Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Flat out, the Arteon's 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine isn’t a particularly brisk beast, but it delivers enough mid-range welly to easily build speed on motorways without you having to change down all the time. For most people, it should do the job quite nicely.
If you want more acceleration, though, try the 187bhp version, or you can even choose the same engine but with 236bhp – courtesy of a couple of turbochargers instead of just one in the others – that can whisk you from 0-62mph in 6.5sec.
Just bear in mind that, although the diesels are smooth compared with those in rivals such as the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé and Jaguar XE, they make more background grumble under hard acceleration than the impressively silky Audi A5 Sportback diesels.
So, what of the petrol engine line-up? Well, this starts with a turbocharged 1.5-litre unit that suffers less from vibration than the diesels, but produces some audible mechanical chunter at idle and a distant drone around 2500rpm – which, annoyingly, is just what the engine’s doing at typical motorway cruising speeds in top gear.
It also generates considerably less low and mid-range pull than the 148bhp diesel, so when you're looking for a boost of acceleration to overtake , it can feel like it's straining to motivate the Arteon’s fairly substantial body mass.
Given the choice, then, we’d opt for the 187bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre instead, if you don't want a diesel. This offers all the performance that you could reasonably need. And, if you want an automatic gearbox, the premium for this engine over an auto version of the 1.5 TSI 150 is very small.
Finally, there’s a twin-turbo petrol. With a thumping 276bhp and a willingness to rev, it's properly fast, as its 0-62mph time of just 5.6sec attests.
Depending on which engine you choose, it’ll come with a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed DSG automatic one. The manual is smooth and light to use, while the auto shifts slickly on the move but can be jerky at parking speeds.
In wet or slippery conditions, front-wheel-drive Arteons can struggle for traction, so it’s worth considering the 4Motion four-wheel drive system that’s available either as an option or standard on the most powerful engines. Even on greasy roads, this gives terrific traction out of tight corners.
Which brings us neatly on to the handling. The Arteon’s steering is well weighted and precise – if not as feelsome as the XE’s or the 4 Series’. As standard, you get variable steering, which is calmer at high speeds for better stability but quicker around town for less arm-twirling – a real boon when parking in tight spots.
The Arteon is sold as a sportier model than the Passat and, as such, it gets tweaked suspension to make it much more planted through corners, with lots of grip. Still, for keener drivers, it misses out on the playfulness of the rear-wheel-drive 4 Series and XE.
We’ve driven Arteons with standard non-adaptive suspension as well as examples with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive dampers. With the latter, even when set in Normal (one of three modes), the Arteon rides well both at motorway speeds and around town. Sharper potholes and ridges encountered at speed are the only things that catch it out and cause it to thump. The standard suspension is similarly compliant at speed but more unsettled in town, especially when paired with larger wheels.
On the motorway, you hear a fair amount of road noise, but wind noise is muted.