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First drive: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon in Germany

Volkswagen-Arteon-R-Line-Marouf-600x450 First drive: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon in Germany

When Volkswagen first debuted the Passat CC, it turned quite a few heads. Not only because it looked good, but also the question of “why?”, especially as the CC version was priced higher than an already-existing Passat. Lucky for us at that time, Volkswagen decided to help us understand the “why” question and offered us the VW Passat CC V6 for 5 months. If you had been following our reports back in 2011, you would probably know we bloody fell in love with that car. Power, handling, comfort and luxury in a more stylish package — it ticked all the right boxes and justified the price premium over the standard Passat.

Fast forward to this year, and without a doubt one of the highlights of 2017 Geneva Motor Show was the Volkswagen Arteon, the familiar silhouette making it obvious that it was replacing the CC. It had first made everyone gaga when it first came out as a concept back in 2015, and this final production model didn’t look much different.

The car is absolutely gorgeous from the front, with the front grille looking like it extends into the LED daytime running lamps and neatly-placed indicators. It now looks less 4-door coupe-ish, thanks to a new fastback design, which improves rear headroom. Then there is the big rear boot (now accessed via a hatchback tailgate), which is a massive 563 litres, which further extends to 1557 litres if the rear seats are folded down. Our tester happened to be the R-Line model, which gets further enhancements visually such as sportier bumpers, R-Line badging on the wings, wrap-around chrome trim strip on lower bodywork and chrome-plated tailpipes. Our test car at the international launch in Germany had the optional 20-inch ‘Rosario’ alloy wheels, finished in a dark graphite matte colour.

Volkswagen-Arteon-R-Line-Marouf-600x450 First drive: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon in Germany  Volkswagen-Arteon-R-Line-Marouf-3-600x450 First drive: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon in Germany

Sitting inside our car, we were greeted with VW’s new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display, which was first introduced in the Tiguan this year. The driver has a variety of options to choose what to display on the screen. The 9.2-inch display in the centre console was impressive as well, with an easy-to-use interface and a responsive capacitive touch screen. As cool as it looks, we still would have preferred some physical buttons to use, although most of the functions such as the radio can be controlled pretty much using steering-wheel buttons once you figure them out. The a/c controls had proper physical buttons which is the one that matters the most, especially in our region. Our car also had a head-up display which projected key information such as speed and navigation directions. The driver’s seat was equipped with a massage function, which was a welcome addition on our long drive.

Our test car was the top of the line Arteon, with the 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder TSI petrol engine, producing 280 hp and 350 Nm of torque, combined with a 7-speed DSG gearbox and an all-wheel-drive system. We can’t praise enough the engine and gearbox, getting better over the years to reach this level. Providing good response to throttle inputs, it doesn’t exactly have the linear power delivery of the V6 engine, which had 300 hp and the same amount of torque, but the new engine propels the Arteon to 100 kph in a claimed 5.6 seconds, which is just 0.1 second slower than the CC, and the 7-speed DSG is a much better performer than the 6-speed DSG we had in our long-termer. Putting the car in ‘Sport’ mode really brings the gearbox to life, with faster shifts during full acceleration and earlier downshifts during hard braking. In terms of fuel economy, the new Arteon improves as well, as VW claims around 7.3 litres/100 km.

Volkswagen-Arteon-R-Line-Marouf-600x450 First drive: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon in Germany  Volkswagen-Arteon-R-Line-Marouf-3-600x450 First drive: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon in Germany  Volkswagen-Arteon-R-Line-600x450 First drive: 2018 Volkswagen Arteon in Germany

Handling-wise, the car is extremely capable, just like the previous one. The steering has pretty much no feel, but is sharp. We drove on a few bends around Hanover and didn’t reach anywhere near its grip limits. The top-variant Arteon gets “DCC” chassis control, which adapts the shock absorbers according to the road conditions, so the ride was pretty comfortable throughout, and body-roll kept to a minimum in most corners.

The 2018 Volkswagen Arteon still has all the features that made the previous such a joy for us. While the smoothness of the V6 may not be there, it has improved further in terms of comfort and features. Plus, that front fascia just looks stunning! The price is not yet set but is said to go up slightly from the CC, but then again, the Arteon is better than the CC.

For UAE prices and GCC specs, stay tuned for updates in the VW buyer guide.

Photos by Marouf Hussain and Volkswagen.

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