We Drive the New Volkswagen Arteon
Let’s face it, VW’s Passat was one of its least-loved vehicles. It reminds me of those movies which feature that one workmate which no one gets along with. However, when given the chance, you find out that Gwendoline has a wicked sense of humour and has stories from all her travels around the world. She is awesome and you wish that you had given her a chance all these years.Well, just like in Hollywood movie, Gwendoline has a life makeover, changes her appearance, loses a ton of weight and changes her name to “G Money” and the office is a buzz with the new staff member that they have. All the girls want to be her and the guys want to date her. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we give you the new Volkswagen Arteon.
Brand new from the ground up, the “Sport Coupe GTE” wowed the crowds at its premiere in 2015 but normally, when vehicle looks that good, you expect the manufacturer to tone it down with the final production model and give you something that was in-line with the design cues but not the car that caused you to have it as a screen saver on your laptop. No, not this time my fellow car people! If you pull up the pictures from 2015, the vehicle looks 99% identical to the vehicle that is now in front of me.
We got the grips with this brand-new vehicle at Volkswagen’s head office in Sandton and after the media briefing, which I missed as I was in awe as to how stunning this car is, we were thrown into peak hour Sandton traffic on route to our drive event, hosted at Swartkops raceway. Two engines are on offer from launch and my driving partner and I were in the 2.0 TDI DSG, with 350Nm of torque and 130kW. This ensured that we not only kept up with traffic, but also ushered people out of the fast lane as the diesel motor has a wide spread of torque in any gear, and was a peach to drive. I must say that I am one of the petrol heads that has seen the light, for a daily commuter I see the benefit of the diesel motor and with this current crop of diesels around, it’s amazing that people still have a petrol vehicle for the daily commute. But then again, I do understand why this specific petrol motor was included in the fold. With 206kW and with the same torque as the diesel, this is for the corporate racer that wants the Golf R feel in a premium skin.
As is my custom, the first drive was handled by my co-pilot and was thoroughly impressed by the infotainment system and layout of the whole cabin. Its beyond spacious and due to it being front wheel drive, it lacks the transmission tunnel which plagues most of the vehicle in this class-it was refreshing to find so much space in the rear. On arriving at Swartkops, we were given a breakdown of the design features of the Arteon and saw how the designers have stayed so close to the concept. Tip from VW, if your concept receives as much praise theirs did, don’t stray and then you keep your clients base happy. Speaking of clients…
The Arteon is aimed at the mid exec class so it comes into the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C Class and Cousin Audi A4 fold in terms of product placement. Now this is where we as South Africans need to strip our biases aside. Traditionally, in the buying cycle of a client, we go from the first car, into a mid-sized hatch or small sedan. VW has no problem with those clients as that’s where the first introduction happened and Polo Vivo and Golf sales speak for themselves. The issue happens when clients go from say a Golf GTI to something else as normally, circumstances necessitate a sedan and the “German Three” are the default. This is where the Arteon comes in. With the Arteon being such a formidable contender VW need to do all that they can to showcase that as they now have a vehicle that can stand toe to toe with the stalwarts of this segment, but its also up to the consumer to take off their blinkers and look at what other options that they have in this segment.
We have the pleasure of finding out the handling capabilities of the Arteon at the track and was pleasantly surprised as to how little body roll there was and yes, being front wheel drive for the diesel and 4Motion for the petrol, there was some understeer which that came to the fore when pushed hard, something that if you are doing on public roads, you deserve to have your tyres humbled by the pavement.
So, VW now have a serious contender for the premium segment and if marketed well and clients get to experience the vehicle, there will a lot more on the road and from the day and a half that we spent with the Arteon, you will be making the right choice. G Money will change your perspective for the good!