VW takes a slice of the luxury vehicle market

VW Arteon

Grace – (noun) smoothness and elegance of movement.

The above sentence would have been my complete review. I would simply add pictures and the VW Arteon review would be completely done.  No jokes.

Perhaps you’re wondering why? The answer is quite simple: Art is meant to be viewed and interpreted by each person in accordance to the emotions it evokes from them.

So we can already tell from the name that VW was hinting at the fact that this is art. Did they manage to pull that off? Yes. The VW Arteon is as beautiful as fine art.

I think one of its strongest attributes has to be its styling. The design just screams concept car. Now to have your production car compared favourably to a concept car is the ultimate compliment.

It is pleasing to the eye from every angle. I like how VW put an effort to distinguish it from the A5 which it shares a platform with. It’s a completely different car. The only place where you get a hint of Audi would be the back with those A8 inspired lights.

The car looks low and wide, a winning combination. The long doors hint at the fact that this is a luxury car which can quite easily be used to chauffeur around the rich and famous.

I have no questions about the Arteon’s ability to do tasks such as these. The question really boils down to the badge on the nose of this car. The VW group already has Audi and a line-up of Audis that do what the Arteon is intending to do. And, they do it well too.

So the next question would be why would VW then create the Arteon, which would have its main competition within the VW family. From an aesthetic point of view this question is easily answered. There is no Audi that quite looks like the Arteon, so there is more on offer in terms of styling.

The Arteon could also be VW’s response to the luxury brands after they have been eating into VWs market.

Allow me to explain.

For decades VW has been the hot hatch king. GTI enjoyed an almost absolute monopoly in this market. However in recent times the German luxury car makers decided that they also want a piece of this pie. Mercedes-Benz gave us the A45; BMW went at it with the 130i, then the M135i and now the M140i and within the VW group Audi gave us the S3 and RS3.

If you look a few decades ago none of these manufacturers even made hatches. This is now VW also gunning for them. The best form of defence is attack. This is fantastic for the consumer as well. More competition means better cars.

The Arteon replaces the CC which was really a rather bland car. So with regards to its predecessor the Arteon is already a step in the right direction.

The last VW I had a drive in before the Arteon was the Amarok and the interior failed to impress me. It was dated and felt old I was left thinking VW could do better. The Arteon by contrast has a high end luxurious and modern interior. Ironically a lot of the parts and pieces come directly off a Golf. If you own the new VW Golf GTI or Golf R this car will feel very familiar.

This is not necessarily a bad thing because the interior on these cars ooze luxury and tech but I really would have appreciated a completely new interior. The beautiful but sporty Golf GTI steering wheel finds application in the Arteon. While I love this steering wheel and it is one of my favourites, I would have appreciated something less sporty and more elegant to compliment what the car really is – pure elegance.

Our test car was the R649 900 2.0TDI R-Line which came in a dark purple colour. This was an absolute perfect combination for us. The Curcuma Yellow is the colour that is most seen on these cars. But this, for us is not the colour we would go for. A luxury sedan/sportback should be calm and elegant the yellow is very shouty and makes more sense in a hatchback not a luxury car.

We also prefer the diesel motor because “siyahlupeka” and this meant that we could get more kilometres per  litre of fuel. We managed 6.8l per 100km from the 2l turbocharged diesel engine which has 130kw of power and 350nm of torque. The car is definitely not a sprinter but neither is it a slouch fortunately for those that want a bit more power you can get the 2.0 TSI with the exact engine as the Golf R with 206kw of power and the same amount of torque as the diesel. This petrol unit will set you back R699 900.

A BMW 4 series or Audi A5 that is similarly specced as the Arteon will actually take a lot more of your Rands. So it ticks the value for money box.

So how does the VW hold up against the luxury German car makers it wants to dethrone? There was only one way to find out! We drove the car to Zimbali in KwaZulu-Natal where we met up with friends that drive high end luxury cars from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

To our surprise the car actually held its own against cars priced at three times more than it! In fact it grabbed a lot of the attention of the crowds than most of these other brands’ products. Put side by side it actually looks a lot better than most too.

Arteon looking the part in the midst of German luxury vehicles

And the best part about buying the Arteon is that you get those little touches that make VWs “the people’s car”. In the boot of this car we found a full sized spare wheel! If we had a flat tire on our journey to KZN we could have stopped and swapped it for another full size wheel and our Arteon wouldn’t have looked like it skipped leg day like it would have with those skinny space saver wheels. Nice touch VW.

The Arteon is a car you can take to a business meeting and then go hang out with your boys without feeling out of place. I do wish that more emphasis was put in marketing this car as a luxury vehicle than a sporty one. It does luxury better and is going after the luxury big boys’ piece of the pie and in this light we should have seen as little of the yellow Arteons (in VW ads) as possible because the Arteon fights in a more grown up market.

Overall, the VW Arteon is a very well put together vehicle and an overall fantastic package. Not only will you (the driver) enjoy its tech-filled interior but the people on the streets will also enjoy its beautiful styling from the outside. And in this colour it looks the part of the graceful luxury vehicle it is. Art in Motion indeed.


Marcus Phathwa


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