VW Arteon Shooting Brake overview
In 2017, Volkswagen launched the Arteon, effectively superseding the Volkswagen CC, but moving obviously more upmarket from the Passat than before - even if the Arteon still shares a huge number of components with the big-selling family saloon.
Now, there's a revised Arteon for 2021 gone on sale in Ireland. The headline changes include more safety technology, a new interior in line with that of the updated VW Tiguan, hybrid and high-performance R variants for the first time and, last but by no means least, the introduction of a new body style, the Shooting Brake estate.
That's the car we have under test here, and isn't it handsome? The R-Line specification helps with that, adding 19-inch 'Montevideo' alloy wheels and modest exterior enhancements. Under the bonnet here is the latest evolution of Volkswagen's 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine. This one gets 'twin dosing' of Adblue in a bid to bring NOx emissions down to a more acceptable level. We're testing the 150hp version paired with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. This variant is priced at €54,060 on-the-road, which is only €1,545 more than the equivalent Arteon 'fastback'.
That seems like a no-brainer to us, but is it worth the much larger premium over a Passat Saloon or Estate with the same powertrain? Or does this car appeal more to the sort of buyer that might consider an Audi A5 Sportback or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, instead?
The VW Arteon model range
Whether you go for the Arteon fastback or Shooting Brake, there are plenty of interesting engine options to consider. Prices for the Arteon Shooting Brake start at €47,845 on-the-road for the sole version that has no trim line name. It's powered by a 150hp 2.0 TDI diesel engine and, like all Arteons, it uses a twin-clutch DSG automatic gearbox.
Standard equipment on that includes 'ArtVelours' microfleece and Vienna leather upholstery, part-electric seat adjustment, heated front and outer rear seats, eight-inch Discover Media touchscreen infotainment, digital instrumentation, auto lights, smartphone mirroring, three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, all-LED exterior lighting and more.
Next up is the Arteon Elegance, which can be had with the same 2.0 TDI 150hp engine or a 218hp plug-in hybrid powertrain, costing €50,360 and €50,425 (including SEAI grant of €5,000), respectively. The Elegance trim adds an upgraded steering wheel, 18-inch alloys, rear-view camera, driving modes, keyless operation and the Proactive Passenger Protection safety system. The hybrid additionally gets the 9.2-inch Discover Media Pro upgrade with navigation, wireless charging and head-up display.
Above that is the Arteon R-Line. This can be paired with one of the same two powertrains as the Elegance level (€54,060 for diesel, €52,410 for hybrid), or a 200hp variant of the 2.0-litre diesel engine for €60,125. R-Line adds a sportier steering wheel, upgraded seating, ambient lighting and 19-inch wheels.
At the very top of the Arteon Shooting Brake line-up is the new R model. This gets a 320hp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine, 4Motion four-wheel drive and a DSG automatic for a total of €85,095.
The 150hp diesels, with CO2 emissions between 127- and 135g/km, cost €200 a year to tax, while the 200hp model is an additional €70 as it emits 147g/km. The hybrids are in the lowest non-zero motor tax band, at just €140 per annum, while the Arteon R emits 211g/km for €1,250 a year tax.
Volkswagen Financial Services offers a 1.9 per cent PCP rate for the Arteon Shooting Brake, which means payments from €469 a month for the standard car, €489 for the Elegance or €519 for the R-Line. These finance figures are correct at the time of writing, but it's worth checking the official Volkswagen Ireland website for the latest numbers.
The VW Arteon Shooting Brake interior
Something I hope owners never tire of in the Arteon is opening the door and noticing the frameless glass. It's a classy touch that distances this car from the VW Passat. This R-Line car gets stainless steel R-Line inserts on the scuff plates, too, and there's sound-insulating laminated safety glass on all versions.
Nonetheless, the cabin of the Arteon doesn't noticeably stand apart from its more strait-laced sibling. Indeed, the round of updates launched this year echo those applied to the 2021 VW Tiguan, so the switchgear is remarkably familiar.
The updated Arteon and new Shooting Brake get Volkswagen's new leather-trimmed steering wheel with its touch-sensitive controls and haptic feedback, while the R-Line version is slightly sportier in its sculpting. Behind that is the 'Digital Cockpit' instrumentation, standard across the line-up with various selectable views. Once you get your head around the logic of how to interface with it through the steering wheel, it's a great system.
New for 2021 is a touch-sensitive climate control panel in the middle of the car. It looks slicker than the old design (which had three physical rotary dials), but it arguably takes more time to use, certainly when you're driving.
Thankfully, the opposite is true of the latest generation of touchscreens, which get two physical knobs and fixed shortcut buttons either side of the screen. Within is a far more sophisticated system than before, with more connectivity and technology, including wireless smartphone mirroring. The dashboard above this display has been restyled, and no longer has an analogue clock, but the centre console appears unchanged.
Ahead of the automatic gear lever (this generation of Arteon won't get the new Volkswagen Group shift-by-wire 'nub' seen on its newer cars) is a sliding cover for an area that could hold your phone, though there's no wireless charging.
Various buttons surround the lever, including the smooth metallic engine start button. Behind that, another sliding cover hides the two cupholders, which sit alongside the parking brake switches (one for Auto Hold) and a 12-volt power outlet. The leather-covered central armrest lifts to reveal a decent-sized storage bin, supplementing those in the doors, with two USB-C ports.
Electric backrest adjustment for the front seats is standard, which is great for little tweaks of the angle when on the move. The lumbar support adjustment is electrically operated, too. The seats themselves are 'ErgoComfort' and, while the R-Line model uses the same mix of upholstery as elsewhere in the range, it's subtly embossed and styled to look sportier. They're comfortable seats over a long journey.
Same story in the rear. Despite the sloping roofline, there's a lot of space back there. Well, there is in the outer two seats, anyway. They get a more defined shape, too, suggesting that the central seat isn't really to be used frequently. The chunky transmission tunnel hump in the middle of the floor confirms that. Nonetheless, there's a generous amount of legroom for the outer seat occupants.
A selection of charging ports is provided in the back, including one USB-C outlet, a 12-volt socket and even a two-pin 230-volt option. Air vents are also provided.
There are two pairs of ISOFIX mounting points in the back and, as the Arteon is quite a wide car, it might well fit in three child seats, depending on how bulky they are. As always, we recommend you try before you buy.
The rear seat backs split and fold down if you need to carry long loads, though even without doing so the Arteon Shooting Brake's boot is absolutely massive. It holds 590 litres under the extending luggage cover, and the tailgate is electrically opened.
The VW Arteon Shooting Brake driving experience
The Arteon chassis is a great all-rounder. It's quite comfortable, without feeling soft and wallowing in the bends, yet it has good body control, too. Indeed, it's more precise and agile feeling mid-corner than you'd expect given the size of it and the luxury car remit, even if the steering can be a tad slow.
It does everything well, basically, without truly engaging the driver or completely isolating them from what's happening underneath. Saying all that, we'd sacrifice some of the agility for a little more low-speed comfort over speedbumps and the like.
Thanks in part to the acoustic glass, the Arteon is really refined. There's precious little wind roar and well-contained road noise, even on relatively wide tyres. Admittedly, the diesel engine is audible all the time, but it's not massively intrusive.
The 2.0 TDI diesel option is Volkswagen's latest, developed to be cleaner than ever. It's certainly smooth, and happy to rev, but there's no need to extend it in day-to-day driving, as its low-down torque pushes the car along with plenty of gusto.
Volkswagen's venerable DSG transmission works well with the diesel engine, too, smoothly shifting gears. You can tug the lever back into Sport mode for quicker response and there are paddles behind the steering wheel if you feel the need to manually change gear. We didn't find cause to. It's just not that type of car.
Likewise, there are driving modes to select, altering things like the throttle response and steering. Adaptive damping is optional across the Arteon range (except for the high-performance R model) at just over €1,000. It could really help with the comfort/control balance of the suspension and might well be worth the additional outlay.
In our time with the Arteon, over a mix of urban roads and a few short motorway hops, the Arteon averaged 6.6 litres/100km. That's good going, and we'd expect it to do even better on a long cruise.
Alternatives to the VW Arteon Shooting Brake
Although the Arteon Shooting Brake has a massive boot, we don't think buyers will see it as an estate; we reckon it'll be bought for its appearance. Therefore, while the Passat Estate is, logically, to be considered alongside it, other cars such as the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe might also make a buyer's shortlist. And perhaps even the Jaguar XF.
Our verdict on the VW Arteon Shooting Brake
The updates to the Arteon line-up are modest enough. Indeed, the addition of new powertrain options is more significant, and we especially look forward to trying out the new eHybrid model. However, we reckon that the addition of the Shooting Brake body style might be the saving of the Arteon. It's far more stylish than anything referred to as an estate deserves to be, but it still manages to be highly practical. This car could well dissuade a few buyers that might have otherwise bought an SUV, and the unique image of the Shooting Brake model could also tempt buyers away from Audi, BMW and Mercedes showrooms.