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The Top Gear car review:Volkswagen Arteon
For:Bold looks, masses of space, likely plentiful equipment
Against:Premium pricing and mainstream badge, not interesting to drive
What is it?
The Arteon is not, says Volkswagen, a replacement for the Passat CC, but instead a new contender that’s intended to elevate VW to new heights. VW describes the Arteon as an ‘avant-garde gran turismo’, to which we retort it’s a rakish hatchback, that’s big on looks and big inside. Those aspirations attached to it are pretty sizeable, too, because unlike the Passat CC the Arteon most definitely doesn’t replace before it, it’s aiming at some premium-badged rivals from Audi and BMW. Specifically cars like the A5 Sportback and 4 Series Gran Coupe, so, um, not an altogether design-led, upmarket or tough segment, then.
Volkswagen reckons the Arteon’s got the measure of them though, dimensionally. It’s a car certainly not lacking in scale. That doesn’t just give it presence, but space, too. It’ll turn heads: we’ve never seen anything from VW so obviously and extravagantly styled. It’s busy and interesting compared to Volkswagen’s more typically restrained norm. A deliberate move, considering the Arteon is going to have to stand out among those established, and desirable competitors.
There will be two trim levels, Elegance, which as its name suggests shows a bit of restraint in its styling, or R-Line, which ups the assertiveness with sporting details around the wide front grille and drops some of the Elegance’s exterior chrome. It’s been developed from the outset to ride on 20-inch alloy wheels, which given they’re needed to fill the sizeable wheelarches is a good thing. The engine line-up at launch is very much focussed at the more potent end of the scale, with a pair of 2.0-litre units delivering either 240bhp or 280bhp depending on their taste for fuel - diesel for less, petrol for more.
Both those engine choices come mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, while VW’s 4Motion also features. There’s talk that smaller engines, without 4Motion, will follow, and even mutterings of a shooting brake too, but given this is very much an explorative jump into a new segment that will depend on the sales this early pair delivers.