14.10.2018VW Arteon 1.5 TSI Evo review
The Volkswagen Arteon is a new model for the manufacturer, taking the previous Passat CC and moving it a step further forward. Although sharing a number of components with the Passat range, VW is keen to highlight that this isn't just a Passat CC with a different name. NGC takes a look at the Arteon powered by a 1.5 TSI Evo engine to see what it's like.
Review by Chris Lilly
A good range of petrol and diesel engines is available for buyers, but as mentioned above, it is the 1.5 TSI Evo unit reviewed here. As diesel sales slump, the prospect of a flexible petrol engine becomes more appealing to drivers, and VW has responded accordingly. This version produces 150hp from the 1.5 litre four cylinder unit, which also provides 250 Nm of torque. It's the entry level petrol of the range, with two more powerful petrol options and three diesels available too. Added to the test car in place of the standard 6-speed manual gearbox is VW's 7-speed DSG automatic transmission, which is a very good set-up. The combination makes for a car that's relaxing and smooth to drive. The 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds highlights that the Arteon is not the quickest car around, though there are much quicker options available should pace be a priority, and it's no slouch. The Arteon suits more of a relaxed driving style than one where acceleration times are chased. The petrol engine doesn't have the low/mid-range grunt of a diesel to pick up the pace quickly in short sprints, but once up to speed, the unit is refined, and well suited to a motorway cruise or cross-country drive. It works pretty well around town too, and only gets raucous high up the rev range, which the DSG system will prevent unless manually overridden. As such, for this entry level model at least, the Arteon provides refined performance rather than sporty pace.
The handling on offer matches the above performance characteristics. The Arteon is set up for a smooth ride, well-damped against all but the worst of the UK's rough road surfaces. When cornering, the VW manages to control body roll well, but you can still feel the car's reasonable bulk shift in the bends. Sportier R-Design models with stiffer suspension may lessen this effect, but the Arteon in Elegance trim is more at home being driven sensibly. The steering is accurate and sharp enough, but light and without much feedback through the wheel. If the over all impression being built up from these first two sections is that the Arteon isn't a 'driver's car', you would be right - in this guise anyway - though there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, the VW makes a case for being a capable long-distance machine, with trips either on the motorway or A/B-roads completed easily and keeping everything comfortable.
Here the VW scores strongly, as the difference between the 'fastback' styling of the Arteon and the more conventional (though still handsome) Passat is noticeable. The Arteon looks a premium product, and succeeds in catching the eye in a way the Passat simply doesn't. The coupe-like profile has seen the Arteon's engineers create a long-wheelbase, and as such, there is lots of space available in the cabin. Leg and shoulder room for four adults is very good, and all but the tallest passengers will be fine in the rear, since the sloping roof-line doesn't cut into the head space too much. The boot is enormous too, with a large hatch allowing easy access. Although the Arteon might be pitched as a sleek, stylish machine, it's a surprisingly practical one too.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Inside, the Arteon looks remarkably like the Passat - which isn't a surprise really. While this removes a little of the premium element from the cabin, there are far worse cars from which to pinch parts. The materials used are all of a high quality, and feel very sturdily put together. Fitted as standard is VW's high-res 8-inch touchscreen system, which lacks a rotary controller as found on rival offerings from the likes of BMW and Audi, but it's still a good system to use. The buttons throughout the cabin - both digital and physical - are well placed, and responsive to a good prod of a finger. The driver gets a fairly standard spec VW steering wheel, though again this isn't a bad thing. It's a nice size, and not overly crowded with buttons. The instruments use VW's Active Info Display, which is a configurable 12.3-inch digital system, and a good one. The dash is pretty clean and tidy, with most of the driver's buttons surrounding the DSG gear selector, all of which makes for a classy cabin in which to sit. Add in the comfortable seats, and you would happily cover a large number of miles in the Arteon.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The official fuel economy figures from VW for the Arteon are quoted at 48.7 MPG, which doesn't seem to bad for a petrol model. In fact, it proved easy to top those when covering miles in the Arteon's natural driving style - when settled down to a cruise on the motorway and flowing A-roads. By the end of my near 500 miles with the VW, the trip computer displayed an average of 44.7 MPG, which is very close to those official figures, and extremely reasonable to live with. In fact though, there were a number of trips where the average was more than 50 MPG, and the best I got after a reasonable run - and without trying to drive frugally - was 57.8 MPG. Yes a diesel would probably add 10 MPG to that figure, but the petrol is extremely efficient. To tax, the Arteon will cost £205 for the first year - included in the car's OTR - and then the standard rate of £140 a year.
There are a few systems available to the Arteon driver to improve fuel efficiency, which helped with the above impressive scores. VW's 1.5 TSI Evo engine features cylinder deactivation technology, shutting down two of the four cylinders when cruising and the engine's full power isn't needed. The DSG transmission also allows the Arteon to coast at higher speeds when off the throttle, and there is a drive mode select system with Eco mode available. This lessens throttle response and alters the gear changes for greater efficiency. VW's Think Blue trainer offers eco driving tips and scores, while the Arteon also recuperates energy when braking to charge the battery. Adaptive cruise control with predictive function uses the car's navigation system to alter the car's speed when active, slowing down or accelerating to match the road conditions. It can 'see' speed limits, and also decelerates if the car's coming up to a junction or sharp bend. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 47.
Offered in two trim levels, the Arteon line-up isn't a complicated one, and it's well equipped. Effectively Elegance is a more luxurious set-up, with R-Design a sportier one. Fitted as standard to the Elegance model tested were 18-inch alloys, LED self-levelling headlights, leather trim, electric and heated front seats, keyless entry and start, an 8-inch touchscreen sat-nav system with Bluetooth, DAB, and USB connectivity, plus smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. Also included are climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, a suite of driver safety systems, the 12.3-inch digital instrument display, remote tailgate, parking sensors front and rear, and drive mode select.
Up against some very tough competition, the VW Arteon holds its own. It's not the most dynamic car to drive, but it's a good mile-muncher, particularly considering it's a petrol. Although not the obvious choice for potential buyers, the lower list price, plus significantly lower company car tax costs for those, could mean the 1.5 TSI Evo makes better financial sense than a diesel. It's a good car to pick overall too, providing comfort and style; not perfect then, but a fine choice.
Model tested: Volkswagen Arteon 1.5 TSI Evo Elegance DSG
Body-style: Premium four-door coupe
Engine / CO2: 1.5 litre petrol / 131 g/km
Trim grades: Elegance and R-Design
On-road price: from £32,745. Price as tested £34,240
Warranty: Three year / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars