Volkswagen has launched a new flagship model in New Zealand.
Well, the new Arteon, isn’t the most expensive car in the Volkswagen range, that belongs to Amarok and other light commercials if you load in the extra kit, but in the car range the $74,990 Arteon is the price leader.
The Arteon is described by Volkswagen as a fastback grand tourer, which to me could be simply described as a four-door coupe. It lands in New Zealand in one model only and doesn’t carry a daunting option list; essentially, what you pay up front is for a high-specification vehicle in the first instance. There are wheel, paint and audio upgrades available as well as the option of an electric sunroof, but that is it.
As you would expect from a model which sits squarely in the luxury car class, the Arteon is chock full of goodies, specification way too numerous to mention in detail, but I can report that with its clever control network and driver assistance systems, the Arteon will quickly win over potential buyers.
At almost 4.9m, the Arteon is a big car and one which cocoons its occupants with a high degree of comfort. The seats are superb and there is a large amount of interior space, especially in the rear where three broad-shouldered adults can be seated without squeeze. That area isn’t compromised by a large load space (563-litre) under an electric tailgate.
At the other end sits a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine of 1984cc. Volkswagen rate it at 206kW with 350Nm of torque. If these figures seem familiar, that’s because it is much the same engine which powers other vehicles throughout the Volkswagen conglomerate, notably in New Zealand with Passat and Skoda’s Superb.
That aside, it is a sweet engine and one which fits well the concept of Arteon, it is strong and quiet, and coupled to a seven-speed direct shift gearbox it works freely through the transmission.
The power outputs are registered low in the rev band – maximum torque arrives at just 1700rpm while peak power is delivered at 5600rpm. Because these figures arrive early there is substantial strength from early acceleration, and that is reflected in a quick standstill to 100km/h time of 5.6sec. Volkswagen also claim a 250km/h top speed. While the latter figure is a little unrealistic in New Zealand, on the European highways the Arteon would be well capable of living up to its GT classification.
Indeed, it is a fabulous highway cruiser with whisper quiet sound and a chassis which will cater for all road surfaces. There are four drive modes available which can be selected depending on each journey. I far preferred the normal mode, which is a good balance between eco, comfort and sport, with each having their own individual strengths depending on how you wish to drive.
I took the test car west to the Inland Scenic Route (SH72) which runs parallel to the Malvern Hills. I detoured to tackle the tight, challenging corners into the Waimakariri River gorge.
Huge Pirelli PZero tyres (245/40 x 19in) provide immense grip and deliver positive feedback at the steering wheel. Turn-in is sharp and body balance is well controlled. That’s no surprise, the Arteon sits only 1450mm high, therefore there isn’t a lot of gravitational force working over the suspension, body lean is minimal.
Of course, the Arteon gets Volkswagen’s 4Motion for-wheel-drive system. That in itself helps supply grip along with other obvious benefits where slippery or unsealed road surfaces are presented.
With the complex fully independent system and the freedom that allows at the rear, there are times when drive rearwards can be picked up by those on-board and that offers a secure feel throughout the entire vehicle.
All this, along with spring and damper rates that don’t compromise comfort, even in the firmer sport mode setting, make the Arteon an enjoyable drive at all levels, even at city speed it does its best to entertain and relax the driver all at the same time.
The Arteon is also a car which won’t tax our fossil fuel reserves. The turbocharging system allows for spirited motoring in true GT fashion, but it is also structured so that fuel waste is minimised.
Volkswagen claim a 7.3-litre per 100km (38mpg) combined cycle rating. The test car was a dealer demonstrator and it was in my care for only two days; that being the case, my average was based mostly on highway use and returned an 8l/100km (35mpg) which was quite spectacular, thanks to an instantaneous readout of 6.2l/100km (46mpg) at 100km/h (engine speed 1900rpm).
Even though I didn’t travel a huge distance in the car I can certainly see the Arteon’s appeal, and with the high quality build we have come to expect from Volkswagen, and all German car manufacturers, it is an eye-catching and desirable model which is just that little bit different to mainstream sedans and coupes.
Price – VW Arteon, $74,990
Dimensions – Length, 4862mm; width, 1871mm; height, 1450mm
Configuration – Four-cylinder, four-wheel-drive, 1984cc, 206kW, 350Nm, seven-speed automatic.
Fuel usage – 7.3l/100km