Volkswagen Arteon R Shooting Brake Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Tuesday 3rd October
Car Review

Volkswagen Arteon R Shooting Brake review

£33,070 - £51,870
Published: 29 Jun 2021
This is finally the spicier Arteon we've been waiting for

Good stuff

Actually a brilliant family all-rounder, subtle looks, it’s not an SUV

Bad stuff

The 4cyl engine does sound slightly dull, laggy touchscreen


What is it?

This estate version of the Arteon might not technically be a shooting brake, but it comes out all guns blazing in R mode, so we can forgive Volkswagen such peccadilloes as overly ambitious naming strategies. Indeed, if the German company can come up with a way to make saloons sounds a bit more enticing it might be able to shift a few more cars. Less forgivable is the company’s description of the car as sitting in the “avant-garde business class”, which might appeal to a certain sort of customer but makes us want to drive the car into a wall. Ahem.

Is it just a fast engine in a dull car?

You can’t really sniff at the 316bhp and 310lb ft of torque that emerge through all four wheels of the Shooting Brake R – although it has to be said that the 2.0-litre turbocharged 4cyl motor doesn’t sound as exciting as it perhaps could. It’s all just a bit droning and characterless until the exhaust comes into play through the fruitier driving modes. Perhaps VW is trying to keep the car stealthy when you’re at 6/10ths, but the styling is beefy enough on the outside that you’d like a bit more theatrics as you go. 

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So what have they upgraded for the R version?

We did criticise the standard car for being a bit dull to drive, but recognised the potential for a fun car. Volkswagen has mostly delivered on that potential – the Shooting Brake R’s makeover has meant 4MOTION all-wheel drive with R-Performance torque vectoring that shoots power to the best wheel for the job, 20mm of ride height has been chopped out thanks to new sports running gear (trick suspension, that is, not lycra shorts from Decathlon). Up front are MacPherson struts and a multi-link set-up at the back, while an electronic LSD is integrated into the stability control. The car’s adaptive dampers make for an assertively sporty ride that still manages to smother out the worst of the road’s imperfections. Drive over speed bumps and you’ll barely notice they were there. 

The estate bit is pointless, isn’t it?

Someone got out of the wrong side of bed this morning. But if we’re going to get technical about it, then yes – the estate bit is pointless. The actual difference in boot space between the standard Arteon and the Shooting Brake is less than 30 litres with the seats up. The hatchback offers 564 litres and 1,557 litres seats up and seats down versus the 590/1,632 litres you’ll get in the estate version.

But that’s missing the point, because the estate version looks so much cooler. There are fast cars that the kids just love as you drive past, with the Arteon Shooting Brake R you get the knowing glances from the dads. Maybe we’re just getting old, but it’s nice to have a car that’s appreciated by people who know. And what price is such a lift in street cred? A mere £820 for the estate R over the hatchback R. A no-brainer, really.

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What's the verdict?

The Arteon Shooting Brake R proves you don’t need to default to an SUV

The Arteon Shooting Brake R is one of those rare great all-rounders – an accomplished and comfortable cruiser that’s capable of loosening up and enjoying itself when you want it too. Likewise it’s as happy loitering around town as it is haring about the countryside.

We might be in danger of sounding like a stuck record at this point, but what SUV displays the same genuine dynamic breadth as this? The Arteon R in estate form proves that you don’t need to default to an SUV to go for a practical family option and still get some driver satisfaction.

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