllers, such as Audi’s MMI or BMW’s iDrive. That said, the on-screen icons are big and bold, and the menus are reasonably easy to work through. You also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard.
Visibility isn't bad for a coupé-like car. But while it’s fine forward, the view out of the back – dare we say it – is not as clear as that in the Passat, due to that narrow rear window and thick, steeply angled rear pillars. At least front and rear parking sensors come as standard.
If you want to learn more about the Arteon’s interior, you can skip over to our comprehensive 16-point review. If you fancy sticking one on your drive already, you can save thousands in our New Car Buying section, too.