Volkswagen Arteon long-term test review

Our long-time Korean car convert Will Williams has taken delivery of a swanky new Volkswagen Arteon. Can its Germanic charms woo our senior snapper?...

2018 Volkswagen Arteon long term composite image
  • The car: Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TSI 190 Elegance DSG
  • Run by: Will Williams, senior photographer
  • Why it’s here: To find out if there’s still life in the executive car class and whether the Arteon makes more sense than a Passat
  • Needs to: Be comfortable, smooth-riding and economical on a colossal commute, with plenty of space for photography equipment

Price £33,545 Price as tested £35,335 Miles 9812 Official economy 47.1mpg Test economy 37.6mpg Options fitted Crimson Red metallic paint (£665); Heated front climate windscreen (£305); Dynamic Chassis Control (£820); Silver Birch interior trim (no cost)

9 January 2019 – Saying goodbye to the Volkswagen Arteon

What’s the fuss with SUVs? It’s getting hard to remember a time when they weren’t popular (especially with my memory), but after six months running a brilliant executive car, I have more than enough evidence that new car buyers should keep an open mind.

If people think SUVs are more stylish, I’d encourage them to take a second glance at the Volkswagen Arteon – surely one of the better-looking mainstream cars on sale today.

And I'll admit then when I first took delivery of my Arteon, my main concern was whether there’d be much substance to match its undoubted style, but the answer is an emphatic yes.

As an obsessive mile cruncher, the main priority for me is comfort. The Arteon proved to be a great cruiser, with a stable and relaxing ride on the motorway that really feels like it's gliding over the road. The engine fades nicely into the background, the super comfortable seats hug you like a best friend and it’s nice to have the option of using the adaptive cruise control to really take the stress out of things when you get to the back of the queue on the motorway on a Friday night.

Volkswagen Arteon and Will Williams with Honda NSX in background

But, pleasingly, the Arteon has a fun side, too. On backroads, it loves to rev, with a delightfully crisp top-end that sounds pretty rorty for a four-pot, along with nicely weighted, accurate steering.

My previous long-termer was a Skoda Karoq SUV. I did enjoy my time with that car, and of course these two aren’t natural competitors, but I still can’t see what an SUV could offer me over what the Arteon’s package does.

Especially since this Arteon packs a well-powered petrol engine that returned more-than-reasonable fuel economy. That 2.0-litre engine has really been one of the biggest factors in my enjoyment of the Arteon.

And as for space, well, the Arteon would give many SUVs a run for their money. Its boot is massive and helpfully shaped, with a ski hatch for especially long items, and I found I hardly ever needed to fold the seats down – and let me tell you, us photographers carry around a lot of stuff.

But few buyers will really be choosing between this and an SUV. No, the Arteon’s truer competitor remains the Jaguar XE, a car it beat in our group test when it was first released. Having spent some time in both, I can see why it won. For build quality, space and refinement, the Arteon is a cut above the XE. Sure, the latter is sweeter to drive, but I’d wager you’d appreciate the more rounded offering of the Arteon.

As I’ve said in previous reports, I think our Elegance trim is pretty bang on the money – with the only exception being the annoying omission of a rear-view camera. But as the temperature has dropped recently, the heated windscreen (a £305 option) has been a worthy addition to the equipment list.

Volkswagen Arteon front driving shot

The nights have been drawing in, too, and the Arteon's Matrix headlights have proved absolutely brilliant. They are incredibly bright and have high beam assistance as standard, meaning you can whack them on full beam and they will automatically ensure they don’t dazzle other drivers. It has worked perfectly and is a feature that I particularly miss on any other car I get in that doesn’t have it.

As for downsides, I’m pleased to say that there have been hardly any. In fact, I’d go so far to say that if this isn’t the best long-termer I’ve ever had, it’s certainly in my top three.

In my first report, I noted that there were some squeaks and rattles on the dashboard – a problem I solved in a rather rudimentary fashion with some strong Blu Tack under the Silver Birch inserts.

The sat-nav was pretty keen on detours, often trying to take me off a motorway junction only to rejoin it again at the next one. But no car sat-navs are as good as phone apps.

The heavy bootlid with no electrically powered tailgate took a bit of getting used to, but my biceps were once again grateful for the workout.

The real test of how good a long-termer is, though, is how you feel when it’s gone. Well, I have no shame in admitting that I miss the Arteon. If I were in the market for a new executive car, it would certainly make my shortlist.

Next up for me is something a little different: I’ll be jumping up to a Volkswagen Amarok pick-up truck.

Private price now £24,473 Trade-in price now £24,932 Test economy 37.6mpg Official average 47.1mpg Cost per mile £0.15 Total running cost £1443.10 Insurance Group 26E Typical insurance quote £719


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